Since the tender age of 13 (14?) I’ve probably spent an average of $20 on feminine care products per month — that tallies up to about $5,280 to date, and I’ve probably got another decade or so of recurring visits from Aunt Flo to go. Admittedly, I didn’t truly consider how much waste that amounted to until [cut: only] a couple of years ago when my husband and I bought a house on a septic waste system. We had to have grown-up conversations about how frequently we needed to get it emptied, what toilet paper brand and style we should use, and how things like tampons should never be flushed down the toilet. I had been looking into transitioning to environmentally-friendly options in most facets of my life anyway, and Instagram kept serving me reusable period care products anyway, so giving the Nixit’s silicone menstrual disc a try felt right.
What is the Nixit Menstrual Cup?
The name is a bit misleading here... it’s called a cup, but it’s actually a menstrual disc, so that is what I shall refer to it as here. Nixit, a female-founded, Canadian company, is certainly not the only company making menstrual discs, but it is the first and only one I’ve tried and have not had any reason to look elsewhere. Their’s is made from 100% medical-grade silicone, and has a lifespan of 5 years, give or take. If you don’t use it frequently, it will likely last longer, and if you see any holes or rips, or the material feels sticky, you should replace it sooner. The bowl is quite thin, with a thicker rim, and altogether quite flexible.
- Price: $42
- Material: 100% medical-grade silicone
- Lifespan: up to 5 years
- Size: one very flexible size
- Color: the menstrual disc is pink, but the (branded) box comes in three different colors you can choose from
- Who it’s for: all who menstruate
The menstrual cup vs. menstrual disc debate: Which is better?
To be honest, dipping into the (very limited) reusable feminine care market was very much like dating: I was nervous. I was looking for something long-term. I had to go into it with an open mind, but with standards. (Never settle, readers!) I was excited, but also skeptical. How messy was this going to get? How long would I be able to commit before I got tired of the relationship? I finally took the plunge. My first trial with the menstrual cup did not go… well — let’s just chalk it up to user error — but I remained optimistic. After a couple months of really trying to make it work, my Saalt menstrual cups (I tried two different sizes) and I had the dreaded but necessary ‘it’s not you, it’s me’ conversation and parted ways.
I went back to my reliable — albeit annoying — pads and tampons for a few months, and then decided I was ready to give the menstrual disc from Nixit a try. Admittedly, I felt a little jaded before our first interaction, but it was there, so I might as well try it. Like the cup, there was a learning curve on how to properly use the uniquely-shaped piece of silicone, and if I’m being totally honest, the disc was a little less appealing at first because it just didn’t look like it would work. Just... how was this cute little vessel, which really just looks like the perfect bowl for snacking almonds and probably most definitely is not shaped like my vaginal cavity, supposed to reliably retain fluid for up to 12 hours? Surely it will spill. And you’re supposed to wear this thing and have mess-free sex? Quit while you’re ahead, buddy!
But thanks to, I guess, really good design, it really did work as advertised.
A convenient surprise
Fun fact, the disc is self-emptying, so while you’re on the toilet, if you bear down, it will literally empty itself without you having to remove the entire cup from your body. I apparently did not do my due diligence before testing the menstrual disc, and when this happened, I thought I did it all wrong — again. Then I visited Nixit’s FAQ page and realized this is totally normal!
Both the cup and disc can be worn up to 12 hours before you should remove it to empty and clean it, but this self-emptying feature is so convenient on those heavy days (I’m looking at you, days 2 and 3 of every single cycle). If it does empty itself out, just do a quick check and make sure it’s still tucked behind your pubic bone.
You’ll want to sterilize your menstrual disc (boil it in water for 5 minutes) between cycles, and wash it using a mild or unscented soap between wears.
Personally, I try to time my outings so that I’m home when I know I will need to take it out for a cleaning (so far I’ve been able to do this successfully). If this were not the case, I would probably bring a cup or bottle of water with me into the bathroom and give it a rinse over the toilet and tuck it in a Ziploc bag. Hopefully I’ll have a clean backup on me. It’s not pleasant, but what part of your menstrual cycle is?
Pros & cons
- Economical ($42 might feel steep for something you’re totally unfamiliar with, but you’ll break even after approximately 2-3 cycles. The cost per menstrual cycle, assuming you use it for 5 years? 70 cents a cycle)
- 70mL capacity, which is 4 times more than a super tampon
- Lower risk of Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS) compared to tampon use (TSS is caused by bacterial growth, and the non-porous silicone material discourages it)
- Safe to use during sex
- Learning curve
- Clean up can be a bit messier than what you’re used to
- More expensive upfront
The final verdict
Even though I personally didn’t love the experience of using the menstrual cup, I don’t at all think it’s a bad product. It just isn’t for me. I just couldn’t get the hang of it consistently. I tried two different sizes and I was either pushing it too far or not far enough, and I rarely heard or felt the pop that ensured the rim was properly sealed (if it isn’t, you’ll leak). Occasionally, I inserted it correctly, but I never had the peace of mind or confidence to go out and about in the world without a protective layer of a pantiliner, pad, or period underwear. It also seals by suctioning to you, and if not in correctly, you can feel the suction (not in a good way).
I found the menstrual disc way easier to use than the cup. I can honestly say I got the full hang of it after two cycles. It was easier to insert (with the cup you have to fold it just so to get it in comfortably, with the disc you simply squeeze the sides in to make it tampon-shaped) and identify when it was actually in the proper place (tucked behind your pubic bone). I also literally cannot feel it when I’m wearing it.
Aside from them being better for the environment (how many pads and tampons do you think make their way to landfills), you’ll find yourself saving so much money in the long run, making fewer trips to the restroom (since they can hold way more than disposable options), and not having to tuck a medley of pads and tampons in your purse whenever you go out. Yep, it’s a keeper.
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