Sustainable menstrual products have been gaining a lot of popularity over the last couple of years - since they are environment friendly, can be more comfortable than single-use sanitary pads, and are also economical in the long-term.
There are many options available within the sustainable period products category, such as period underwear, cloth pads, menstrual cups and menstrual discs.
While both cloth pads and period underwear work by absorbing your period flow and are quite straight forward, many people confuse menstrual cups and discs to be the same since they’re both insertable products.
But, there are in fact many differences between menstrual cups and menstrual discs - from the material they’re made of, to their design and functionality.
So in this blog, let’s talk about everything you need to know about menstrual cups and menstrual discs - so you can make the right decision for your body.
what is a menstrual cup?
A menstrual cup is a bell or cup-shaped period product that is usually made from medical-grade silicone.
It is a flexible device and can be folded to insert inside your vagina.
You should be able to wear a good quality menstrual cup for up to 12 hours without any leaks.
Menstrual cups are very sustainable as one cup can be used for up to 10 years!
Read this blog to learn more about how to use menstrual cups.
what is a menstrual disc?
A menstrual disc is an oval and wide shaped device that comes with a soft bag hanging down from a flexible rim on top.
A disc collects your period flow and is either made up of medical grade polymers (plastic) or silicone.
Menstrual discs are usually single-use products and need to be disposed of after use. However, more recently there are some options available for reusable menstrual discs, which can also be used for up to 10 years.
where does a menstrual cup vs a menstrual disc sit inside your body?
While both these products are inserted inside your vaginal canal, they are positioned differently - which is a big factor in helping you decide which product will work better for you.
Similar to a tampon, a menstrual cup sits at the base of your vaginal canal. It has 3 to 4 tiny air holes around the rim, which helps create a seal with your vaginal walls.
When you insert a menstrual cup, it pops open - creating a suction which keeps the cup intact.
Please note, everyone has varying cervix heights and this also changes throughout your period. So if your cervix is low, your menstrual cup will sit right below your cervix.
Read these blogs on high cervix and low cervix to understand where exactly a menstrual cup will sit in your body.
On the other hand, a menstrual disc is placed high up inside your vaginal canal and it does not use suction to stay in place.
It sits in the vaginal fornix, which is the highest and widest part of your vagina - that’s why a menstrual disc is wide in shape.
The ring of a menstrual disc tucks into your vaginal fornix, right below your uterus, so that the disc can collect your period flow.
how do you insert a menstrual cup vs a menstrual disc?
A menstrual cup is inserted using either a C-fold or punch-down fold. Using the two folds, the cup creates a smaller insertion point - making it super easy to insert. You can learn more about the various folds here.
The folded side of the cup then is horizontally inserted inside the vagina.
As soon as the cup goes inside, it will pop open. You can watch this video on how to insert the Asan cup to see exactly how it works.
A menstrual disc is wider than a cup and comes with a specific side for insertion. It is recommended to lubricate the rim of the disc before inserting it as that will make it easier for the disc to glide inside your vaginal opening.
You need to pinch the centre of the disc, folding it in half or making an ‘8’ figure. Then you can insert the pinched disc horizontally back towards your tailbone.
When it is high enough, slide the top-facing rim behind your pelvic bone with one finger. And then tuck the other end onto the other side of your vaginal fornix. The rim will then open fully, covering the fornix area.
how do you remove a menstrual cup vs a menstrual disc?
The removal technique for a menstrual cup vs a disc is very different - but both need to be done gently and with plenty of time in hand.
To remove a menstrual cup, you first need to locate the cup's stem or ring inside your vaginal canal by inserting a finger.
The Asan cup is made with a unique removal ring which makes it super easy to locate and remove.
Then, slightly bring the base of the cup towards your vaginal opening, after which you need to gently pinch the base to release its suction.
Once you’ve released the suction, you can gently pull the menstrual cup out.
The great thing about removing a menstrual cup is that it can easily be taken out without creating a mess.
Watch this detailed video about how to remove the Asan cup.
In order to remove a menstrual disc, you need to hook your finger on one side of the disc’s rim, which will be tucked into your vaginal fornix.
