sustainable period care

Okay, just don’t read this if you’re going to be grossed out by explicit mention of female anatomy and menstrual cycles. Uterus-bearing humans have a period every 28 days (usually), so it shouldn’t be the end of the world for me to write about how I’ve learned to tackle that time of the month. Again, if this topic grosses you out, please click the big red X in the corner. If you would like to learn how not to add to landfill waste with every cycle and how to do so comfortably and freshly, keep on reading. This may even help you if you are without a uterus; you never know if you’ll have a daughter or wife or sister who may benefit from your knowledge one day. Thanks!

If you know me well, you know that for the past few years I’ve used Flex disposable discs as my period product of choice. If you’re unfamiliar with menstrual discs, let me give you the skinny — they’re the BOMB. Here’s a much better informative video than I could ever make on the subject. They are basically round or oblong silicone or plastic polymer discs that you squeeze in half to insert, push back toward your tailbone, then tuck up behind your pubic bone to fit into your fornix. The fornix is, for the most part, a one-size-fits-all area, so that’s why most regular sized discs work for most people (though they do make other sized options in different brands like Saalt and Ziggy). While insertion and removal may seem scary if you’re used to avoiding getting that familiar with your own body, I promise you that it’s much more intuitive and much easier than you may at first think. I did it successfully the first time. Other pros of menstrual discs are their carrying capacity (they can hold up to six tampons’ worth of blood), the fact that you can leave them in for up to twelve hours at a time with no risk of Toxic Shock Syndrome, and the absence of any structure in your vaginal canal means that you can…well…enjoy all sorts of activities!

Let me be clear — I am not talking about menstrual cups like the Diva Cup. Those bad boys sit in your vaginal canal and suction in there, and they’re not advised for people with IUDs because in rare cases they can PULL THEM OUT. I’m not kidding. It’s like the plot of a horror movie. I’m not about the idea of something suctioning into my vagina, so I use discs, which are suction free, instead.

While using and loving the Flex disposable discs, I had a nagging worry in the back of my head that I was still contributing to landfill waste with each passing month. I desperately wanted a reusable option, but I didn’t want to use a cup. At this point in about 2019, there were about two reusable discs on the market, and I had no idea where or how to find them. That’s why, when I went to re-up my order of Flex discs and discovered their new reusable silicone disc, I was floored. I was ecstatic, elated, gobsmacked by pure excitement. Modeled after their disposable version, the Flex reusable disc promised to be just as effective and easy to insert as the product I’d come to know and love, and that was exactly what I was looking for. You can also Amazon Prime one right to your doorstep in just two days if your cycle is knocking at the door!

Long story short, I was so pleased with the performance of the Flex reusable that I decided I might as well try another brand in another size just to make sure I wasn’t holding myself back by sticking with so much devotion to one product. That’s when I ordered the small Saalt menstrual disc with an easy-to-remove finger notch, and that one blew me away too! It’s definitely better for lighter-moderate days and for people with a lower cervix, but it gets the job done and is similarly comfortable to the Flex reusable.

As you can probably tell, I should be sponsored by these brands. I am obsessed with menstrual discs; they just work for my body! I literally cannot feel them, and they’re super easy for me to work with. There are some points that still need to be addressed, however. When I first heard about reusable period products, I was, frankly, disgusted. I didn’t understand at the time what made them so necessary in the age of global climate crisis, and I didn’t see how they could possibly ever get sufficiently clean. How do you sterilize something in your home without boiling it in a pot you cook with?? Ew!

All of my concerns seem silly now in 2022. First off, every brand that makes menstrual cups or discs now makes a corresponding cleanser and usually wipes for on-the-go, too. Make sure you’re thoroughly cleaning your disc with each removal and allowing it to dry before reinsertion, and you’re good to go. For sanitization purposes, you can either boil your disc in a pot used for cooking (yuck, in my opinion), put it in the dishwasher (YUCK, in everybody’s opinion), or grab a steaming sterilizer from Amazon. This is the one I chose, and it happens to be on sale for 52% off at the moment. By simply filling the inner circle with a little bit of water, putting the top securely on, and pressing the power button, you are well on your way to having a sterilized menstrual cup or disc! If you use a clear silicone disc like the Flex reusable, staining is all but inevitable. However, there are even ways to tackle staining! The most cost effective option is to grab some hydrogen peroxide and soak it in that for about 10 minutes to get it as good as new! There are also soap products like this one by Pixie Cup that will take care of the sterilization and stain removal for you. As you can see, there are no shortage of options for keeping your reusables as fresh and clean as if they were coming straight from the box. Do not fear!

I know this post may seem random, but I’m in the midst of studying for my contracts midterm and simply cannot be bothered to write anything of real substance. Plus, I thought this would be very helpful for me if I’d read it when I was just wee bairn starting my menstrual journey. I certainly wish I had known about menstrual discs sooner so that I could have adopted them into my routine as early in my life as possible. The thought of using tampons or pads makes me feel so icky after converting/ASCENDING to the disc.

Besides discs, there are other reusable period products that I find to be wonderful inventions. I know these aren’t for everybody, but I’m a major fan of leakproof underwear. My personal favorite brand is Knix, even though there are several on the market now. Knix just makes super absorbent thongs which are unreal (in a good way) and provide the most reliable backup ever. Their panties are also seamless and so high quality. I wear them when I’m not even bleeding because they’re just so comfortable. I love them particularly for formal events when I’m wearing a light color and am just not willing to risk bleeding on my beautiful outfit. You just never know, and period panties are perfect for warding off unwanted and unforeseen leakage.

Okay! I think I’ve said a sufficient amount about my anatomy and have used words like “leakage” and “vaginal fornix” enough. I hope this helps some of you! Please consider utilizing a reusable period product, whether it be a cup or disc, because the environment will thank you. Let’s all do our part and have a better, more comfortable experience doing it! Good luck friends!

P.S. Since initially composing this post, I’ve found a disc that just might beat all the other ones out. It’s a bit smaller in diameter, and they seem to have thought of everything in terms of comfort and leakage. They also have an easy-to-remove notch like the small Saalt disc I talked about earlier. Check out the Cora Perfect Fit Disc or, if you’re looking for something even gentler and less firm, try their Cora Soft Fit Disc. These are a lot of people’s “Goldilocks” discs. If I could do it over again, I might just get both of these!

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