So, you’ve decided you’re ready to make the switch to sustainable period products. Welcome! We’re delighted you’re taking the time to make an informed decision about something that is being inserted into your body. With so many menstrual care options on the market today, the decision making process can be admittedly daunting. But, we’ll walk you through the difference between a menstrual disc vs cup.
There are few key differences between the two—it’s a matter of shape & size differentiation and they involve different insertion techniques. But, why make the switch? What’s the payoff? We’ve given this point our undivided attention in the rest of this article.
For some people, these products require a learning curve. That goes for both menstrual discs and cups. Finding the product that’s best for you will include some trial and error. But the good news is, once you find an alternative menstrual product that fits you, you’ll be walking on air.
This article will hopefully solve your menstrual disc vs cup dilemma and dive deeper into the technicalities of what should be your personal period fighter.
Your Menstrual Disc vs Cup Comparison Chart
If you’re tired of changing your tampons and pads every 4 to 8 hours, menstrual discs and cups are great alternative menstrual products to turn to. They’re both inserted into the vagina and collect rather than absorb period blood.
Additionally, both of these options offer 12 hours of protection and hold a higher capacity than pads and tampons (meaning they’re a life-saver for those with heavy flow). They’re beyond dispute the most favorable option for people who pursue an active lifestyle.
We’ve created a chart to help you decide between the two. We’ve divided the features into a few categories (such as shape, suction, and capacity).
Menstrual Discs and Menstrual Cups—What’s in it for Me?
Shape & Comfort
Menstrual cups are bell or cone-shaped while discs are, well, disc-shaped. Cups usually have a stem to assist with removal and are more rigid than discs, which have a wider and shallower body.
Menstrual discs do appear larger out of the box but don’t judge by the looks of it. When pinched for insertion, discs can be the same width as a tampon. Cups are smaller but that’s because they sit in the narrower portion of the vagina and as a result, they hold less menstrual fluid.
A good menstrual cup or a disc should above all provide you with comfort. That said, some people find cups to be less comfortable than discs, as they sit in the vaginal canal which is brimming with nerve endings and typically require suction to create a secure seal. Discs are suction-free!
While cups sit in the vaginal canal, similar to tampons, a menstrual disc conversely sits in the vaginal fornix, at the base of your cervix, and tucks behind the pubic bone to stay in place. For those with a prolapse, a disc may offer more structural stability if the vaginal muscles are weak.
Due to the different placements, the insertion technique for each product is slightly different too. To compare the process, we’ve parsed it into three different phases—when the device is folded, when it’s inserted, and when it's sealed into place.
Fold – There are three main techniques you can use to insert a menstrual cup—a c-fold, a 7-fold, and a punch-down fold. A menstrual disc has only one fold, being pinched at the center. That said, it’s a bit less stressful to work out which fold will get the cup to open properly upon insertion.
Insert – To insert a cup, hold the fold firmly and insert it into your vagina with the rim facing up, positioning it in the lower canal, a few inches below your cervix.
Inserting a folded menstrual disc is similar. Like we mentioned before, the disc needs to be inserted past the canal and into the fornix, right below your cervix.
Seal – While a menstrual cup uses suction to create a seal against the vaginal walls, a menstrual disc doesn't. This helps a bit upon removal as breaking the suction seal can take some getting used to. Due to the seal and the suction, many prefer not to use a menstrual cup with an IUD, whereas a suction-free menstrual disc is more suitable with an IUD (although it’s always important to check with your healthcare provider first).
When ready for removal, cups will require you to break the suction/seal and typically have a stem which will help to pull it down and out of your vagina.
Discs, on the other hand, are removed by gently bearing down to help untuck from the pubic bone and hooking the rim to pull out. This may be a messy endeavor as discs hold more menstrual fluid, but removing over the toilet or in the shower will catch the contents.
