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I recently saw a commercial that stopped me in my tracks! This doesn’t happen often, or ever, really. I heard the woman on my television say, “Flex Disc even empties itself out while you pee.” Excuse me?! Sure, I’ve heard of menstrual discs before. Even contemplated trying them. But a menstrual disc that empties itself out while I go to the bathroom? That was a novel concept to me! I had to learn more. And then of course share that knowledge with you all. [Photo Credit: Amazon/Hello Giggles]

What is the flex disc?

Flex Disc is a single-use menstrual disc meant to be worn for up to 12 hours. Flex Disc is made from a body-safe material, although the website doesn’t specify what that is. This disc is inserted into the vaginal canal and sits at the base of the cervix in the vaginal fornix. The disc collects your period blood here and leaves your vaginal canal open. 

The website mentions several times and even encourages Flex users to enjoy mess-free period sex while the disk is inserted. I love that! Since the disc sits at the opening of the cervix, the vaginal canal is wide open for business. Flex Disc users have also reported they’ve experienced less cramping since switching to the disc, and the disc produces 60% less waste than other disposable menstrual products. 

How does the flex disc work?

To insert, you pinch the disc between your fingers so it is as long and thin as possible. You insert the disc into the vagina, and when you can no longer keep pinching, release the pinch and push it into place using either a thumb or pointer finger. They also suggest doing some Kegels or squats once it’s in place to make sure the disc is situated. 

You can keep the disc in for up to 12 hours, and at the end of the day, or whenever you’re ready to change it, you insert a pointer finger to take it out. With clean hands, grab onto the edge of the disc, and pull it out of the vagina, keeping it as flat as possible to avoid spilling blood. You empty the blood into the toilet, then throw the disc away. Don’t reuse the disc once you take it out! If you have a particularly heavy period, Flex suggests emptying the disc out throughout the day, then inserting a new one. And here comes the good part! The disc can empty itself while you use the bathroom. 

How does it empty itself?

Essentially, the natural muscle tension of our body helps hold the disc in place as we’re living our life throughout the day. When you sit on the toilet, the muscles relax a bit. If you “bear down” slightly, the disc can somewhat pop out of place, emptying a bit of blood while you empty your bladder. With clean hands, use your thumb or pointer finger to situate the disc back into place just as you did when you first inserted it, then carry on with your day. 

This company stands out

The fact can the disc can naturally empty itself BLEW MY MIND! Our bodies are so cool. If disposable period products aren’t your jam, Flex does have a menstrual cup available as well. I’ve seen other menstrual discs on the market, but the period and sex-positivity that Flex has really stood out to me. They mention period sex several times on their website and use inclusive language to make it clear that this product is for anyone who has a vagina and menstruates. Check them out at flexfits.com

We often hear about the way someone’s body will change during pregnancy, but we don’t really talk much about how bodies change after pregnancy. For example, Chrissy Teigen’s Twitter page taught me that she had to wash herself with a little syringe after peeing when she first gave birth because patting herself dry with toilet paper would be too irritating. And apparently, that’s a common thing people do after giving birth. My limited knowledge on how someone’s body changes after birth made me wonder: between breastfeeding and fluctuating hormones, what happens to a person’s post-baby period after giving birth?

Breastfeeding Hormones Can Affect Your Post-Baby Period

The short answer is it depends — each person’s body is different. I was surprised to find that whether you have a C-Section or vaginal delivery does not affect your periods after giving birth. The biggest thing that affects your periods is whether or not you breastfeed. Breastfeeding produces high levels of the hormone prolactin, which will suppress reproductive hormones. If these hormones are suppressed, you won’t have a period. Although you won’t have a period if you are exclusively breastfeeding, this is not an effective birth control method and you could still get pregnant. If you don’t want to get pregnant again immediately after giving birth, talk to your doctor about birth control methods.

Once you stop breastfeeding, your period can return anywhere from six to nine months after giving birth. Experts recommend you see your doctor if your period hasn’t returned within this window of time after weaning off breastfeeding. If you do not breastfeed after giving birth, your period can return anywhere from four to eight weeks after giving birth. If you get your period very shortly after giving birth, it is recommended to avoid using tampons so your body can fully heal.

