Tampons are officially a thing of the past! Flex is the new alternative for managing menstruation and it’s overflowing with more advantages than ever.
So what exactly is Flex? It’s not a pad and it’s not a tampon. It’s a flexible, leak-free disc that kinda, sorta works the way a menstrual cup does but with a list of pros (like you can swim with it and have sex with it and it even alleviates cramps) unseen by other period management options, the Flex menstrual disc is in a league of its own.
I knew I wanted to start branching out when it came to managing my period flow because I’d heard a lot of rumors about the pad and tampon industry. After researching and reading the book Periods Gone Public: Taking a Stand for Menstrual Equality by Jennifer Weiss-Wolf, finding an alternative became a top priority. Mainstream pads and tampons — and the chemicals that go into them — aren’t strictly regulated in the US. This was shocking to me. So in the interest of knowing exactly what was going into (and around) my body, I began a search for better, healthier options.
My primary mode of period management is still pads — though I’ve made the switch to paraben-, chlorine-, pesticide-, fragrance-, and dye-free pads. But I’ve come to really love the Flex menstrual discs as another alternative. Here’s why.
Flex offers a ton of options for people who menstruate. Like a tampon, you can wear it while submerged in water and not have to worry about leaking or, you know, if you’re in the ocean, attracting a shark. (I kid, I kid.) However, unlike a tampon, it’s not uncomfortable. For me, personally, I can’t get past the feeling of a tampon just sitting inside of me awkwardly. But with Flex, I don’t feel it at all.
Like a menstrual cup, you insert Flex by pinching the sides together to make it as small as possible (but it’s way smaller than a menstrual cup). You insert it into the vagina, steering it down toward the cervix, then push the top edge up to rest it against your pubic bone. Because of where it sits inside the body, it’s virtually impossible to feel Flex inside of you. This also makes Flex a great option for period sex. It’s leak-free, which means mess-free when you’re getting it on with your partner. And who doesn’t want to have mess-free period sex? It’s a win-win.
You can wear Flex for up to 12 hours. I’ve personally never had a leak using Flex. There’s never been an underwear stain or a bleed-through-my-jeans scenario. I’ve done the deed with Flex and the sheets fared just fine.
The jury is still out on whether or not this menstrual disc is a healthier option re: chemicals and parabens and all the fun stuff that started my period management journey in the first place. TBD.
Another thing to consider: Flex is not as environmentally friendly as its menstrual cup counterparts. When you’re finished with Flex, you simply throw it out. Menstrual cups have a longer shelf-life since you can rinse and reuse, making them inherently better for the environment. Some menstrual cups boast about lasting 10 years if given the proper care. You won’t get more than one 12-hour usage out of each Flex disc but when compared with pads — the recommended change-time of which is every three to four hours — Flex has much more environmental efficacy, proving it to be the better option.
If you’re looking for a new period management option, I would definitely recommend Flex. It requires a bit of patience when you’re first getting started and a certain level of getting comfortable with your body. (There’s no string here, ladies. You’re going all the way in to make sure that disc gets placed properly. And taken out.) But in the long run, at least for me, those are minor details on a journey of finding the best period management option for me. If having sex and swimming on your period are for you, if no leakage is for you, and if no cramping is for you, then Flex might just be for you.
Steph Osmanski is a freelance writer and social media consultant who specializes in health and wellness content. Her words have appeared on Seventeen, Life & Style, Darling Magazine, and more. She is currently pursuing an MFA in Creative Writing at Stony Brook Southampton and writing a memoir.