When it comes to menstrual cups, I’ve tried everything. Soft cups, stiff cups, smaller cups, larger cups, orange cups, pink cups, and even collapsible cups. But it wasn’t until I tried the FLEX menstrual cup that I was finally able to say — “Yes, this is the one. This is the menstrual cup that I’m going to use for the next decade.” This one period product has totally changed my period for the better — and hopefully forever.
Before we get into what makes the FLEX Cup ($39.99) so awesome, let’s talk a little bit about menstrual cups in general. Menstrual cups are an alternative period product, a category that includes anything that helps collect menstrual blood that isn't a tampon or pad. Once relegated to the shelves of natural food stores (I literally bought my first one at my local food co-op), menstrual cups have gained in popularity in recent years as people with periods look for more body-friendly and earth-friendly ways to manage their flow.
Menstrual cups are elongated silicone or rubber cups — think a white wine glass, rather than a red wine glass — with a silicone or rubber “stem” that projects out of the bottom. In order to use one, you fold it up, insert it into the vagina, and make sure that it opens all the way and suctions on to the cervix. (That suction is really important, because it’s what keeps the cup from leaking.) When you’re ready to empty the cup — and, unlike tampons, cups only need to be taken out every 10 to 12 hours, depending on your flow — reach inside, grip the sides and break the seal to pull it out, empty the blood into the toilet, wash with gentle soap and water, and reinsert.
And while that description sounds simple enough, I’m here to tell you from a lot of experience that there are quite a few points where you can mess up — and end up with a mess on your hands. For example, I somehow always manage to get major leaks on the second day of my period. I also sometimes have trouble getting the cup out, because I have a high cervix. (I’ve spent more time crouched on the bathroom floor pushing down on my pelvic muscles then I’d care to admit.)
I was a tampon user for all of my teens and into my twenties — but I always hated them. I hated that I would forget to move the string aside when I peed and would end up with a gross soggy string in my underwear; I hated that they scratched my vagina on light flow days; and I hated that they created so much environmental waste. So I figured a menstrual cup — which I usually couldn’t feel at all, didn’t create waste, and never scratched my vagina — was the best choice for me, regardless of the problems I sometimes had with them.
If you've ever struggled to remove your menstrual cup without spillage, Flex's innovative design is going to change your periods for the better. According to their website, the Flex Cup's "patented ReleaseRingTM breaks seal, and removes the cup in one smooth motion." With less hassle, this cup is about as easy-to-use as a tampon.
Then, the FLEX Cup entered my life. FLEX is best known for their disposable period discs, which their users say not only collect blood but also help reduce cramping. Following the success of that first product and after intense user research via a group of customers they’ve dubbed “The Uterati,” the Flex team decided to develop a menstrual cup. But they didn’t want to just put another menstrual up out into what was becoming a crowded market. Nope, they wanted to create the menstrual cup that would solve the problems of menstrual cup users everywhere.
Turns out, I’m far from the only person who has difficulty with leaks and removal. Flex listened to their customers and acquired a smaller company, Keela, that had developed a prototype for menstrual cup that addressed these problems. They refined the design so they could produce it at scale, got a patent, and released “the first menstrual cup that’s as easy to remove as a tampon.”
After so many claims by so many menstrual cup brands — no leaks! softer silicone! harder silicone! easy removal! — I was skeptical that Flex was bringing anything new to the table. But after one period with the FLEX Cup that was sent to me by the company, I was sold. The soft loop at the bottom is attached to the rim of the cup so that when you put your finger through it and pull, it breaks the seal and easily pulls out. No more reaching way up inside your body to wiggle it free— it seriously just pops right out.
Also, much to the relief of my underwear budget, my day-two leakage problem is resolved. I think it’s because the FLEX Cup is the Goldilocks of menstrual cup stiffness: While soft menstrual cups never opened up all the way for me and stiff ones were uncomfortable, the FLEX Cup is just right. It opens up easily and, once it’s in, I don’t even feel it. In fact, I didn’t even realize that I was feeling my other cup until I wasn’t feeling the FLEX Cup, which is a pretty incredible revelation when it happens.
So whether you’re a veteran menstrual cup user like me or you’ve hesitated to take the leap up until now, I can’t recommend the FLEX Cup enough. Flex even offers a “discovery kit” ($39.99) that includes two menstrual discs and the cup, so you can try both products and decide which works best for you. Even better? Each kit comes with access to a Flex customer service rep who will help walk you through the process if you’re having trouble figuring it out on your own.
Environmentally friendly? Check. Easy to use? Check. Real protection against leaks? Check. I found the FLEX Cup to be a truly next-level period product.