I’m coming up on my 25thish anniversary of my first visit from Aunt Flo. And over that those 2.5 decades, I’ve had the same exact routine every month: tampons and pads. I wasn’t necessarily looking to spice things up in that department, but when I saw the ads on Facebook for a free trial box of FLEX disposable tampon alternatives, I figured, why not give them a try?
And then share every sordid detail with the entire Internet.
So, here’s how my tampon-free week went, so you can see if making the switch is right for you.
FLEX: What is it? (No, really.)
Okay, so let’s get straight to it. The FLEX disc looks a like a very large condom with a thick but flexible band around the outside. (Oh, the jokes.) It sits just past the vaginal canal in the vaginal fornix — go ahead, Google that — where it catches, rather than absorbs, the blood from your menstrual flow.
(I’ve never used a menstrual cup, but the FLEX is a similar idea to that but a much smaller and — from what I hear — a more comfortable device that sits farther in, which helps to cut down on cramping.)
It’s designed to be leak-free for up to 12 hours and hold up to 6 teaspoons of liquid. Which, by the way, is good since the average woman menstruates about 3 tsp. in 24 hours.
It claims to be hypoallergenic, with no natural rubber latex, BPA, or phthalates, and is said to have zero chemicals or toxins like most tampons have. It’s doctor-approved and made to not alter your pH balance in your vagina. And, it was designed by women. Well, that sold me.
At this point, I feel like it’s important to give you way TMI about my period, so that you have a context for understanding whether you think these would work for you too.
So here goes:
On days 1 and 2 of my period, it’s the real deal. I typically go through 3–5 super tampons, and I absolutely need to have a overnight liner on too. All day long.
Days 3 and 4 are lighter, but I still use 3–4 regular tampons with a liner. By day 5, I can get away with 1–2 tampons and/or a liner and be okay.
On my heavier days, I do tend to be a little clotty too.
Whew, glad we got that covered.
So, the question is, did it work?
FLEX: Putting it to the test
I was a little nervous putting the FLEX in for the first time, because it’s basically the exact opposite of what I am used to with a tampon. Instead of sliding it in and up, you’re sliding it in and down. Seriously, this is one of those instances where a picture speaks a thousand words, so see for yourself the step-by-step at their website. But, essentially, you want it positioned so that it blocks off the vaginal canal, catching all the blood.
Since there’s no string on the FLEX to pull it back out, I had mild heart palpitations that my dinner plans that night would be cancelled and I’d be in stirrups in the ER with some doctor using forceps to get it out.
But that didn’t happen.
Once the FLEX was in, I couldn’t feel it at all. I did go ahead and wear a liner, though, because I was a little dubious. The package said it works for up to 12 hours, so when I put it in around 7:00 that morning, I left home without any backup supplies.
This was a mistake.
By mid-morning, I felt uncomfortably wet. I thought maybe it was just the way the FLEX collected and held your blood, basically like a dam in your nethers. But when I went to check…let’s just say I was glad I’d put that liner on as backup.
When I removed the FLEX, I realized the fatal flaw in its design. You have to put your finger all the way up your vaginal canal to hook it over the edge of the device and pull it out. I was knuckle deep. When I came out of the stall, it looked like I’d been part of a murder scene. Not an ideal situation, when you’re in a public bathroom. At your kids’ school.
Just a friendly warning: don’t change your FLEX anywhere near those white sheets.
But I stayed the course, and kept using FLEX. By days 3–4 of my period, the device did work a little better on those lighter days, although I continued to use a liner too.
FLEX: The bottom line
From the pretty packaging to the chic press photos, you’ve got to love them for trying to make periods glamorous. I mean one of their selling points is that you can enjoy clean sex during your period with the FLEX disc in (I did not try).
But for me, this was a total Facebook Ad fail. My free trial pack required me to sign up for a subscription you can cancel at any time, and I promptly did just that.
The good news is, you get a pack to try for free! So, you may want to test it out for yourself to see if they work for you, since every woman’s body is different. And, I’d love to hear about your experiences.
But, if I may, let me recommend you go ahead and stash some tampons and pads in your bag too. You know, just in case.
You can get your free sample box of FLEX disposable tampon alternatives at their website. Or, on Facebook.
More reviews from our Damn You, Facebook series:
Why Bombas socks are the bomb
What we really think about THINX period underwear
Like a Glove Smart Leggings: Can they help you find the perfect pair of jeans?
Our honest review of the True & Co. Second Skin bra
Testing out the Thrive Causemetics Infinity Waterproof eyebrow liner
Stitchfix: A brutally honest she said/she said review
If you’ve got a product you’ve seen everywhere and you’re curious about, hit us up and we might try it! Email firstname.lastname@example.org.