Possible solution: The messy removal inconvenience can be compensated by a disc’s handy self-emptying feature. Some people also refer to this as the “auto-dump”. Meaning, you can empty the content of your disc while gently bearing down on the toilet without needing to fully remove the device. Tilt your hips forward and let the blood escape! Try not to fear, this doesn’t mean you’re leaking. Once you’re done, use your finger to push the disc back into place and go about your day! This way, when you remove the disc at the 12 hour mark, it won’t be as full.
Sizing is much more critical when choosing a cup than a disc, and this is purely down to human anatomy.
If a menstrual cup is too small it may not create a leak-proof seal with your vaginal walls, which can lead to spillage. If too large, it can cause discomfort. And with many different sizes on the market meant for different ages or flows, choosing the right one can get confusing.
The vaginal fornix is not as narrow as the vaginal canal. It’s a tented area that’s pretty much the same size regardless of age and experience. For this reason, most menstrual discs are about the same design and size. This stops the sizing from being a guessing game altogether.
Sex or No Sex?
We belive period sex is not talked about enough – which is why you might be confused about how this could possible work while wearing an inserted device! Believe it or not, vaginal canals elongate when aroused. For cup users, having penetrative sex is not recommended as the canal will be blocked. Inversely, a disc allows for mess-free sex as the canal is empty. If you choose to, try a disc during solo or partnered sex!
Reusable vs Disposable
Swapping traditional period products with reusable products is a good idea for those that are tired of having to deal with their period so much. It’s those moments when you get through your tampons at such a rate that they run out at the least convenient of times.
And it’s not only a matter of convenience. Reusable period products can save you money and they go easy on the environment . But how do our cups and discs fare in this department?
Most menstrual cups are reusable and they can last you anywhere from 1 to 10 years, depending on the manufacturer.
There are disposable menstrual discs and reusable discs as well. While these products have traditionally been made from plastic and used as single-use products, nowadays more and more reusable menstrual discs are emerging.
How to Choose the Right Product
A good menstrual cup or disc should come with all the above-mentioned benefits. Most critically, it should give you reliable, worry-free protection even on the heaviest days. nixit is a disc-shaped reusable menstrual cup that comes with the nifty features listed below.
Convenience. nixit offers safe 12-hour long protection.
Money saving. This reusable disc will last you up to 5 years (think of how many tampons or pads worth of savings this is)
Simple selection. This one-size-fits-all reusable menstrual disc makes sizing a no-brainer.
Ease of use. Discs are suction-free, meaning you can insert, set it and forget it.
Safe from leaks. The high-capacity disc can hold 70 ml of menstrual fluid, and that’s a lot! This means heavy periods don’t have to keep you on the edge anymore.
Period sex. You can enjoy mess-free, solo or partnered period sex while the product is inserted.
Safe. It’s made of body-safe materials (100% medical grade silicone) and it’s FDA registered to boot.
“Switching to the nixit cup changed the game for me with pretty much all the issues I had with other cups. The silicon is so soft that it doesn't interfere with my bathroom use, and it doesn't worsen my cramps when bloating is particularly heavy. The disc shape doesn't shift as I move through the day, so I can easily wear it for the full twelve hours before taking it out to clean.” - Reddit review
So, Which One Will It Be? Menstrual Disc vs Cup—The Final Verdict
Both menstrual discs and cups can give you great zero-waste period protection. But it’s most important how they fare in your book and which one is more likely to solve your menstrual problems.
A menstrual cup might work better for beginners, as the stem might give them more confidence with product removal. Either way, expect 1–3 cycles to pass until you get the hang of it, cup or disc—this goes for both.
A disc can be a better option for you if you have sizing issues, or need extra-safe protection (self-emptying feature here is a plus). Preferring comfort and period sex is also a deciding factor here.
Ready to start your personal period revolution? We make it our mission here at nixit to help keep you in the know. That said, visit our central knowledge hub and make sure to check out our Comprehensive Menstrual Disc A to Z Beginner Guide.
Or take another route on your alternative period protection journey, learning from various knowledge sources available here at nixit: