Tampons are one of those taboo subjects that a lot of women just don’t like talking about. For some, even speaking with a doctor might feel a little awkward, and chatting with friends about tampons just doesn’t seem to happen all that much. Really, tampons and periods are normal, everyday things, and talking about them and understanding how they work shouldn’t be an embarrassing subject. But, we all know that it’s still sometimes a little bit uncomfortable to speak freely about tampons. If you have some burning questions but are too afraid to ask, here are some common questions and answers that will help you understand your feminine hygiene products so you can feel more comfortable during your period.
1. Are there risks to using tampons?
There are all kinds of rumors out there about products we use every day, from the food we eat to our skincare products, and tampons are no exception. You may hear someone say they don’t like to use tampons because they’re worried about chemicals or bleaching products that may be used in manufacturing. However, there hasn’t been any proven need to worry. The biggest risk associated with tampons is Toxic Shock Syndrome, which is preventable with proper usage and by reading the warning labels on your tampon box.
2. What is Toxic Shock Syndrome and how can I prevent it?
Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS) is a bacterial infection that comes as a risk of using tampons improperly. It is important to change your tampons frequently (usually every four hours), because leaving them inside you for too long increases the risk of contracting TSS. You can also help prevent Toxic Shock Syndrome by using the minimum absorbency tampon that will work for you. Lots of women will opt for the largest sizes, like Super Plus, thinking it’s the best way to make sure you don’t have any leaks, when really they could use a lower absorbency tampon with no issues. Symptoms of TSS include fever, dizziness, rash, and fainting, and if you suspect you might have developed Toxic Shock Syndrome, contact your doctor or seek out emergency medical treatment right away. TSS is relatively rare, and the best way to prevent it is to make sure you understand your tampons, select the lowest absorbency that will work for you, and change them frequently.
3. Is it possible for a tampon to get lost inside of me?
Yes, it is possible for a tampon to get “lost” inside of your vagina. However, it’s technically not “lost,” because you know it’s somewhere in your vagina. It’s not possible for a tampon to get pushed up into your cervix as the opening of your cervix is too small for a tampon to be pushed inside. When tampons are lost inside of you, it’s most likely because the string isn’t hanging down as it should be. Using your fingers, you should be able to reach inside of yourself and grab it, pulling it out without tugging on the string like you normally would. It’s possible that it’s a little more complicated than that, however, and you might have accidentally inserted a new tampon before removing your old one, which makes it more difficult to retrieve. It happens, and your doctor will be able to remove it for you if you aren’t able to do it yourself. If you’re concerned you have a tampon lost inside of you, first try to find it and pull it out yourself. If it’s too difficult, call your doctor, and they will be able to help you. It’s nothing to be concerned about, but you should have it taken care of as soon as possible to prevent your risk of TSS.
4. Why are tampons sometimes difficult to insert?
If you aren’t used to using tampons, it can take a while to get the hang of the proper way to insert them into your vagina. For younger women and those who typically use other feminine hygiene products, like pads, tampons can seem a little tricky. It’s important to make sure you’ve got the correct angle as you’re pushing them in. You shouldn’t feel your tampon after you’ve finished inserting it, so if you feel discomfort, take it out and try again with a new one. Every box of tampons comes with a guide that will help you figure out the best way to insert them. Another reason why tampons might be difficult to put in is that you are using the wrong size or absorbency. If you are new to tampons or if your menstrual flow is typically light, try using smaller tampons, which, depending on the brand you use, may be called “mini” or “slim” or “junior.” Your doctor will be able to help you if you just can’t get the hang of it. You aren’t alone if you can’t get tampons to work for you, but with a little practice, you’ll be a pro in no time.
5. How can I figure out what kind of tampons are the best for me?
There are a lot of different products out there for our periods, so sometimes it can be a little confusing when you’re trying to figure out what your best options are. For tampons, there are three main kinds that you can find on your supermarket shelves: plastic, cardboard, and non-applicator. Plastic and cardboard refer to the type of applicator that pushes the cotton tampon into your vagina. Both are pretty popular, and most women choose between them based on personal preference. Some women say plastic applicator tampons are easier and more comfortable to insert because the plastic “slides” better than cardboard. Non-applicator tampons are just that: tampons you insert with your fingers instead of an applicator. Some women don’t like these as much because they don’t feel as comfortable inserting a tampon without an applicator to guide them. The only way to figure out what works best for you is to try them out for a few days and see which one makes your life a little bit easier.