So recently, I’ve been on the hunt for A Better Period.
Yes, folks, it’s TMI time, so click away now if this makes you uncomfortable.
I became interested in a lot of the different startup brands surrounding periods. There was Thinx, which, although scandal prone, at least seemed like the OG “fem-tech period-tech digital native buzzwords etcetera” brand to me. There’s Knix, a bra brand that also has a line of (cheaper) period panties. There’s Sustain and Cora, brands that aren’t changing the products themselves but providing “cleaner” tampons and pads. There’s the OG divacup, and there’s Flex and Softcup, which apparently merged, two “soft” version of the divacup which are somewhat analogous to disposable soft contact lenses and year-round hard contact lenses, to me.
Of these, Thinx and Knix were interesting but expensive. Sustain and Cora were familiar, but not different enough to make the effort of switching products. The divacup was a little intimidating, and also, expensive up-front for someone who wasn’t sure if they would switch entirely. Flex was what intrigued me most (I didn’t know about Softcup at the time) because it was a different product that, at least at first, I could try out at a relatively low cost.
So, I ordered my first box.
I remember distinctly the uncomfortable but ultimately triumphant experience of trying tampons for the first time. It was difficult to get used to, I had to learn a little about my body, but finally, in the end, it worked. It seemed like an alien and unfamiliar object at first. A lot of these things paralleled with Flex–because damn, that thing is weird. Yet because I remember how difficult tampons were to get used to, I thought I should be lenient with Flex at first.
I like that it comes in a box which does not make it look like a period product, but of course, what I really cared about was whether this weird disc-thing would work. I was pretty skeptical, so I tried it on a very, very light day. To my surprise, it did catch everything and worked pretty well. I was looking forward to trying it on my heavier days, and now enthused about the prospect of a cleaner, easier, more convenient and just better period.
But, oh, boy. After a few of the heavier days, I realized I was essentially just using pads. The disc would catch stuff for a while, and then seemed to overflow and spill. Which is maybe fine, except, this happened every 2 hours or so–far from the advertised 12 hours.
But again, remembering my first box of tampons, I thought I was the problem. I decided to give Flex another chance on my next period. Maybe it would be worth it in the long run.
The next month that came around, I tried Flex again, this time being sure to wear maxi pads in case of leaks. While I got better at anticipating the 2-hour limit, nothing really changed. I tried inserting and poking and whatever at every angle I could. No matter what I tried, Flex just did not seem to fit correctly. Maybe I have a particularly small canal, or a very flat, unpronounced pubic bone–I don’t know. I was very jealous of all the reviewers on the internet exclaiming how well it worked after a few tries, and how they switched over entirely to Flex, and how their lives had improved dramatically from this miracle product.
Flex advertises that they fit 95% of women. After trying it myself, I really had to wonder if I was the 5%.
I will say this: I used up Flex on my lighter days, which at least allowed me to go pantiliner-free, and, it was nice to have something to wear at night. While Flex did not catch the flow, it did seem to…direct it a little better, so I had less stain-stress in the morning, whereas that’s almost always a concern when I wear pads alone, and for safety reasons you should never sleep in a tampon. So I can believe it does work for some people–but it does not work for me. It also did not work for a friend of mine. Which means, I am highly skeptical of the 95% claim, or at least wondering who that sample group was. I have some suspicions about the diversity of that group that I’ll keep to myself…
I have resigned myself to a life of ordinary period products (my Flex experience has also scared me away from the divacup a little, as much as I want to be environmentally friendly).
At least now that I know my fate, I can try Sustain or Cora next. Stay tuned.