How to use menstrual disc and side effects
We have come a long way since using cloth during menstrual cycle. Today, there are sanitary pads, tampons, menstrual cups, and more options available. Now, the spotlight is on menstrual disc, which may be better than pads or tampons in case of heavy bleeding, as per an August 2023 study published in the journal BMJ Sexual & Reproductive Health. It showed that on average, this period product held the most blood at 61 ml unlike pads, tampons, and menstrual cups that held 20 to 50 ml. Read on to find out if you should use a menstrual disc.
What is a menstrual disc?
Tampons and sanitary pads absorb blood when we get periods, but a menstrual disc collects menstrual blood. It is a flexible, circular-shaped period product that is typically made of medical-grade silicone or other safe materials, says Dr Archana Dhawan Bajaj, Gynecologist, Obstetrician and IVF Expert, Nurture IVF Clinic, New Delhi.
How to use a menstrual disc?
To use a menstrual disc, follow these steps:
• Wash your hands properly.
• Fold the disc in half.
• Insert the folded disc into your vagina, aiming it toward the lower back and ensuring it covers the cervix.
• Once inside, ensure the disc unfolds and forms a seal against the vaginal walls to prevent leaks.
To remove the menstrual disc, do the following –
• Wash your hands thoroughly.
• Locate the bottom of the menstrual disc, which typically has a small tab or ridge for easy removal.
• Gently pull on the tab or ridge while keeping the disc level to prevent spillage.
• Empty the collected menstrual blood into the toilet.
• Rinse the disc with water and reinsert it or replace it.
The wear time for a menstrual disc can vary depending on your flow and the specific brand or model you use. Most manufacturers recommend wearing a menstrual disc for up to 12 hours before emptying it. But always monitor your flow and empty the disc as needed to prevent period leaks or discomfort.
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Menstrual disc on being the most effective period product
Menstrual discs offer several advantages such as a higher capacity compared to tampons or pads, and they can often be worn for longer periods without leaks. However, what is considered the “most effective” period product depends on factors such as comfort, ease of use and personal preferences, says Dr Bajaj. Some women find menstrual discs more comfortable and less noticeable than other period products, while others prefer menstrual cups or other options.
Menstrual disc vs menstrual cup
Menstrual discs and menstrual cups are similar as they are both reusable and made of medical-grade materials. However, there are some key differences:
• Menstrual discs are shaped like shallow bowls or discs, while menstrual cups are typically bell-shaped with a stem for removal.
• Menstrual discs sit at the base of the cervix to collect blood directly, while menstrual cups create a seal below the cervix and collect blood in a cup-like structure.
• The discs generally have a higher capacity than the cups.
• Menstrual discs are usually removed by hooking a tab or ridge at the bottom, while menstrual cups are pinched at the base to break the seal and then removed by the stem.
Side effects of menstrual discs
Using menstrual discs is generally considered safe, but like any period product, there are potential risks and side effects. Some of the common side effects of menstrual discs include:
1. Insertion difficulties
Reading the instructions and inserting the disc correctly may take some time. So. some women may find it challenging to insert the disc correctly, especially if they are new to using this type of menstrual product.
If the disc is not positioned correctly or does not form a proper seal, it can lead to period leaks. So, learning how to position it properly is essential to avoid period leaks.
3. Infection risk
As with any menstrual product, maintaining proper hygiene is crucial to reduce the risk of infection, says the expert. Wash your hands before handling the disc and follow the manufacturer’s cleaning instructions.
4. Allergic reactions
Some women may be sensitive or allergic to the materials used in menstrual discs. It’s essential to choose a disc made from hypoallergenic materials if you have any known sensitivities.
It’s all about getting the hang of it and being hygienic!