The Flex Company, the makers of a disc-shaped tampon alternative, has raised $1 million from Y Combinator, Amplify.LA and several others and acquired menstrual disc competitor Softcup for an undisclosed amount.
Flex now owns all of the market’s menstrual disc products, which the company says are ultimately easier to use than tampons and menstrual cups. The discs, which have not been linked to toxic shock syndrome, are hypoallergenic, latex-free and disposable. And, unlike tampons and menstrual cups, you’re able to leave them in during sex. That’s because it sits right below your cervix, while tampons and menstrual cups are worn in the vaginal canal.
I stopped using tampons about a year ago when my girlfriend told me about the Diva Cup, a reusable menstrual cup that is latex-free and plastic-free. That said, sustainability and overall cost savings are two big reasons why I use the Diva Cup. Flex is about $20 per cycle — depending on if you buy one box at a time versus subscribe, and how long and heavy your periods generally are. If you subscribe to a quarterly box, it’ll cost you $15 a month. Diva Cups cost about $40 and it’s recommended that you replace it at least once a year.
The two main benefits of using menstrual discs are that you don’t have to take them out before sex and you’re not at risk of TSS. Now, there is absolutely (obviously) nothing wrong with having sex while you’re on your period, but for those who would rather not interact too closely with blood, I can see why they would want to use menstrual discs. Fun fact: 20% of Flex customers are men. Regarding TSS, although it can be life-threatening, it’s really rare, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. And in the event that you do get it, there may be a TSS vaccine available in the nearish future. This is all to say that there’s still no ideal method for dealing with periods. So, to each their own.
Since launching, Flex has become FDA-compliant and has an annual run rate in the multi-millions, according to founder and CEO Lauren Schulte.
“Advancements in medical-grade materials that are used inside of the body have finally made a product like FLEX possible,” Schulte said. “What’s equally important — women are demanding better products. And investors are waking up to the fact that women’s health is not a niche market.”