Whether you’re new to tampons or you’ve been using them longer than these youngins have been alive, menstrual health products have drastically changed over the years, and mostly in a positive direction! Why? How? Transparency and options.
We all remember our first period. Maybe you had a family member or friend to help you through the situation, or perhaps some of you were clueless or even ashamed as to what to do next. We are here to help. By writing this article, we are not endorsing any form of feminine hygiene product but rather providing some tips for the most common and widely accepted form, the tampon. Please know that tampons, pads, cups, and period underwear are all available options, and it is a personal preference. Some work better than others in a particular situation, so be responsible yet adventurous.
Tampon 101, for my first-time users (veterans skip ahead):
- Go pee or poop before inserting in your tampon; trust me on this. If your tampon has an applicator, make sure the plunger is down all the way to lengthen the tampon applicator.
- With clean hands, move your labia (aka- vaginal lips) out of the way and insert the tampon with an applicator into your vagina.
- Insert the tampon far enough (don’t worry, the vagina is like an enclosed cave, the tampon will not be floating around your body).
- When you can barely or no longer feel the applicator’s far end, you are in the correct location. Push the plunger in, and gently remove the applicator; the tampon should remain in place. If you’ve inserted it correctly, a small sting will stick out, and the inserted tampon should not be painful. You want the string to stay on the outside of your body; this allows for easier removal.
- Wrap up the applicator, and throw it in the trash, do not try to flush it.
- To remove your used tampon, pull the string, wrap your used tampon, and place it in the trash (tampons are known to clog pipes, and we don’t want you to get in trouble). Repeat as necessary with a new tampon.
- Now that everyone is on the same page. Below are your do’s and don’ts for tampons. Keep in mind that these are simply suggestions; take them as you wish.
- Do: Wash your hands before and after inserting a tampon.
- Do: get quality tampons if economically possible. If you can find and afford organic tampons or more natural tampons, great! Natural or organic options are better. Try to avoid tampons with chemicals or scents.
- Do: change your tampon after you swim in any type of water. You do not want your tampon string to soak itself in chlorine water, saltwater, or freshwater. The bacterial options are endless, so you are done with that tampon when you are done in the water.
- Do: try to relax when inserting a tampon; if you’re tensing up, you could bring yourself discomfort.
- Do not leave it in too long. Although rare, tampons can cause something called toxic shock syndrome (TSS), which is essentially a bacterial build-up in a tampon that your body must try to fight off. For this reason, most doctors agree that you should change your tampon every four to six hours. At the same time…
- Don’t change your tampon out if it is still dry. This can cause pain, friction, and discomfort. Making your period even more uncomfortable is always a bad idea.
- Don’t use expired tampons. Yup, we’re talking to you- bathroom hoarder. If you aren’t sure if you bought them in the last 5 years, throw them out! This is because tampons were created to hold moisture; moisture over the years creates mold, you get the picture. If you can sing the lyrics to “The Facts of Life,” “Saved by the Bell,” or “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” chances are you need to deep clean your tampon stash.
- Don’t use an open or ugly-looking tampon. We’ve all been there, the tampon at the bottom of your purse that you feel guilty for even using because it’s been through enough already. If it is open, broken, or jaded, just get yourself a new one.