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How To Insert A Menstrual Disc

A menstrual disc is a flexible, circular device designed to collect menstrual fluid internally, offering an alternative to traditional sanitary pads and tampons. It is inserted into the vaginal canal, where it sits beneath the cervix to collect menstrual blood. The disc’s larger capacity compared to tampons and pads makes it suitable for individuals with heavier flows, and it can be worn for up to 12 hours before needing to be emptied and cleaned. This innovation has gained popularity due to its convenience, reduced environmental impact, and potential for reduced discomfort during menstruation.

The history of menstrual discs can be traced back to the late 1960s and early 1970s. The first version, known as the “Instead Softcup,” was patented in the United States in 1970 by Leona Chalmers. Chalmers’ invention was intended to provide a more discreet and comfortable option for menstruating individuals, as well as to address environmental concerns arising from disposable products. The original Softcup was designed as a one-size-fits-all option, but subsequent iterations have aimed to improve fit and comfort.

In recent years, menstrual disc designs have evolved further to include various brands and sizes, offering a wider range of options to cater to different anatomies and preferences. These discs are typically made from medical-grade silicone or similar materials, ensuring safety and biocompatibility. Their design and materials have been refined to enhance user comfort, ease of insertion, and leak prevention.

The introduction of menstrual discs has contributed to conversations about menstrual hygiene, environmental sustainability, and product innovation. The broader discourse around menstrual health and the desire for more convenient and eco-friendly alternatives has driven continued development and improvement in menstrual disc technology. As awareness of these options grows, more individuals are exploring and adopting menstrual discs as a viable and progressive alternative to traditional menstrual products.

Types Of Menstrual Disc

There are several types of menstrual discs available on the market, each with its own design, features, and variations. Here are some of the common types:

1.        Disposable Menstrual Discs: These are designed for one-time use and are typically made from soft, flexible materials like medical-grade plastic or silicone. They are inserted into the vaginal canal to collect menstrual fluid and are discarded after use.

2.        Reusable Menstrual Discs: These discs are made from high-quality medical-grade silicone, elastomer, or similar materials, making them durable and suitable for multiple uses. They need to be cleaned and sanitized between uses.

3.        Flat-Fitting Menstrual Discs: These discs are relatively flat and are placed horizontally in the vaginal canal beneath the cervix. They are known for their low profile, which can make them comfortable and discreet.

4.        Bell-Shaped Menstrual Discs: These discs have a bell-like shape with a wider rim that sits around the cervix. This design aims to prevent leaks by creating a better seal. They are usually inserted diagonally into the vaginal canal.

5.        One-Size-Fits-All Discs: Some brands offer a single size of menstrual disc that is designed to fit most anatomies comfortably. These discs often come with instructions on insertion and proper placement.

6.        Sized Menstrual Discs: Other brands offer different sizes to cater to a range of anatomical variations, including those with a higher or lower cervix. This approach aims to provide a more customized fit for users.

7.        Menstrual Discs with Removal Strings: Some discs come with built-in or attachable removal strings, similar to tampons. These strings can assist with removing the disc after use, especially for those who are new to using this type of product.

8.        Menstrual Discs with Reservoirs: Certain menstrual discs have a reservoir design that allows them to hold a larger volume of menstrual fluid. This can be particularly beneficial for individuals with heavy flows.

9.        Menstrual Discs with Ventilation Holes: To aid in proper positioning and comfort, some discs have small ventilation holes to release air pressure and prevent suction during insertion.

It’s important to note that the specific features and options available may vary by brand. When choosing a menstrual disc, consider factors such as your anatomy, flow level, comfort preferences, and any potential allergies or sensitivities to materials. Reading user reviews and following the manufacturer’s instructions for insertion, usage, and cleaning is essential for a positive experience with menstrual discs.

How To Insert A Menstrual Disc

Inserting a menstrual disc might take a little practice, especially if you’re new to using this type of product. Here’s a general guide on how to insert a menstrual disc:


1.        Wash your hands: Start by thoroughly washing your hands with soap and water to ensure cleanliness.

2.        Choose a comfortable position: You can insert the disc while standing, squatting, sitting on the toilet, or even with one leg lifted on the bathtub edge. Find a position that’s comfortable for you.


1.        Fold the disc: Depending on the disc’s design, you might need to fold it before insertion. There are different folding techniques, but a common one involves pressing the sides of the disc together to form a “C” or “U” shape.

2.        Insert the folded disc: Gently guide the folded disc into your vaginal canal, angling it toward your tailbone. You might find it helpful to use your index finger to push it in or to guide it past the pubic bone.

3.        Push the disc past the pelvic bone: Once the disc is partially inserted, use your finger to push it upwards and towards the back of your vagina, aiming to get it past the pelvic bone. It should sit beneath your cervix.

4.        Check the placement: Run your finger around the rim of the disc to ensure it’s positioned correctly and isn’t folded or twisted.


