Hygienic pads: everything you need to know to use them properly!
If you're having your periods for the first time, using a tampon for the first time may seem complicated! Don't worry, we've got all the answers on how it works, its advantages and disadvantages, in this dedicated article!
What is a sanitary tampon?
Tampons are a type of internal sanitary protection widely used by women (second only to sanitary towels). Their practicality and discretion have a lot to do with this, allowing you to continue your activities (especially aquatic activities) while you periods. It is inserted inside the vagina, where it absorbs the menstrual flow. Contrary to popular belief, it can be used at any age. In virgin girls, thehymen will not be torn, as the width of the tampon is generally smaller than the opening of the membrane.
What's the difference between pads with and without applicators?
Sometimes, it's the very act of inserting a tampon that can be frightening: young girls in particular are unsure of how sto go about it.
For this reason, there are two types of tampon:
- With applicator, a small plastic device consisting of two tubes that slide against each other to facilitate positioning, allowing the tampon to slide high into the vaginal canal.
- With no applicator, the tampons are just wrapped in a plastic film which, of course, has to be removed before insertion. Then, just push it in directly with your finger.
Some are more comfortable with an applicator, others without: it's up to each individual to find what suits her best!
How to choose your sanitary tampon?
There are several types that s'adapt to a maximum number of women and in response to varying flow requirements.
Adapt the size to your menstrual flow
Tampon size corresponds to theamount of menstrual flow during the periods and to their absorption capacity. There are several sizes available on the market:
- Mini, suitable for light flows, the beginning or end of periods
- Normal, suitable for medium
- Plus or super (names depend on brand, Tampax or other) suitable for medium to heavy flows
- Maxi for very heavy flows
It's important to choose one that matches your flow and its minimum absorption level. If you use a version that is too absorbent for your flow, this increases the risk of toxic shock syndrome. Those with a very high absorption capacity should only be used on days when periods is particularly abundant.
Look at the composition of the pad
Secondly, it is important to look at the composition: in fact, vaginal mucous membranes are very permeable to external substances, so you must smake sure that you are not introducing anything harmful to your body.
First of all, you should know that a tampon is made up of different layers:
- The central part corresponds to the absorbent part, which is composed of cellulose fibers: either viscose or cotton.
- A veil, which is the layer enclosing the absorbent part. This layer is very thin, enabling gentle, painless insertion and removal. It can be made of cellulose fibers or synthetic fibers such as polyester, polyethylene or polypropylene.
- There's also a cord for removal. It is either made of cardboard or polyethylene paper.
- Depending on type: polyester, polypropylene or cottonapplicator
Finally, some brands add chemical substances such as perfumes, toxic products and odour neutralisers, all of which should be avoided!
However, there are tampons that are less harmful to health, such as organic and GOTS-certified tampons. These must be made from natural, organic fibers, throughout the entire production chain.
How to use a tampon correctly
In reality, putting on this type of sanitary protection is a very simple thing, you just need to get the hang of it, even if it may seem complicated the first few times.
Inserting the tampon into the vagina
First and foremost, wash your hands well beforehand and observe proper hygiene. To make insertion painless, you need to relax and get into a position that suits you best, whether squatting or standing with one foot raised on the toilet bowl.
Of course, you first need to remove the packaging and pull the string to unwind it: this will then allow you to be pulled to remove the tampon.
For those without applicators:
- Simply place your fingertip on the base of the tampon, spreading your lips to position it at the vaginal opening and push it in.
- When you can feel it no longer, it's securely in place. The cord should hang outside l. If you feel discomfort in your intimate area, heaviness or tingling, it's a sign that it hasn't been inserted high enough.
- Finally, wash your hands
For those with applicators:
- You must hold the protection at the intersection between the applicator and the absorbent part.
- Insert the applicator into the vagina and push it almost all the way in
- Slide the inner tube against the outer tube so that the pad is outside the lapplicator.
- It's in place, check that the cord hangs outside your lips
- Wash your hands
Remove the pad correctly
Removal is even easier than insertion! This protection is usually removed after 4 hours. It's better to remove it too early than too late, to avoid infection, bacterial proliferation or unpleasant odors.
Wash your hands beforehand, then pull on the string and it will slide off by itself. If removal is painful, this means that your flow is too weak for the chosen level of absorption. The absorbent part remains dry and dries out your vaginal mucosa. In this case, you should use another type of sanitary protection.
If you can't find the rope, squat down and insert your index finger into the vagina to find it. Although rare, it can happen that the cord breaks. In this case, use your fingers to extract it. Don't panic: it's impossible to lose sanitary protection inside your body. The cervix prevents it from going any higher.
After removal, wash your hands.
How long can I keep a sanitary tampon?
Depending on your flow, it reaches its maximum absorption capacity within a few hours. This type of protection should be changed every 3 to 4 hours. It should not be worn for more than 8 hours at a time: stagnant blood in the vaginal canal is a breeding ground for bacteria. And don't wear it at night.
If you use this type of sanitary protection when swimming, change it immediately after getting out of the water. If you do, it will be saturated with chlorine or salt water, which is not good for your vaginal flora.
It's important to use a tampon only during periods, as outside this period, it will unbalance the vaginal flora, causing infections, recurrent mycoses and vaginal dryness. If you experience excessive vaginal discharge or spotting, you can use organic cotton panty liners or menstrual panties.
Of course, it's for single use only!
What to do if you forget a tampon in your vagina?
Lithout a tampon, there's a risk of toxic shock syndrome. This is a very rare but serious and potentially fatal infection caused by certain strains of Staphylococcus aureus. With blood stagnating in the absorbent zone, toxins and bacteria have plenty of opportunity to proliferate. If you've forgotten a tampon and are experiencing symptoms such as fever, headache, malaise, vomiting, diarrhea and a sunburn-like rash, remove it immediately (even if it's not forgotten) or internal sanitary protection and go straight tohospital. The sooner TSS is treated, the better.
What are the best alternatives to tampons?
The tampon certainly has its advantages in terms of practicality, but it also has its disadvantages and varying degrees of danger to health. So what are the alternatives in France?
- If you prefer internal sanitary protection, an alternative is the menstrual cup. The cup is an internal, bell-shaped device that collects blood. But beware: worn for too long, it also carries the risk of TSS, as the blood stagnates.
- External sanitary pads have never been implicated in menstrual TSS, since there is no blood stagnation in the vaginal canal. Examples include disposable or reusable pads, or the period pants.
At Elia, the period pants which is our preferred alternative: zero waste, zero risk to your health and very comfortable protection during your periods! Thanks to its technical features and natural antibacterial materials, it prevents bacteria from developing and proliferating: no infections possible! There are several to choose from, for all types of flow, even the heaviest. So why not switch to period pants ?
Is it okay to use tampons?
To practice free instinctive flow, you first need to listen to your body and its signals, which tell you that blood is flowing from the cervix down the vaginal wall. As soon as this happens, you need to contract your perineum and only release it when it's time to go to the toilet!
Do tampons stop periods ?
It's perfectly possible to voluntarily hold back the flow of blood from your periods, and voluntarily facilitate its flow only when you decide to do so! This is called free instinctive flow or the free flow instinct method.
You may also like :
- Find out all about the history of sanitary protection!
- Free instinctive flow: how to practice it? Methods and tips
- Sanitary towels: everything you need to know to use them properly!
- Menstrual cup: everything you need to know to use it properly!
- Panty liners: everything you need to know to use them properly!
- Menstrual sponge: everything you need to know to use it properly!