Tampons are likely as much of a fixture in your life as your smartphone and your go-to pair of ankle boots (as in, you use them without even thinking about it). But did you know that applicator tampons have remained essentially unchanged since their invention in 1931?
For Lauren Schulte and Erika Jensen, founders of The Flex Company, that did not sit right (literally or figuratively). “People are working to colonize Mars. But when we pee, our tampon string gets wet. Our menstrual cups are boiled on the stovetop in the same pan as our mac and cheese,” says Schulte. Behind the times, much?
“If we used a period product that was actually designed to solve our major problems (leaking, cramping, bloating, smell, frequent changes, infections), we wouldn’t dread our periods.”
To bring menstrual care into the 21st century, Schulte and Jensen decided it was time to make a move themselves—for women, by women. And that’s when the FLEX menstrual disc™ was born. “Everyone thinks their period is uncomfortable, and that our discomfort is unavoidable,” says Schulte. “But I firmly believed that if we used a period product that was actually designed to solve our major problems (leaking, cramping, bloating, smell, frequent changes, infections), we wouldn’t dread our periods.”
Scroll down to learn how FLEX works—and why it might be time to swap your tampons.
Tampons were invented in your great grandmother’s time
As the old saying goes, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it—right? Well, that doesn’t necessarily hold if you find that tampons (which were invented more than 80 years ago) are uncomfortable or problematic in your day-to-day steez.
“I’d suffered from yeast infections every month since I started getting my period. When I was 28…a nurse told me that tampons were disrupting my vaginal pH each month, which was the underlying culprit of my infections,” Schulte says. “It didn’t matter that they were organic. She told me that the absorbent cotton was to blame.”
Because tampons are situated in the vaginal canal, some women can actually feel them while wearing them—which was another buzzkill for Schulte and Jensen. “I ordered and tried more than 30 period products from all over the world, only to discover that they were largely the same products made by a handful of manufacturers, re-packaged and rebranded as ‘new,’” Schulte says.
Got period problems? It might be due to your products, not your body
The more they tested and researched, the more Schulte, Jensen, and their team realized the perfect period product hinges on one major factor: a no-plug design. Translation: FLEX collects rather than absorbs menstrual blood—and is the only internally worn period product that doesn’t plug your vaginal canal and isn’t linked to toxic shock syndrome (TSS). Mic. Drop.
“FLEX fits inside of the the vaginal fornix, the space immediately surrounding the cervix, which is wider, more spongy and less sensitive than the vaginal canal,” Schulte explains. And since it’s not causing distention in your vagina (AKA the feeling that can occur when you use a plug product, like tampons), some women say it even reduces their cramps and bloating compared to tampons. As in, 70 percent of FLEX users.
You can expect fewer late-night visits to your drugstore’s “my vagina is on fire” aisle, too. FLEX is hypoallergenic, made without BPA, latex, or phthalates, and doesn’t disrupt the pH of the vagina—AKA it can help prevent yeast infections and bacterial vaginosis. “I haven’t had a single yeast infection,” Schulte notes.
Newsflash: Your period doesn’t have to suck
Because FLEX fits in a totally different area in your body than tampons, it uses your body heat to create a custom fit with fewer leaks—for a solid 12 hours, to boot. And according to cult fans, that form-fit holds up during HIIT workouts, beach trips, and, yes, sex. As for odors, infections, and discomfort? You can say bye to those too, say many reviewers.
“FLEX is disposable, which means that it can be changed at work, while you’re traveling, or on-the-go, because there’s no rinsing required,” Jensen notes, adding that the average person uses only eight per cycle. “Most of our customers were previously using 20 plastic applicator tampons each month, so FLEX helps them reduce 60 percent [of that] waste.”
The Flex Company’s ultimate goal? Making your period feel like just any day—and according to reviews, the women-led team is well on its way. “Our hope is that in ten years, […] your period week will be just as awesome as every other week,” says Schulte. “That all people will be educated about women’s health. And that more companies will invest in innovation for women’s health.” Preach.
Ready to make the switch? The Flex Company is offering Well+Good readers a three-month trial of FLEX for only $15 plus free shipping now!
Top photo: The Flex Company