What is a Tampon ?
A tampon is a cylindrical, absorbent and soft period product that is designed to absorb period blood from the body before it can exit the body.
What are they made of?
Usually, tampons are made of rayon or a blend of cotton and rayon coupled with some synthetic fibres. But sometimes, they are made of pure cotton, the best quality ones being made of 100% organic cotton like the Carmesi Tampons.
What is a tampon used for ?
Tampons are generally used as a menstrual hygiene product designed to absorb the flow of period blood when inserted inside the vagina.
However, they are sometimes used for hemostasis (a process to prevent and stop bleeding) during surgery.
How to use a tampon?
Tampons can be tricky to work around in the beginning, especially if you have no experience inserting anything inside the vagina, but it can soon be mastered by following the steps below:
- Figure out the right size - Usually, tampons come in different sizes, to be used according to your flow. They can be:
- Slim or Light - for light flow
- Regular - for moderate flow
- Super - for heavy flow
- Super Plus - for extremely heavy bleeding
If you have to change a tampon every few hours, then the size is inappropriate for the flow. Different days usually require different sizes.
- Wash your hands - Always remember to wash your hands with soap and water before touching a tampon as unwashed hands may introduce germs to your vagina, causing infections.
- Get into a comfortable position - The best position found for insertion is squatting on the ground. This gives the widest exposure and the easiest insertion. Other positions can be standing with one foot on the toilet or simply sitting on the toilet seat.
Insert it - For tampons with applicators, simply pull out the inner layer of the applicator till it clicks into place. Push the tampon up till the first indent on the applicator. Once done, push the outer sticking end inside the vagina like a syringe till you hit the lips. This places the tampon inside. Then, remove the applicator. For tampons without applicators, simply pull the string till a slightly wider and hollow base is formed. Sticking the index finger inside the base, push the tampon up with your thumb and middle finger till it’s all the way inside your vagina. Letting the string hang, remove your index finger.
Is an applicator necessary?
It is absolutely not essential to have an applicator with tampons. They can be used just as easily without applicators. After a few cycles, a person is usually able to master the trick of easy insertion.
Do you need to use lubrication?
It is definitely not a must to use lubrication during tampon insertion. However, young girls just beginning their period or people who have no experience inserting anything inside the vagina may find it a little painful to insert without lubrication.
Though water is usually good enough for insertion, if you find yourself in more than bearable pain during tampon insertion, you may consider using a lubricant.
How do you know if they are inserted correctly?
Upon correct insertion, a tampon should not be felt at all except for the part of the string that sticks out. If you can feel your tampon inside, you have not inserted it correctly. You should push it up further in that case.
How to remove a tampon?
Similar to insertion, there are a couple of steps that need to be followed for the proper and safe removal of a tampon. They go as follows:
- Find a comfortable position - This is the same as inserting a tampon. Either squat down or put one leg up on the toilet for the best positions for removal.
Use the string - Gently tug at the string without applying any abrupt pressure till the tampon slides all the way down. Then, pull it out completely.
How do you safely dispose of them?
It is very important to safely dispose of any menstrual product. Tampons should never be thrown directly into the bin or flushed down the toilet. The first method can spread infections and the second method is a great hack to quickly clog a toilet.
The correct procedure is to wrap the tampon in a piece of paper or put it in a disposable bag and then throw it into a bin. A pure cotton tampon is biodegradable, so it does not harm the environment as such.
How often should you change them?
For best results and to avoid any unwarranted infections, you should change a tampon every 4-6 hours. In the case of heavy flows, when you’re not using the tampon with adequate absorbency designed for that flow, you may have to change it more often.
It is very important to avoid keeping a tampon inside for more than 8 hours in order to avoid Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS). It is rare but potentially life-threatening.
