Tampons are one of those things that seem not so important until you have to use them for the first time. Then you have a million questions, such as how this whole thing is supposed to work and which tampons are best for beginners, if any.
We‘re here to answer some of those questions for you. It‘s always useful to know the pros and cons, especially when you‘ve just started to menstruate and are not so sure which sanitary products to choose.
But actually, how can be anyone so sure that tampons make a good option for teens? Read on to find out the truth about tampons.
The Good Side
Tampons are small cylinders that fit into the vaginal canal. They‘re made of cotton, rayon, or organic cotton. When the material is wet, it compresses and expands. The string is the part that extends outside the vagina to allow removal.
Women who use tampons say that if they are used properly, you can't feel them. Also, tampons can help decrease heavy bleeding accidents, especially if you pair them with a pantyliner.
You may have heard women say that tampons are a good choice because they don't interfere with your clothes like pads sometimes do. Tampons are small enough just to drop into pockets and carry around everywhere.
Yes, you can pee with a tampon inside. And, most important, tampons make it possible for women to play sports and/or even swim during their period.
The Bad Side
But those pros are just about all the good things concerning tampons. Along with health specialists, we must warn you that although tampons might sound like a really comfortable thing, and you don‘t have to learn any skills to use them, they mostly suit everyone...in reality, they make a bad choice for young girls.
We don‘t recommend you use tampons as a regular means to manage periods.
One thing no one talks about is that tampons absorb not just your menstrual flow, but also discharge. That is why, if you use tampons regularly, the vagina gets dry, which can cause infection or irritation – which, in turn, can cause cramps and other unpleasant sensations down there.
So please, don‘t use tampons as your regular period protection. You can only insert them occasionally: when you're working out, and/or you're going to the beach or a pool party. When you go swimming, don‘t forget to change your tampon as soon as you get out of the water. The tampon may become wet with water and may not absorb as much blood from your period as a fresh one.
The How‘s and Why‘s
You can start using tampons as soon as your period starts. The most important thing is how you feel, whether you know your body well, whether you are responsible enough to remember to take the tampon out on time, and whether you feel any psychological discomfort.
Yes, we know, when a teen girl is just getting used to having a period, the idea of putting a tampon inside her body can be scary. So there’s no hard and fast rule about the “right” time to teach you how to put in a tampon correctly for the first time, or who is the best person to do it.
It may take some practice to insert a tampon for the first time. It‘s easier to use the smallest size tampon at first (especially one with a rounded top). Each tampon pack will give you instructions on how to insert the tampon, so if it's your first time, read the instructions.
It is better to use a tampon when you are menstruating heavily, as the tampon sticks more easily. If you have trouble inserting or removing the tampon, talk to your Mom or doctor and tell them what is happening.
Once you get used to the smallest tampon, it's easy to get in and out, and you can try one size bigger. The bigger the tampon, the more it absorbs.
By the way, please, don‘t use any scented tampons. Scents can contain harmful chemicals that can upset the vaginal pH balance, cause allergies or vaginal infections.
The Myth and the Truth
Some people say that young girls should not use tampons just because they will lose their virginity. This is a myth! Tampons can be used by both virgin girls and girls who have already had sex. And although using a tampon can tear a girl's hymen, it does not mean that the girl loses her virginity. Virginity is lost only during sexual intercourse.
What you use during menstruation is your personal choice, although as experts on pads and tampons, we do not recommend using tampons continuously during menstruation. Not because of the risk of tearing the hymen, but because of the health risks involved – keep reading to find them out.
Not a Night With a Tampon in
Tampons should be changed every 4 hours, depending on your flow. Hand washing is required to avoid infection.
Although the adverts say you can sleep with the tampon, never do so: choose the pads for the night. Non-organic tampons can contain chemicals that can easily pass through the vaginal mucosa into the body and can irritate the vagina. So if you still want to use a tampon, go for organic cotton.
A light tug on the tampon string will tell you if your tampon needs to be changed. If it begins to pull out easily, it is time to change. If it doesn't, it usually means you can wait a little longer.
If there are many white, untouched areas on the tampon after 4 hours, try a lower absorbency tampon.
Choose tampons according to your flow: don't use a larger tampon size than you need. A larger tampon is more likely to get caught between the vaginal walls, and may injure the vaginal wall when pulled, and is more likely to cause TSS.
The Health Risk
Never heard of TSS before? Well, TSS (or Toxic Shock Syndrome) is why you shouldn‘t wear tampons every day when menstruating.
Although very rare, tampons are to blame for causing TSS – a very serious and even life-threatening disease! It manifests itself with flu-like symptoms, which can include vomiting, fever, a burning sensation, nausea and shortness of breath.
TSS is caused by toxins released by bacteria called staphylococci and streptococci. In wet and warm areas (such as the vagina or wounds), the bacteria start to multiply and produce toxic substances in large quantities. Bacterial toxins released into the bloodstream trigger an inadequate immune response, and then, TSS can affect the majority of the body's organ systems, including the skin, lungs, liver, kidneys, blood, and pancreas.
Although it is a very rare disease, you must know about it. It is estimated that the highest chance of developing TSS is before the age of 30. So if you ever use tampons, be sure to read the instructions and be aware of any symptoms when wearing a tampon.
That‘s because tampons (especially the super-absorbent ones) that are left in the vagina for long periods of time can encourage bacterial growth. Also, the tampon can stick to the vaginal walls, especially when bleeding is light, causing small abrasions on removal.
So, think twice before you choose to use tampons when you play sports or go swimming. And when you do so, choose organic, non-scented ones of suitable size, don‘t forget to change it and wash your hands when you do.
Have a safe period!