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(SPOT.ph) Filipinas are only recently being introduced to the world of alternative menstrual products. Instead of sticking it out with sanitary pads, we have the option of tampons, menstrual cups, period panties, cloth pads, and menstrual discs now.
Of all these options, few are willing to try, let alone know the existence of, menstrual discs. This is why I decided to take the menstrual disc to the test—take it from someone who’s tried pads, tampons, and cups in the past.
Also read: SPOT.ph Roundup: 5 Menstrual Products to Try That Aren't Sanitary Pads
What are menstrual discs?
I’ve been a menstrual cup loyalist for the past two years. I live and breathe by the cup, but I will be honest and say that it doesn’t exactly work for me. Leakages are a common occurrence, which is why I still had to place sanitary pads on heavier days. It was a setup I had accepted, simply because I didn’t think there was a better option out there.
I was surprised to find out that menstrual discs have made it into the Philippine market, with several product listings under Shopee and Lazada. It comes in two kinds: disposable and reusable ones. The disposable ones are priced at P60 more or less, with many online shops selling them by piece.
Reusable ones are more common, with the most popular brands being Serene, HER Period Co., Bessy, Higala, and Ziggy. I decided to go for a generic menstrual disc to test if it would work well enough for me to invest in a better and safer version that would cost P2,000 and above, one that can last me up to five years of use.
Many have called menstrual discs the most comfortable period product on the market—and this held true for me to some extent. Menstrual discs are placed at the base of the cervix, which means it’s inserted much higher up than where tampons and cups are situated. You’ll only have to get past the initial fear of inserting such a large disc, but once that’s over, the rest comes easy.
I was surprised to see how small the menstrual disc is upon opening the package (this is something many will not agree on). I was really anxious with the switch to menstrual disc to begin with, so I guess I ended up inflating the product’s size in my head a bit too much.
This helped me in the end, because like menstrual cups, inserting this is best done when you’re at ease.
The menstrual disc comes in a double rim that helps in leak-proofing, as well as a matching pink silicone case for safekeeping. It’s made of non-toxic silicone, which means there are no harmful chemicals or bleaches involved in the production of it. The petal-thin base is very soft to the touch. I can’t stress how flexible it is, too, surprisingly more than a menstrual cup. This makes the thought of insertion a lot less intimidating.
Also read: SPOT.ph Roadtest: How Do Reusable Menstrual Pads Compare to the Disposable Kind?
How to insert
Inserting the disc is actually easier than a cup. Don’t be fooled with how big the opening is, because folding the middle part of the disc will shrink the width to the same size of a small tampon.
At the same time, easier insertion doesn’t always mean the right insertion. The Internet instructed me to point it towards the direction of my tailbone and push it past the public bone as far as it can go so the rim tucks in. One problem: I had no idea where my tailbone bone is, so I was going in blind and hoping for the best.
I tried to get a feel of the disc inside, but came to realize that it wasn’t tucked behind my cervix. I would find out that it’s a rookie mistake to insert the disc almost haphazardly, in a way that it sits smashed against the front of your cervix, not behind it!
So the challenge is still clearly there for first-time users. It took me 20 minutes of trying to lodge the disc behind the cervix before I gave up and decided to come back to it tomorrow instead. It cannot be overstated: whatever position you’re in, try to be as comfortable as you can. The more panicked you are, the more difficult it will be to push it inside.
I was successful the next day, the moment I was more open to trying it again. What worked best for me was to sit on the toilet and push the folded disc downwards. The process of inserting it was completely the opposite of what I had grown used to with tampons and cups, which is going upwards. Ever since I made the very conscious decision of pointing the disc downwards upon insertion, I had no problems with the product.
To lock it in place, I pushed the disc up as high as I could. Discs can come untucked during exercise or other bodily movement, which is why it’s so important to really keep it in there. The key is to be confident—don’t be afraid of pushing it up as long as it can still go up! It’s not like discs can get lost inside there, anyway.
Wear time and experience
I wore the disc on my third day of menstruation, so my flow wasn’t too heavy or too light.
I was confident in my disc placement, and it reflected in how I didn’t leak at all that whole day. I was impressed—this is something that even my cups couldn’t do. However, I was feeling a little bit of pain in my lower stomach area, so I’m not entirely sure if it was my usual period cramps or if my body was still adjusting to having a foreign object inside it. The pain was nothing I couldn’t handle, though. Being leak-free outweighed every other con at this point.
As advertised, discs can definitely stay in there for 12 hours or so without feeling it full. There’s honestly not much to say about my wear experience, because for the most part, I had even forgotten I was on my period!
How to remove
Here’s where the menstrual disc loses.
With a cup, you can remove the suction by pinching on the base of the cup then pull it outside in an upright position without hassle. It’s mess-free once you’re used to the motions. The same can’t be said of a disc.
Discs are positioned at a naturally tilted angle, which means blood will spill no matter how careful you try to be. Granted, there are new versions of discs with a silicone string or looped handle to provide a better grip for removal, but keeping it upright will still be a challenging task, if not altogether impossible. Fortunately for me, I just had to remove the disc in my own bathroom once I got home since discs can be used for up to 12 hours anyway.
Many have also found it difficult to pull a regular disc out (as in the ones without the string or grip). To remove, I had to hook my finger at the bottom of the rim to pull it out, which was…easier than I expected. It’s also worth noting that the cervix typically drops lower during menstruation, so I didn’t have to struggle reaching for it up there.
Also read: SPOT.ph Roadtest: Do Uniqlo's Period-Proof Undies Actually Work? We Gave Them a Shot
Menstrual discs are best for women who are familiar with their own bodies—or at least not afraid to experiment with it! The experience (or non-experience) of a good period is even making me look forward to my next time of the month. There’s just something about period products catching the spill from inside that make it so much more bearable compared to feeling yourself sitting in your own moisture.
However, discs aren’t meant for every body—literally. Women who have a tilted cervix won’t benefit from this because the irregular positioning of the disc will cause blood to leak even if you’re doing everything right. This is more of an exception than a norm, of course.
In this case, the road less taken is worth taking, especially since the journey can be different for everyone. Try menstrual discs out and see for yourself.
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