Tampons vs Pads vs Menstrual Cups
The differences lie in a variety of areas. The main ones are listed below:
- Insertion - Both tampons and menstrual cups have to be inserted into the vagina to be used. However, tampons are thinner than menstrual cups, so if one has no experience inserting anything inside the vagina, they may find tampons easier to insert than cups. Pads, on the other hand, do not need to be inserted. They are simply stuck to the gusset of a panty where it absorbs the flow.
- Wear Duration - Tampons should be changed every 4-6 hours and never kept for longer than 8 hours. Pads, although, best changed every 4-6 hours, can be worn safely for a longer duration. Menstrual cups can be worn for the longest and can be emptied and re-inserted every 8-12 hours.
- Absorbency - Tampons and pads both come in various absorbency options, however, a pad can be worn safely for more hours than a tampon in general. Menstrual cups do not have any absorbency property. They are made of non-absorbent, non-reactive silicone and they work by collecting the blood flow inside them.
- Cost - Pads are more economical than tampons as they are less expensive and do not require as much size variation as tampons. Also, since they can be worn for longer, fewer pads are required, making them more cost-effective. A menstrual cup is the most economical in this manner as it’s reusable for up to 10 years without incurring any additional recurrent cost.
- Activities - Most activities can be performed wearing all three options. However, for sports like swimming, tampons and cups are the only alternatives. High movement activities like yoga can make a menstrual cup move around inside and make it leak, the chances of which are lower in tampons and pads, but pads can make these activities uncomfortable due to friction and constant shifting around.
Ease of Use - Pads are the easiest to use and can be learnt without much training. Tampons can get a little getting used to, coupled with the taboo of inserting products inside the vagina in cultures like India. Menstrual cups take some getting used to, both in terms of usage and taboo, but once mastered, they can be very comfortable to use.
Are there any risks associated with tampon usage?
Tampons are generally safe to use, however, some materials like Rayon or synthetic ones can cause irritation inside the vagina. To avoid this, use 100% organic cotton tampons like the Carmesi ones, which do not irritate the skin. Apart from this, tampons leave behind small fibre particles inside the vagina which may irritate the area later on.
What is the Relationship between Tampons and Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS)?
Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS) is caused by a bacterial infection from either Staphylococcus aureus or Streptococcus pyogenes bacteria. They are usually found on the surface of the skin to protect it from other infections. But, if they enter the bloodstream, a life-threatening TSS can result.
Even though it’s rare, it can result from leaving a tampon in for too long (more than 8 hours) or using high absorbency tampons. In worst cases, it can result in death.
Common Tampon Myths
Tampons are shrouded in a variety of myths that should be busted at all costs. Some of these are:
- Tampons will make you lose your virginity
Tampons or, as a matter of fact, the hymen tearing has nothing to do with virginity. In fact, virginity is a more psychological concept than a physical one, and it can mean very different things for different people. But it always has to do with sexual activities with a partner. A tampon going inside a vagina can never make you lose your virginity.
- You will always get TSS if you sleep in your tampon
The fact has more to do with leaving a tampon in for longer than 8 hours than actually sleeping in one. And even then, it does not guarantee that you will always end up with TSS. It is a general risk that is best avoided by not leaving one in for more than 8 hours, but in no way does it mean that you will always end up with TSS.
- They can get lost inside of you
First off, the vaginal canal on average is 3 to 5 inches long. And secondly, there is no connection between the vagina and the abdominal cavity. It is impossible to lose anything inside the vagina, even if the string may be completely swallowed inside, causing you to feel you have lost the entire tampon.
- You need to take the tampon out to pee
The vagina and the urethra (the cavity through which pee comes out) have two separate openings in the female body. So, there is no need to take a tampon out in order to pee.
- Tampons can increase the risk of endometriosis
There is a common belief that tampons can block the cervix, causing the blood to flow back and out of the fallopian tubes, causing a risk of endometriosis. But, along with this being completely impossible, tampons also do not have anything to do with the growth of the uterine lining.
- Tampons stretch out your vagina
A vagina is extremely elastic and bounces back to its original shape very quickly. A tampon is of an extremely insignificant size and can in no way cause the vagina to stretch out.