Post-Baby Vaginal Discharge

Before your period returns, you will have a vaginal discharge called lochia. Lochia will accompany a vaginal birth or a c-section. This discharge will likely be lighter and not last as long with a c-section. Lochia generally occurs for about four to six weeks after delivery and changes color with time. Initially, the discharge is dark red accompanied by small blood clots. After the first few days, it can be watery and pinkish-brown in color. After the first week, it will likely be yellowish in color. The amount of your discharge can change throughout the day and with physical activity as well. This comes before your period even returns.

Your First Post-Baby Period

Your first period after birth will likely be different than pre-pregnancy because your body is readjusting to menstruation. Unfortunately, there is no way to know what your period will be like after pregnancy until you start menstruating again. Your first period after giving birth might be heavier than usual, and you might experience more cramping due to the uterus clearing everything out.

 After the initial first period, some people’s periods will be lighter after giving birth, some might be heavier, some have less severe cramps than before getting pregnant, while some have more severe cramps. The uterine cavity can get larger after giving birth, causing it to have more lining to shed each month, leading to heavier periods. However, this is not the case for everyone. There is truly no sure way to predict how your period specifically might change after giving birth. Most periods should return to how they were before you got pregnant, although some changes can occur due to other factors.

It’s impossible to predict how someone’s period will be after giving birth, so it is important to pay attention to your body. Your first menstrual cycle after giving birth might be different than you period before pregnancy, but if you notice continuous, painful changes, severe increase in bleeding, or other complications, contact your doctor. You know your body best so trust yourself and speak up if something feels off.

What are period underwear, and how do they work?

If you’re a young person who spends any time on the Internet, you’ve probably seen advertisements for period proof underwear. One brand called Thinx burst onto the period care scene back in 2013 and remains one of the most well known period underwears today. Period proof underwear are essentially designed to fit and feel like regular underwear, but they have very slim padding in them, making them absorbent enough to wear on your period without a tampon or pad.

Created with its “signature innovative technology,” Thinx are lightweight yet absorbent enough to serve as your main period protection during your cycle. They are lightweight, absorbent, and smell proof so you can bleed right into them, no pad or tampon needed, as your main way to manage your period each month. They have five absorbency levels to accommodate all flows. Their heaviest flow underwear absorbs four tampons worth of blood. FOUR TAMPONS! That’s so much blood!! At the end of the day you can just toss them in the laundry with your other items and hang them to dry, then reuse them next month.

Because of the absorbency options, Thinx or other period underwear could be a great option to replace tampons, pads, or menstrual cups completely. Some people also opt to wear Thinx as a backup with their tampon or menstrual cup on their heavier days. Knowing your cycle is key to knowing what kind of absorbency works best for you. A lot of people have turned to period underwear as a more sustainable option for managing their period. If you really think about all the wrappers, plastic, and toilet paper you go through each period because of your period products, it’s A LOT! Using a different pair of Thinx or period proof underwear each day of your cycle could be less stressful because you don’t have to think about changing a tampon throughout the day, and it’s definitely less wasteful. You could even start with just one pair and slowly incorporate them into your menstrual cycle care routine over time. Each pair of underwear costs anywhere from $24-$42, depending on the absorbency. That might seem like a lot for one pair of underwear, but if you think about how much money you spend on other period products each month, that adds up to a whole lot more. 

Since its creation back in 2013, the brand has developed multiple styles and fabrics to choose from, including an absorbent cotton kind. It almost sounds too good to be true, right?

In addition to providing a sustainable and cute option for managing your period, Thinx also has a giveback program where they donate money to providing menstrual products and menstrual education to people around the world. 

Having a period each month can be stressful, painful, and sometimes downright annoying. It’s exciting that in 2020 there are so many innovations around period products and ways to manage your period, allowing you to choose the option that works best for you. Although period proof underwear are a little pricey, if you continue to use them as a replacement for all other period products, it would definitely be worth it. Do a little research and check out Thinx or other period underwear brands and try them out for yourself!