It was not that long ago when selecting a preferred period product was simple: either pads or tampons. While they may have marketed different absorbencies, scents or shapes, typically you select one, put it in place, say a prayer they keep you protected, and go on with your day. Right? Wrong.
Thanks to advances in technology, manufacturing and innovative thinking, we have more options than ever before when it comes time for a visit from Aunt Flo.
Reusable maxi pads, menstrual cups and period underwear have now secured their own piece of the market, but two new products are beginning to change the way we look at our needs, and what we can use to meet them.
What, pray tell, is the difference between a menstrual cup and a menstrual disk? While you may have heard of various cups like the Diva Cup, don't confuse them with the newly released FLEX—a menstrual disk.
Appearing to be a little larger a tampon and a bit like a cross between a diaphragm and a tiny Frisbee, the FLEX is designed to catch up to 12 hours worth of menstrual fluid allowing you to (sort of) set it, and forget it. Inserted up into the fornix of the vagina, also known as the "cul-de-sac" where cervix meets vaginal canal, it's designed to fit perfectly snug while it protects against leaks. FLEX is also hypoallergenic.
So what sets this apart from a cup or tampon? For starters, you can have sex with it in. The site says, "the way that FLEX sits in the vaginal canal allows for intercourse without removal," adding that there is no mess since all menstrual fluids are captured.
You can also comfortably perform both bodily functions reserved for the bathroom without having to remove it, too. However, it's not reusable like many menstrual cups are. You have to dispose of these after removal.
But what about the removal process? Sound messy? Well, it might be. To remove, FLEX's website recommends sitting on a toilet and using a finger to feel for the outer edge. It says to push down on your pelvic muscles (as if you're having a BM) and to hook your finger to pull it straight out. While it does comes with a handy wrapper enabling you to discreetly throw it away in the trash, there's bound to be some crimson remnants in the toilet.
FLEX is available to purchase exclusively through it's website, via a FLEX Plan.
If you were surprised by the innovative design of FLEX, you're bound to love D. by DAME, too. With the tagline "Bleed Red. Think Green." the people that brought you organic cotton tampons have now set out to release a reusable applicator that would be the latest in "green" feminine care items to hit the market.
Originally founded by two friends who both believe "it's us consumers who will make the greatest impact on the planet," the DAME founders explain how they realized there was "enormous waste coming from period products." Thus, the D. reusable tampon applicator by DAME campaign was born on Kickstarter.
As the first reusable tampon applicator, D. is made of three parts (a two part applicator and a lid) and is BPA free, leak free, and is considered to be medical grade, using the antimicrobial Sanipolymers(R) within the Mediprene(R) to essentially sterilize itself, making it hygienically reusable.
But how does it work, exactly? It's simple. Just insert a fresh tampon into the two-part design, and insert it as you would a typical tampon, but without having to dispose of the applicator. When finished, you simply have to wipe it off, rinse it with water, and place it back in it's convenient carrying case.
With an ongoing campaign, the UK-based company hopes to provide estimated delivery this summer to anywhere in the world. To date, it has raised over $60,000 in funding, far exceeding its goal of $27,894.
Regardless of whether you prefer old school pads and tampons, or more forward thinking, environmentally friendly designs such as D. and FLEX, one thing is for sure—we've come a long way from reusing rags or cotton like our ancestors had to. And for that, we can be grateful.