Hygienic pads: everything you need to know to use them properly!

If you're having your period 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 are tampons?

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 it, allowing you to carry on with your activities (especially water activities) while you're having your period. It is inserted inside the vagina, where it absorbs the menstrual flow. Contrary to popular belief, it can be used at any age. In the case of 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 tampons with and without applicators?

Sometimes, it's the act of inserting a tampon that can be frightening: young girls in particular aren't sure how to 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.
  • Without an applicator, tampons are just wrapped in a plastic film, which must of course be removed before insertion. Then, just push it in directly with your finger.

Some women are more comfortable with an applicator, others without: it's up to each woman to find what suits her best!

How do I choose my sanitary tampon?

There are several types to suit a maximum number of women and varying flow needs.

Adapting the size to your menstrual flow

Tampon size corresponds to theamount of menstrual flow during the period and to the tampon's absorption capacity. There are several sizes available on the market:

  • Mini, suitable for light flows and the beginning or end of periods
  • Normal, suitable for medium flows
  • Plus or super (depending on the 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, you increase the risk of toxic shock syndrome. Those with a very high absorption capacity should only be used on days when periods are particularly heavy.

Look at the tampon's composition

Vaginal mucous membranes are highly permeable to external substances, so you need to make sure you're not introducing anything harmful to your body.

First of all, you need to 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 fleece, which covers 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.
  • Then there's the removal cord. It can be made of cardboard or polyethylene paper.
  • Depending on the type chosen: the polyester, polypropylene or cottonapplicator.

Finally, some brands add chemical substances such as perfumes, toxic products and odor neutralizers - don't use them!

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 do I use a tampon correctly?

In reality, inserting this type of sanitary protection is a simple matter. 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, first 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 labia to position it at the vaginal opening, pushing it in.
  • When you can no longer feel it, it's securely in place. The cord should hang outwards. 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:

  • Hold the pad at the point where the applicator crosses 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 tampon is outside the applicator.
  • It's in place, check that the cord hangs outside your labia
  • Wash your hands

Removing the tampon correctly

Removing the tampon is even easier than inserting it! This protection is generally removed after 4 hours. It's better to remove it too early than too late, to avoid infection, bacterial proliferation and 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, and 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 string, squat down and insert your index finger into the vagina to find it. Although rare, it can happen that the string 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 tampon?

Depending on your flow, it reaches its maximum absorption capacity in a few hours. This type of protection should be changed every 3 to 4 hours. You shouldn't wear it 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 men struation, as outside this period it will unbalance the vaginal flora, causing infections, recurrent mycosis and vaginal dryness. If you experience excessive vaginal discharge or spotting, you can use organic cotton panty liners or menstrual panties.

Of course, these are for single use only!

What to do if you forget a tampon in your vagina?

If you forget to put a tampon in your vagina, you run the 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?

While tampons have their advantages in terms of practicality, they also have their 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 menstrual panties.

At Elia, it's the menstrual panties which is our preferred alternative: zero waste, zero risk to your health and very comfortable protection during your period! Thanks to their technical features and natural antibacterial materials, they prevent bacteria from developing and proliferating: no infections! There are several to choose from, for all types of flow, even the heaviest. What are you waiting for to switch to menstrual panties?

Tampon FAQ

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 during your period, and only facilitate the flow when you decide to do so! This is called free instinctive flow or the free flow instinct method.

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