1.        Allow the disc to pop open: Some discs are designed to open up and create a seal once they’re positioned correctly. You might feel a slight “pop” or suction sensation when this happens.

2.        Tuck the rim behind the pubic bone: To prevent leaks, you can try gently tucking the rim of the disc behind your pubic bone. This can help create a better seal and reduce the chance of leaks.


1.        Wash your hands: Just like during insertion, start by washing your hands.

2.        Locate the rim: Insert your finger into your vagina and locate the rim of the disc. Gently pinch the rim to break the seal and release the suction.

3.        Slide it out: While pinching the rim, slowly and gently slide the disc out of your vagina. Be careful not to spill the contents.

Cleaning and Storage

1.        Empty the contents: Once you’ve removed the disc, empty the menstrual fluid into the toilet or sink.

2.        Rinse the disc: Rinse the disc with warm water to remove any residual blood.

3.        Sanitize if needed: Depending on the disc’s material and the manufacturer’s recommendations, you might need to sanitize it by boiling it in water or using a special cleaning solution.

4.        Store it safely: Store the clean and dry disc in its provided case or another clean container until your next use.

Remember that it might take a few cycles to get the hang of inserting and removing the menstrual disc comfortably. If you experience discomfort, leaks, or trouble with insertion, don’t hesitate to reach out to the manufacturer’s customer support or consult a healthcare professional for guidance.

Can you have sex with a menstrual disc?

No, menstrual discs are not intended for sexual activity. They are designed to collect menstrual fluid and are meant for comfortable wear during regular activities. Engaging in sexual activity with a menstrual disc in place could lead to discomfort, potential displacement, and safety concerns due to movement, friction, and the risk of infection or injury. If considering sexual activity while menstruating, it’s advisable to remove the menstrual disc before proceeding and consult a healthcare professional for any concerns regarding sexual health or menstrual product use.

Menstrual Disc Benefits

Menstrual discs offer several benefits that make them a popular and appealing choice for managing menstruation. Here are some of the key advantages:

1.        Extended Wear Time: Menstrual discs can typically be worn for up to 12 hours before needing to be emptied and cleaned. This longer wear time means fewer changes throughout the day compared to tampons and pads, providing greater convenience, especially during busy schedules.

2.        Higher Capacity: Menstrual discs often have a higher fluid capacity than tampons and pads. This makes them suitable for individuals with heavier menstrual flows, reducing the need for frequent changes. According to a study published in the journal BMJ Sexual & Reproductive Health, products like menstrual discs may offer more security than old-fashioned pads and tampons for women with heavy periods,

3.        Reduced Environmental Impact: Many menstrual discs are reusable, which helps reduce the environmental impact associated with disposable menstrual products. By opting for a reusable option, you can contribute to reducing waste from single-use tampons and pads.

4.        Comfort and Discreetness: Once properly inserted and positioned, many users find menstrual discs comfortable to wear. They’re usually worn internally, which means they are not visible when properly inserted, offering a discreet option.

5.        Less Odor: Because the menstrual fluid is stored in a sealed environment within the vaginal canal, there is often less odor compared to external products like pads.

6.        Movement and Activities: Menstrual discs can be worn during various physical activities, including swimming, yoga, sports, and other exercises. They are less likely to shift or become uncomfortable during movement compared to tampons.

7.        Potential for Reduced Cramps: Some users report experiencing fewer menstrual cramps when using menstrual discs, possibly due to their collection mechanism that doesn’t disrupt the vaginal environment as tampons might.

8.        No Risk of Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS): Unlike tampons, menstrual discs are not associated with the risk of toxic shock syndrome (TSS), a rare but serious condition caused by certain types of bacterial infections.

9.        Versatility in Anatomy: Some brands offer different sizes and shapes of menstrual discs to accommodate a range of anatomical variations, including those with high or low cervix positions.

10.      Learning Curve: While there might be a learning curve when first using menstrual discs, many individuals find that once they get the hang of insertion and removal, the process becomes intuitive and comfortable.

11.      Cost Savings: Although the upfront cost of a reusable menstrual disc might be higher than disposable products, the long-term cost is generally lower since they can be used for multiple cycles with proper care.

It’s important to note that individual experiences can vary, and what works well for one person might not be the same for another. It’s recommended to explore different menstrual product options to find what suits your body and lifestyle best. If you have any concerns or questions, consulting a healthcare professional or seeking advice from experienced users can provide valuable insights.


Dr. Oche Otorkpa PG Cert, MPH, PhD

Dr. Oche is a seasoned Public Health specialist who holds a post graduate certificate in Pharmacology and Therapeutics, an MPH, and a PhD both from Texila American University. He is a member of the International Society of Substance Use Professionals and a Fellow of the Royal Society for Public Health in the UK. He authored two books: "The Unseen Terrorist," published by AuthorHouse UK, and "The Night Before I Killed Addiction."
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