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The choice between menstrual discs versus cups has made deciding between sustainable period products challenging. While having many reusable menstrual products on the market is incredible, it doesn’t make choosing one easier. However, doing some research and learning about the advantages and disadvantages of these products can help with deciding which would be the better investment for you.

Menstrual Discs Versus Cups: The Advantages

When it comes to menstrual discs versus cups analyzing the advantages of each allows you to determine which is appropriate for your body, your menstrual flow, and your lifestyle.

Menstrual Disc Advantages

Higher Capacity

As it pertains to menstrual discs versus cups and capacity, menstrual discs have an advantage. If you have a heavier flow, discs are a great option. On average, discs can hold 30mL to 76mL and can be worn for up to 12 hours.  However, the disc brand and manufacturer will determine capacity. So, pay attention to the specifications of each disc when shopping around.

Additionally, it’s important to remember that the disc shape is slightly altered when inserted into the vagina. This will influence which disc you choose based on capacity and shape—analyze different brands, shapes, and sizes before making a final purchase.

One Size Fits All

Another advantage regarding menstrual discs versus cups is discs don’t require a specific size. Whereas cups do require a specific size to form a seal around the cervix. Since discs are designed to rest beneath the cervix and pubic bone, it doesn’t need to form a seal to collect flow and prevent leaks.

alt= "Woman in white underwear holding a daisy in front of panties as a metaphor for menstruation"

Less Pressure & Beneficial For Active Lifestyles

Another fact regarding menstrual discs versus cups is discs exert less pressure than cups. Not experiencing excess pressure decreases pelvic cramping, which is beneficial for painful periods or increased cramping at the beginning of menstruation.

Additionally, a lack of pressure means discs don’t press against the bladder or rectum as much. This removes the urge to urinate frequently and makes urination and defecation easier. Discs are also beneficial for those that lead an active lifestyle. Not having to worry about the possibility of accidentally “pushing” your cup out during sports or activities that require bracing the core musculature is definitely beneficial.

Menstrual Cup Advantages

Increased Awareness And Accessibility

Awareness and accessibility is an essential consideration regarding menstrual discs versus cups. And it’s in this category that cups have the advantage. Cup manufacturers outweigh disc manufactures, or at least it seems that way to me. It took quite a while before I realized menstrual discs were available when I was embarking on my journey to a waste-free period.

The fact is there’s a variety of different cups on the market. And, their popularity has created an increased demand for these products, which encourages more manufacturers to develop and release cups. So, it’s natural for cups to be well-known and more accessible than discs.

Beginner Friendly

This is a debatable factor within the menstrual discs versus cups conversation, but I consider cups a better option for beginners. The first most apparent factor is that cups are less intimidating. Comparing the appearance of the menstrual cup and that of the disc especially considering how there’s an increased awareness on how to properly insert and remove cups. You are quicker to consider giving cups a try over discs.

Furthermore, cup removal is less messy than disc removal. There’s little to no mess when removing a cup properly. And, it’s a bit easier to clean and reinsert in a bathroom stall. Carrying small travel-sized feminine wipes allows you to wipe and disinfect the cup before re-inserting.

Lastly, renovations in cup design have taken the worry out of the removal process. The Flex Cup is one such cup and has a soft pull tab removal system that creates less mess. This makes the flex cup an appropriate option if you travel or you’re working and need to empty your cup on the go. Additionally, this innovative removal approach eliminates the worry many newbies have regarding the removal process.

alt= "woman holding a clear menstrual cup with red flower inside cup"

Menstrual Discs Versus Cups The Disadvantages

So, let’s talk about the disadvantages associated with both discs and cups. These disadvantages can illuminate factors that make one particular product less appropriate for you over the other. Which can help you determine which is the better option for you.

Menstrual Disc Disadvantages

It should be obvious when discussing menstrual discs versus cups how intimidating it can be for newbies. The appearance and concerns on correctly inserting, positioning, and removing the disc can overpower the advantages. Additionally, discs aren’t as well known or popular as cups. This means you probably haven’t heard about them, especially the sustainable options.

Lastly, the reality that disc removal can be a tad bit messy can turn you off from choosing the disc. If you’re a busy professional that is on the go or has to work long hours, you’re going to have to empty your disc at some point. And, no one relishes the idea of having a messy clean-up in a bathroom stall at work.

Menstrual Cup Disadvantages

On the opposite end of the spectrum, when it comes to menstrual discs versus cups, sizing is the most significant disadvantage concerning cups. Typically cups come in two different sizes. The first size is suitable if you haven’t given birth vaginally or you’re younger than 35. The second size is best if you’ve given birth vaginally or you’re over the age of 35.

However, this isn’t the standard for all cups. Some manufacturers go by capacity as opposed to the sizing method I mentioned earlier. And cervix height also plays a factor in choosing the cup that’s best suited for your anatomy.  This makes finding and purchasing a cup a bit overwhelming.

In addition to sizing conflicts, you may experience discomfort caused by increased pressure and sensitivity. These complications can interfere with emptying the bladder fully when urinating and interfere with defecating. You may also find your cramps increase because you’re sensitive to the pressure.

Lastly, cup insertion, positioning, and removal are tricky. Learning how to properly use a cup will take time. You’re going to go through a learning curve and experience a lot of mistakes along the way. So, committing to using a menstrual cup will take time and patience.

alt= "Woman thinking to self about menstrual discs versus cups and deciding which is best"

How To Decide?

Choosing the option that works for you is a personal decision. However, there are fundamental factors you may want to consider. Primary considerations include understanding your flow and what type of coverage you need. If you have moderate to heavy flow discs will be an ideal option. Whereas cups may be a better option if you have a light to average flow.

Thinking about pelvic cramping and your sensitivity to menstrual products. If you’ve found tampons to increase menstrual cramps during your periods and create excess pressure on your bladder or made defecating uncomfortable, a firm menstrual cup may not be ideal.

Luckily, you can still use menstrual cups if you prefer them to discs as there are menstrual cups available that don’t create excess pressure and cause these issues. They can also be worn by those with more painful periods and intense period cramps that prefer cups over discs.

If you’re a beginner and find sustainable menstrual products intimidating, starting off with the cup can help ease you into the process. Learning how to use a cup and becoming confident with insertion and removal can increase your openness to giving discs a try. On the other hand, you may find cups difficult and decide to experiment with discs to determine if they’re a better fit. Either way, from personal experience, I believe cups are a gateway product for those new to reusable period products.

You may consider additional options and preferences such as lifestyle, comfort level, how active you are if you travel a lot, etc. Regardless of what you’re looking for, transitioning to sustainable menstrual products is beneficial for your vaginal health and the environment. Not only are you creating less period waste, but you’re decreasing your risk of toxic shock syndrome (TSS) and vaginal imbalance that contribute to yeast and bacterial infections.

So, it’s impossible to go wrong when it comes to menstrual discs versus cups being the better option. Find what works for your specific needs, preferences, and lifestyle, and you’ll have the best choice for your body and your period.