How Cancer Shaped Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Life and Work

The name Ruth Bader Ginsburg became almost synonymous with strength and stamina as she rose to prominence in judicial and feminist circles throughout her long career. Famously nicknamed the Notorious RBG and known for her grueling fitness regimen, the late Supreme Court justice also struggled with cancer and other health issues for the better part of her time on the bench — culminating with her death on Sept. 18 at the age of 87 of complications from metastatic pancreatic cancer.Ginsburg’s health issues became public in 1999, six years after her appointment to the Supreme Court, when she had surgery for early-stage colon cancer. Ten years later, she went through the same process for pancreatic cancer. And nearly a decade after that, the Supreme Court announced that Ginsburg had undergone surgery to have two cancerous growths removed from her left lung. She announced in July 2020 that she’d been treated earlier that year for cancerous lesions on her liver, but made clear her intentions…

I've Used Tampons and Cups - Here's What I Wish I'd Known Before Trying a Menstrual Disc

My period and I go back 30 years, and throughout my journey, I've tried everything from reusable cotton pads to applicator-free tampons to menstrual cups to period undies. For the past year, I've been happily using the cup-undies combo, but then Nixit contacted me about its menstrual disc - I'd never heard of it, so I had to give it a try.

Similar to a diaphragm, a menstrual disc is a soft, flexible silicone disc that's inserted into your vagina. Unlike a cup that sits in the vaginal canal, a menstrual disc gets pushed way up just below the cervix and gets pushed behind your pubic bone to hold it in place.

Menstrual Disc Pros

  • Since a menstrual disc sits higher up toward your cervix, it's supposed to be more comfortable than a menstrual cup or tampon.
  • It doesn't leak.
  • Since the vaginal canal isn't blocked, a disc can be worn while having sex (more on that later).
  • It's reusable (think of the money you'll save not buying disposable menstrual products!).
  • You can wear it while working out, swimming, and using the bathroom.
  • It can be worn up to 12 hours, so you can sleep with it in.
  • It holds four tampons' worth of fluid, so it's good for those with a heavy flow.

Menstrual Disc Cons

  • For $49, this menstrual disc is pricier than a cup (the Saalt brand cup I use costs $29).
  • Removal can be tricky (see tips below).
  • It leaks if the disc gets dislodged from behind the pubic bone, which can happen when you're wearing it during a bowel movement.

How to Use a Menstrual Disc

Insertion: I've used a menstrual disc for two cycles, and every month, it's gotten easier and better. Menstrual disc insertion is similar to that of a cup, but it's easier since you only have to fold it once and the outer ring or lip of the disc is sturdy, so you can push it up to glide it into place. This may take a little practice if you've never used a tampon or cup, and the folks at Nixit even recommended that I try it before my cycle to get used to it.

Check it: FYI: you have to stick your finger way up inside your vagina, so you've got to come to terms with being OK with that. Once inserted properly, the disc felt comfortable and stayed in place all day, and I didn't notice it at all, even while working out. You may want to periodically check the disc to make sure it's still tucked behind your pubic bone, because one time, I had a laughing fit with my kids, and apparently my disc slipped out of place slightly, and I ended up leaking a little.

Removal: Removal is definitely harder than when using a tampon or disc because there's no tab or string to pull on. Once again, you have to stick your finger way up inside, and although the disc isn't supposed to create any suction, I found it hard to untuck the rim of the disc from behind my pubic bone. I'm not gonna lie - panic set in as I pictured myself at the ER explaining that I got a menstrual disc stuck inside me. Then I took a deep breath since relaxing the muscles is key, I pushed like I was bearing down to poop, and I was able to remove it. Phew!

It can get a little messy: I should have known that trying to remove it for the first time while standing over my white bathmat wasn't a smart move, but I guess you learn from your mistakes on your menstrual journey - so learn from mine and save your rugs! I just assumed it'd be like a menstrual cup where the fluid would remain inside until I dumped it out, but I was wrong.

I haven't been able to remove the disc yet without getting blood on my hand, so you definitely want to do it over a toilet with a sink nearby or in the shower. And actually, when I mentioned my fiasco to the Nixit PR person, she sent me this tip: "Nixit is self-emptying - bear down to dump the contents into the toilet first, and then remove cleanly." That was a huge help!

My two cents about sex: Although I know it's OK to have sex while wearing a menstrual disc, I think it all depends on your personal preference. Some people don't want to even think about intimacy during their menstrual cycle, so do what works for you. It also depends on your anatomy because if you have a short vaginal canal and your cervix is low (raises hand), then your partner may be able to feel it, but it's worth trying if you're up for the adventure!

Final Thoughts About Using Menstrual Discs

I'm excited to use my menstrual disc for the third time, as I feel like it's getting easier to use now that I have a little experience. I love how easy it is to insert and that I can't even feel it, it doesn't make me crampy, and it doesn't leak. I love that it's reusable, it's easy to wash and care for, and I'm protected for up to 12 hours straight. All menstrual products take practice, so I feel like within a few months, this disc and I will be completely synced.



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