Periods always come at the worst times—like, for example, the one week I finally got to visit my long-distance boyfriend. We had been planning the trip for months, deciding what meals we wanted to cook together, taking coronavirus (COVID-19) precautions to quarantine and getting tested before seeing each other, and, naturally, dreaming about all the time we'd be spending in bed together. Then, the one thing I hadn't planned for: my period came the day before I hit the road. I was moderately pissed at Mother Nature for a moment, but instead of dwelling on the unfortunate timing, I decided to take the opportunity to finally try out a period product that can be used during sex: the Flex Disc.
To be clear, I have nothing against period sex. In fact, having sex during your period can come with a number of benefits, like the potential to ease cramps, shorten the duration of menstruation, and intensify orgasms—so it can actually be kind of great. However, when I dreamed about my romantic long weekend with my boyfriend, the vision didn't include laying down towels every time we wanted to have sex or waddling to the bathroom afterward to clean off the blood. Fortunately, the Flex Disc allowed me to still get the benefits of period sex without the messy, awkward parts.
Here's how it works: The Flex Disc is made of a flexible, BPA-free plastic ring with a thin, stretchy film in the center to catch menstrual blood. Like a menstrual cup, the disc can be squeezed smaller for insertion and then expands when inside the vagina. Unlike a menstrual cup, the disc sits above, not inside, the vaginal canal (which is why it can be worn during sex), covering the cervix and preventing menstrual fluid from entering the vagina. The one-time-use product claims to hold up to three super tampons-worth of menstrual blood and can be worn for up to 12 hours.
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When I first tried the menstrual disc, I'll admit that the idea of putting something that looks like a miniature frisbee inside my body was a bit intimidating—but I actually found it surprisingly user-friendly. The disc slid in easily and popped into place mostly on its own. I followed the package instructions to use my finger to tuck the disc upward so it would rest behind my pubic bone. (It was in this instance that I also learned where my pubic bone is.) When it came time to take the disc back out, I found it easy to get a grip on the plastic ring and the disc slid out just as easily as it went in. I use a menstrual cup regularly, so, for me, the insertion and removal process felt comparatively simple. If you've only ever used a tampon or pads, however, it might take a little time to get used to it—but I promise it's worth getting over the learning curve.
Now, for the sex part. Since I wasn't quite sure how the product would work, my boyfriend and I decided to be safe and throw some towels down, but I'm happy to report that no bloodstains were left behind. The first time, I don't think I had the disc perfectly in place because I could feel it moving around slightly, but after I made sure it was snugly tucked behind my pubic bone, I couldn't feel it at all (and neither could my boyfriend).
Since we didn't have to worry about preparing for a mess every time we had sex, I loved how much easier it felt to be spontaneous. Plus, because the disc can be worn overnight, it's much easier to have morning sex—which, in my opinion, is much more romantic when you don't have to run to the bathroom to remove your tampon first.
The menstrual disc isn't just good for using during sex, though—it's also great for swimming, exercising, and doing anything you want to do without having to worry about your flow getting in the way. Though I typically opt for reusable period products, I thought the Flex Discs, which are disposable and come in a 12-pack for $15, were a great option for trying out menstrual discs for the first time. (Not to mention, compared to tampons and pads, the discs are still a more sustainable option, producing 60% less waste.) However, if you're a fan of menstrual discs, like I now am, and want to have more mess-free period sex in the future, you can invest in a reusable option, like the Ziggy Cup from Intimina for about $40.
Just to reiterate, period sex is nothing to shy away from and there's nothing wrong with a little menstrual blood. But, if you can get all the good stuff without making a mess, honestly, why wouldn't you?