The Tampon Alternative Transforming the Way We Think and Talk About Periods

Welcome to The V, our weeklong series devoted to all things sex and reproductive health. This is a safe space free from "taboos," because there's no reason anyone should feel awkward talking about their bodies. That said, we'll be clearing up any misinformation on the subject, starting with this huge misnomer: The "V" in this case doesn't refer to he vagina, but he vulva, which is the anatomically correct term for external female genitalia (including the opening of he vagina). Stay tuned all week for need-to-know guides on birth control, tips for taking your orgasm to he next level, real-life stories about endometriosis, and everything in between.

Menstruation—a normal biological process experienced by approximately half the world's population—is still considered a taboo. This stigmatization silences the conversation around periods and limits our understanding of them, keeping both individuals with periods—and the marketplace serving them—behind. Not satisfied with the period products on the market and desiring to change the conversation around menstruation, two women decided to develop something new. Founder and CEO Lauren Schulte and Co-Founder and Head of Growth Erika Jensen developed Flex, a new brand disrupting the menstruation industry and changing the way we talk about periods.

Schulte never had the intention of becoming the founder of a company. But after 15 years of suffering from yeast infections after every period because of the tampons she was using, she decided to take matters into her own hands. With a nurse practitioner who refused to continue writing her prescriptions for yeast infections until she quit tampons and the only viable alternative at the time being the little-known menstrual cup (it was 2011), Schulte began looking into the marketplace and tried over 15 products looking for the right fit.

Both the applicator tampon and the menstrual cup were invented in the 1930s—so why are we still being sold products that were invented almost a century ago and have hardly updated since? This was a question Schulte sought to correct. Working in tech in San Francisco, Schulte saw how much investors were putting money into things that weren't even problems while women's health was getting left behind. She researched the space for about a year and got the courage to found the company.