Menstrual Cups vs Discs: What's the Difference?
Menstrual cups have been around for quite some time, but now there’s a new kid on the block - the reusable menstrual disc! They both serve the same purpose (to collect your menstrual flow) but are very different products with varying pros and cons to be considered.
Menstrual Cups vs Menstrual Discs: How are they Similar?
- They both collect menstrual flow (rather than absorbing it like tampons)
- They are both typically made from medical grade silicone or TPE
- They are both reusable (provided you are using a reusable menstrual disc)
- Both are folded, inserted and worn inside the body
- You can do a range of physical activities with both such as swimming, dancing, yoga, running and more
- Both can provide leakproof protection by creating a seal with the vaginal walls
- Both should be used with caution if you have an IUD, as they can become entangled with your IUD strings, causing it to be dislodged
Menstrual Cups vs Menstrual Discs - How are they Different?
1. Size and Shape
Menstrual cups are usually smaller than discs and have a more rigid cone or bell-shaped base with a stem to assist with removal. Menstrual discs may appear ‘larger’ out of the box, but don’t let that intimidate you! The rim of a disc looks a lot larger at first glance, but when folded for insertion it becomes quite long and thin. The base of the disc is also much more flexible, which can feel more comfortable inside the body if you have concerns about cramping or bladder sensitivity. Discs are usually wider and shallower than cups due to how they are worn in the body.
A menstrual cup can be positioned lower down or higher up in the vagina depending on personal preference, and should always be placed directly below the cervix to catch your flow. Menstrual discs are inserted with one end of the rim wedged in the area behind the cervix (known as the fornix), and the other end held securely in place behind the public bone. Think of it like a bowl that surrounds the entire cervix!
Menstrual discs may be a better choice for those with a heavy flow or who pass lots of clots if they struggle with higher capacity menstrual cups. This is because menstrual discs generally have a higher capacity and wider top opening to allow for large clots (for example, the Ziggy Menstrual Disc holds up to 76ml of fluid and ‘High’ size Lumma discs can hold up to 60ml). Keep in mind that the full capacity of a disc can be variable, as the base is so flexible and can become compressed inside the body depending on how it is positioned.
4. Flexibility or Firmness
Menstrual cups come in varying degrees of firmness (learn why here), but the base and rim are both rigid and designed to ‘pop open’ once inserted. Menstrual discs, on the other hand, only have a rigid rim and the base or ‘bowl’ is made of a much thinner, more flexible silicone. The disc rim springs open to keep the disc in place, while the base usually
Both cups and discs are folded to insert, although a little differently. There are many different folds you can use for a menstrual cup, such as the ‘C’ fold or ‘punch-down’ fold. The rim of a disc is pinched in half to form a long, thin ‘8’ shape. You insert a menstrual cup into your vagina and allow it to ‘pop’ open and make contact with the vaginal walls to create a seal. A menstrual disc is inserted flat and pushed to the very back of your vaginal canal where one end of the rim is placed in the space behind the cervix, then the other end is tucked behind the pubic bone.
To remove a menstrual cup, you pinch the base to release the suction seal before wiggling the cup down and out of the vagina, which can usually be done while keeping the cup upright and without spills. Be warned that menstrual discs can be a little messier! To remove a disc, there is no suction seal so you only need to hook your finger under the rim to dislodge it. The disc can then be removed from the vagina at a 45-degree angle. This, combined with the fact that a disc has a flexible ‘bowl’ that is compressed during removal, can lead to some spillage. Therefore, you should remove your disc only over the toilet or in the shower. We love that the Lumma Disc comes with a silicone string to help with easier removal.
7. Period Sex
Because menstrual discs have a thin, soft and flexible ‘bowl’, they can be safely and comfortably worn during sex. The disc will hold your menstrual blood so you can enjoy sex during your period without the mess, and are virtually undetectable if positioned correctly. Menstrual cups on the other hand have a much firmer base and most have a stem, meaning they shouldn’t be worn during sex. Read our full guide to mess-free period sex here.
How to Know Which One to Choose
It really comes down to personal preference and what works for your body! It can take some trial and error and trying different options to find what’s best for you. Some people have not had success with cups but love discs, and vice versa. Generally speaking:
- Choose a menstrual disc if you’re looking for an option to wear during sex
- Try a disc if you’ve tried a menstrual cup before and found that it caused cramping, pain or bladder sensitivity. The thin and flexible base of a disc can be more comfortable for sensitive bodies. Another alternative is to try a soft menstrual cup.
- Choose a menstrual cup if you’re not up for the extra messiness of a disc - it’s much easier to keep the contents inside a menstrual cup with less spillage during removal.
Our Favourite Menstrual Discs
The Ziggy Cup
The Ziggy Cup has an impressive capacity (76ml) and is made from the softest, silkiest silicone for ultimate comfort. The double rim is designed to hold it securely in place and prevent leaks.
We love Lumma discs as they come in three different sizes (low, medium and high, to suit different cervical positions) and have a handy silicone string that makes removal a little easier. The fun colours are great too - who doesn’t want a rainbow unicorn coloured disc to brighten up their period?!
Stamina Freedom Cup Menstrual Disc
The Freedom Cup is available in one size and has been designed for people wanting to enjoy mess-free period sex. It features a triple ring rim and a thin silicone membrane with raised textured dots on the body.