Are you a tampon user? Say ✌🏼to extra cramp pain. •
Want a more comfortable period? Find your match. •

What are period cramps?

People often combine period pain and premenstrual syndrome (PMS), but the two aren’t actually the same—PMS can cause symptoms like bloating, irritability, and fatigue, but those usually fade when menstruation begins. Pain or discomfort during your period, like menstrual cramps, is classified as dysmenorrhea. It’s another way of saying “painful periods.”

Menstrual cramps 101

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What causes period cramps?

Now you know cramps result from your muscles contracting, but what makes them “cramp”?

The process starts with prostaglandins. A group of hormone-like compounds produced in the uterine lining, they trigger muscle cramps (and not just in the uterus, either). Our prostaglandin levels are often highest early in our menstrual cycles, which is why period cramps tend to worsen the first few days.

Because of this link, the more prostaglandins your body produces, the heavier your bleeding and the severity of cramps will likely be.

What makes period cramps worse?

Nothing causes menstrual cramps other than your body doing its thing, but these may intensify them.

  • Dehydration: Keep a water bottle handy.
  • Your period products: Many of us start to use tampons and never look back... but they may be making your cramps worse (more on that below).
  • Inflammation: Try to eat whole foods and avoid triggers or allergens, like gluten, dairy, or soy.
  • Certain medical conditions: Endometriosis, vaginismus, pelvic inflammatory disease, and vulvodynia can cause severe cramps. If your cramps are debilitating, suddenly increase, or worsen after age 25—contact a healthcare provider ASAP.

To relieve menstrual cramps, try some home remedies like applying heat (heating pad or heating patches) or take Ibuprofen such as, Advil, Naproxen, or Aleve. Acetaminophen (Tylenol) may help, but it’s not as effective relieving pain.

What about tampons and period cramps?

To be clear, we’re not (totally) knocking tampons. They have pros—and some real cons, like the risk for TSS, a tendency to leak, and the potential to make period cramps worse.

Usually made from cotton or a blend of cotton and rayon, tampons are designed to trap and absorb menses within their porous fibers. Tampons expand as they absorb, putting pressure on your vaginal walls. They’re relatively rigid and unable to move with your body when your uterus contracts. Plus, they block the vaginal canal, trapping a little bubble of oxygen internally.

These factors can make your menstrual pain feel worse and for those with medical conditions like vulvodynia or vaginismus, a rigid product that expands isn’t an option.

Why Flex?

At this point you may be asking: What period products are best for cramps? We’d say: Everyone’s vagina is different, but menstrual discs are a better option for those who find that tampons worsen their period pain or who want a more comfortable period.


Menstrual discs: Can they help get rid of period cramps?

Unlike tampons, menstrual discs collect blood instead of absorbing it and they sit in the widest part of the vagina known as the vaginal fornix. The fornix has fewer nerve endings, making it an ultra comfy spot to wear a period product.

Menstrual discs are designed to reduce cramps. In fact, 64% of surveyed Flex Disc users experienced reduced cramps
compared to their previous period product. Flex has designed three
unique discs: Flex Disc, Flex Reusable Disc, and Flex Plant+ Disc.

P.S. Are you unable to use internally-worn products? Pads and period underwear are also great options.


Why everyone is making the switch

Flex Discs are the all-in-one solution for your period—and they are comfortable, too! Over 97% of surveyed users found Flex Disc more comfortable compared to their previous period products.

Our 3 discs: Flex Disc, Flex Reusable Disc, and Flex Plant+ Disc, offer 12-hour leak protection so you can sleep-in, run, travel, swim, squat, even do some aerobic exercises without worry. Plus, they’re designed to reduce cramps, irritation, even odor!

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Frequently Asked Questions