Slowly untuck it and pull the disk out of your vagina.
One thing to consider when using a menstrual disc is that it can get quite messy when removing it because the disc might collapse as it comes outside - creating spillage of period flow. So a menstrual disc is messier than a menstrual cup.
what material is used to make a menstrual cup vs a menstrual disc?
Before choosing any product, it’s important to understand what material it has been made with for safety reasons - so make sure to do your research about the brand and product.
A good quality menstrual cup is usually made with medical grade silicone. The Asan cup is made from Class 6 medical grade silicone - which is the highest quality silicone available for this device.
Similar to cups, reusable menstrual discs are also made with medical grade silicone or high quality plastic.
On the other hand, single-use menstrual discs are usually made from body friendly plastics and resins.
is it possible to have sex on your period with a menstrual cup vs a menstrual disc?
We are often approached Asan cup users with the question - can I have penetrative sex during my period while using the Asan cup?
Well, unfortunately the answer is no.
As a menstrual cup sits inside your vaginal canal, it blocks your vaginal passage used during penetrative sex. So in order to have sex on your period you’ll need to remove your menstrual cup first.
The good news is this is not the case with menstrual discs - since it is worn up high in the vaginal fornix, making sure it doesn't block your vaginal passage.
So you can absolutely have sex on your period while wearing a menstrual disc - and you or your partner shouldn't even feel the disc at all.
how long can a menstrual cup vs a menstrual disc be worn for?
While this depends on your period flow, you can safely wear both a menstrual cup and a menstrual disc for up to 12 hours.
frequently asked questions
We get it, periods can be stressful! And it can feel daunting at first when experimenting with a new period product. So let’s go through some common questions you may have:
Will my menstrual cup or disc leak?
Leaks while using a menstrual cup or disc will usually only happen when it is overflowing or not sitting in the right position.
In that case, you need to remove and re-insert the cup. Please read this guide on how to avoid leaks with your menstrual cup.
Can a menstrual cup or disc cause pain and discomfort?
If you feel pain while inserting or after insertion of the cup or disc, it means that it’s been inserted in the wrong position.
You’ll need to take it out and re-insert it, so that it sits in the right place without causing you any discomfort or pain.
Always stay calm and take deep breaths while inserting your cup or disc. Often stress or anxiety can lead to muscle contraction in the pelvic area, making it difficult to insert the cup.
Are menstrual cups and discs safe to use?
Most menstrual cups and discs are from materials that are completely safe for your body.
But it’s always good to do your research and ensure that the materials used are of high quality before buying a product.
Can I get an infection from using a menstrual cup or disc?
While using either of the two products, it’s important to maintain cleanliness and hygiene.
Make sure to wash your hands before and after insertion.
A menstrual cup cup and disc needs to be sterilised every month before using it in boiling water for 10-15 minutes. Please follow through the safety guidelines and cleaning instructions of the products that you are using.
Can I get Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS) from using a menstrual cup or disc?
TSS is a bacterial infection generally associated with tampons. Although TSS cases have been reported with menstrual cups and discs, there is a very low risk of getting TSS unless you keep your product inside you for many days.
Make sure to remove your menstrual cup or disc within 12 hours every time you insert it.
Read this blog to learn more about TSS.
Which is better for heavy flow, a menstrual cup or a disc?
Both the products have the capacity to work well for you on your heavy period days.
In fact, they work better than traditional sanitary pads and tampons, where you have to change it every few hours.
Since a disc and menstrual cup can hold 3x times more than other period products, they are both great for people with heavy flow.
Asan’s heavy flow cup is a firm cup and holds up to 30 ml. It’s designed not to leak for you.
What’s better: a menstrual cup or a menstrual disc?
Honestly, the answer depends on the person.
You may want to experiment with both a menstrual cup and a disc before deciding whether menstrual cups or menstrual discs are better for you!
A few questions to ask yourself in the process:
- Is it easy to insert and remove?
- Can I wear it for long hours without leaks?
- Is it easy to clean?
- Is it sustainable and economical?
- Am I comfortable with using this product?
Want to try the Asan menstrual cup? Shop here now.