SoftDisc®, also known as SoftCup and similar to FLEX (more on this below), is a disposable menstrual disc that holds the equivalent of five regular (or three super) tampons worth of fluid. It can be used for up to 12 hours, and is a soft, fully collapsible round disc with a thin membrane center and flexible outer rim.
SoftDisc® / SoftCup / FLEX
Highlights: Made without BPA, phthalates, or latex. Can be used for up to 12 hours. Excellent for people with heavy flow.
SoftDisc® / SoftCup / FLEX at a glance:
|Country of Origin:||Not disclosed|
|Materials:||Medical grade polymer (not fully disclosed)|
As such, it is perhaps a little less intimidating than a silicone menstrual cup, and more convenient and eco-friendly that some disposable tampons because it cuts down on waste and you don’t have to change it as often. It’s other key advantage is that it sits higher in the vagina than a menstrual cup or tampon, meaning that it doesn’t need removing before penetrative sex.
SoftCup/Disc is excellent for people with heavy flow due to conditions such endometriosis, PCOS, and so forth, and can also help reduce the risk of TSS. Because it collects rather than absorbs fluid, SoftCup helps minimize odor, leaks, irritation and dryness. It is made of a medical grade polymer similar to that used in baby bottle nipples and menstrual cups themselves, and is made without BPA, phthalates, or latex. As it is disposable, it’s clearly not as eco-friendly as reusable period products made with organic cotton or silicone, but is seemingly free from toxic chemicals found in conventional disposable tampons and pads.
SoftCup/Disc is FDA-approved and an excellent way to test how a menstrual cup might fit and feel before committing to buying a reusable cup. (Some people refer to these as ‘training cups’.) That said, if you’re used to a menstrual cup, SoftCup/Disc can feel a little strange to insert and remove. This is because the menstrual disc is circular in shape and sits higher in the vagina, at an angle. Inserting it lower in the vagina, where a menstrual cup or tampon would sit, means that the disc won’t work properly and will leak. And, as there’s no applicator system or stem to grab hold of, you have to be comfortable retrieving the disc from this higher position. Some people find it best to do this while in the shower.
Menstrual discs were first introduced in the 1990s, and were marketed as ‘Instead’ by EvoFem, an independent company focused on over-the-counter women’s reproductive health products. The product was rebranded as Instead SoftCup in 2011, with the product updated with a different sized rim for a better fit. Sales were poor for many years, so Evofem reached a decision to discontinue SoftCup around 2015/16. The Flex Company then purchased the right to sell the discs, rebranded to simply SoftCup, and launched the product on Amazon and elsewhere in 2017. The product then changed to SoftDisc in April 2018 to differentiate it from reusable menstrual cups. Now available in Target stores, SoftDisc offers a reasonable alternative to disposable tampons and is a great option for cup users concerned about hygiene while traveling.
The Flex Company also makes FLEX, another type of menstrual disc made from newer materials that the company claims warm up with body heat to create a leakproof seal. FLEX is made of a medical-grade polymer blend, such as is used in baby bottle nipples and surgical tools. It is hypoallergenic and made without natural rubber latex or silicone. FLEX disposable menstrual discs are only available directly from The Flex Company (including on a subscription plan, for convenience), while SoftDisc is more widely available (but without a subscription option).
SoftDisc vs. FLEX
There are currently no competitors for SoftDisc, aside from FLEX, both of which are made by the same company. FLEX is only available directly through The Flex Company, who also make a reusable menstrual cup, while SoftDisc/SoftCup disposables are available online, at Target, and likely at other stores as the company expands distribution. As noted, because these are disposable, they’re not really environmentally friendly, but they may have a lower environmental impact than conventional disposable tampons, especially those with plastic applicators.