The Nixit Menstrual Cup review: The only menstrual disc that’s actually worked for me | CNN Underscored
Periods are stressful — from worrying about leaks and stains to dealing with cramps, there’s a lot to manage. Nixit makes it easier with its reusable menstrual cup (technically a menstrual disc, but I’ll get into that later), which provides a one-size-fits-all solution to keeping periods in check. Gone are the days of slipping a tampon up your sleeve and making a discreet run for the bathroom!
“We’re nixing the shame surrounding menstruation,” says the company’s founder, Rachael Newton. “Historically, people have been discouraged from knowing too much about the way menstruating bodies work, look or feel. We’re often handed traditional period products to use without understanding what they’re made of or that there are alternative options. Questioning these things, especially in public, was considered a big no-no. We’re tearing down the taboo one day at a time and empowering those who bleed to become more educated and informed about their periods.”
The Nixit menstrual disc has transformed my period care. The reusable product is less wasteful and costly than pads and tampons, and once you get around the learning curve, you can pretty much set it and forget it for the whole day.
While Nixit labels itself as a menstrual cup, it is actually a menstrual disc-style product. While both categories catch period blood rather than absorbing it like a pad or tampon, menstrual discs do not use suction to help them stay in place. Menstrual discs come in disposable and reusable models, and the reusable versions will typically be made of out flexible, medical-grade silicone, like the Nixit.
“Menstrual discs are placed higher up into the vaginal fornix, pushed behind your pubic bone and sit below the cervix to catch menstrual blood,” says Emory Ship, Tia’s Soho medical director and certified nurse midwife and women’s health nurse practitioner. Because of where they sit, menstrual discs have a wide, bowl shape, compared to the narrower bell shape of menstrual cups. “This design eliminates the need for different sizes and allows the cup to be wider to hold more flow,” Newton explains.
“Many users who have struggled to get menstrual cups to work find a menstrual disc less ‘finicky’ in both fit, leaks and ease of use,” shares Kim Rosas, founder of Period.Shop and Period Nirvana. They’re also a great alternative for those who have IUDs, as menstrual cup use has been linked to IUD expulsion.
It’s likely you’ll want to try both a menstrual disc and menstrual cup to find out which is the best fit, however, there are some straightforward benefits to consider when choosing your product. Ship says the below factors can help determine whether you want to go for the menstrual disc:
- Menstrual discs have a larger capacity for fluid. Those who have very heavy menstrual flows may benefit from this extra capacity.
- Menstrual discs are kept in place by propping against the pubic bone and do not rely on vaginal tone to keep them in place. This is a benefit for those with a weakened pelvic floor/poor vaginal muscle tone.
- If you have a cervix that sits low in your vaginal canal, a disc is often a better option. Cups are often too long and cause discomfort whereas a disc is shallower and doesn’t have a stem.
- Another perk of a menstrual disc is that it can be kept in place (and prevent a mess) during vaginal play/penetration. Due to the placement of a menstrual cup, a cup would need to be removed prior to [sex].
The Nixit is the most user-friendly menstrual disc that I’ve tried. Its soft silicone makes it easy to pinch for insertion and ensures that you won’t feel it when it’s in place. While it came with a multi-cycle learning curve, the brand is transparent about that from the start and provides a bunch of resources, including one-on-one support, to help users get the hang of it. “Because Nixit is such a personal product, we like to offer personal support,” Newton says. “We have a dedicated team of real people to offer guidance and alternative tips and tricks to help people feel comfortable and confident.”
As expected, there was some trial-and-error with placement the first time I used the disc and it ended up slipping out of place. Thankfully, I was working from home and was wearing period underwear as a backup, as the brand suggests doing the first couple cycles. While you can’t feel the disc when it’s correctly positioned, you will be able to feel it if it moves out of place (which I’m actually grateful for, since it helps you know when there could be leakage). Using a menstrual disc requires you to be more hands-on with your body than pads or tampons, but I believe getting familiar with your anatomy and flow is a benefit in the long run.
Upon my second try that first cycle, I successfully got the Nixit in place — and that’s honestly what gave me the vote of confidence to continue using it the next month, too. Once I had it properly positioned, there were no leaks and I only had to empty it twice a day (once every 12 hours, as recommended). It was freeing to not have to worry about changing a pad or tampon every few hours.
I had to make similar adjustments the second month, but started feeling more secure. The “bear down” method was also surprisingly easy to get the hang of, allowing me to empty the disc without removing it completely. This is especially helpful if you’re using a public restroom (or like me recently, an airplane bathroom).
The third month, I decided to insert it the night before my period started. This helped greatly with getting the position just right without a mess. Then, when my period began, it was already in place and I didn’t have to worry about removing it until the end of the day.
Now four months in, I feel well acquainted with the Nixit and can’t imagine going back to single-use period products. As Newton shares, tampon users will dispose of 11,000 tampons in their lifetimes (each of them taking 500 years to degrade) — being able to remove myself from that cycle of waste feels like I’m making a difference, even if it’s a small one.
While I usually wear period underwear overnight and on my heaviest days, that’s mostly for peace of mind than actual necessity. I’ve done yoga with the Nixit, swam with it, run with it, and haven’t had an issue. Plus, I’ve found that the usual cramps and discomfort I’d feel with tampons are a thing of the past.
Any dislikes I’ve had with the Nixit have been general critiques about menstrual discs as a category, rather than struggles with the specific product. Because of how discs sit wedged under and behind the cervix and up and behind the pubic bone, you have to get familiar with what these parts of your body feel like. There can be some frustration when you don’t get the placement right the first time (or second, or third), but practicing when you’re not on your period can take away some of the pressure.
Moreover, discs tend to be messier to remove than menstrual cups. When you’re starting out, you may want to limit your bathroom trips to at home only. And even when you do get the hang of it, there may be a chance that you’ll have to remove/empty it in a public restroom, where it can be uncomfortable to rinse it out in a shared sink. Getting caught in this position is tricky, and my best advice is to simply wipe the disc with toilet paper or a wet wipe and re-insert it. When you’re home, you can properly rinse it clean. And speaking of cleaning, I’ve noticed some light staining on my Nixit, even after boiling it to sanitize it in between cycles.
Throughout this review, I’ve noted some key differences between menstrual discs and menstrual cups, but how does the Nixit measure up to other menstrual discs? In shape and size, it’s pretty similar compared to other reusable options like the Flex Reusable Disc or Saalt Menstrual Disc. I’ve found the Nixit to have the most flexible silicone rim, which made the fit easier and more comfortable for me. Some may prefer a thicker, firmer rim for placement, but I personally found those create the feeling of the disc “pushing back” from the inside. While this isn’t as noticeable with reusable menstrual discs made from silicone, there was a huge difference when I tried the Softdisc disposable menstrual discs. They are made out of a firmer medical-grade polymer, which I could constantly feel even when tucked behind my pubic bone and which were prone to slipping.
Price-wise, Nixit is a tad more expensive than the aforementioned Flex Reusable Disc ($35) and Saalt Menstrual Disc ($33), but they’ll all save you money in the long run. Doing without the monthly cost of tampons and pads keeps more cash in your pocket as soon as the second cycle.
If you’re open to the learning curve and getting to know your body more personally, menstrual discs are well worth making the switch from single-use period products — and the Nixit is a great place to start. It’s flexible, easy to insert, stays in place and makes periods less stressful. Allowing for more active, leak-free cycles, the Nixit is a liberating period product.