If you are having your period for the first time, using a tampon for the first time may seem complicated! Don't worry, we give you all the answers on how it works, advantages and disadvantages in this dedicated article!
What is a tampon?
Tampons are internal sanitary protections, widely used by women (second only to sanitary napkins). Its practicality and discretion are for something there, by making it possible to continue its activities (in particular the water activities) during your period. It is introduced inside the vagina where it will then absorb 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 is the difference between tampons with or without an applicator?
Sometimes it's the placement of a tampon that can be scary: young girls in particular are not sure how to do it.
For this reason, there are two types of use:
- With applicator, this small plastic device made of two tubes that slide against each other, which will facilitate the positioning, allowing the tampon to slide high into the vaginal canal.
- Without an applicator, the tampons are just wrapped in a plastic film that must be removed before insertion. Then you just push it in directly with your finger.
Some are more comfortable with an applicator, others without: it's up to each one to find what suits her best!
How to choose a tampon?
There are several types that can be adapted to a maximum number of women and in response to varying flow needs.
Adapting the size to your menstrual flow
The size of the tampon corresponds to theimportance of the menstrual flow during the period and to their absorption capacity. There are several sizes available on the market:
- Mini, adapted for light flows, the beginning or the end of the period
- Normal, suitable for medium flows
- Plus or super (the names depend on the brand, Tampax or other) suitable for medium to heavy flows
- Maxi for very heavy flows
It is important to choose one that corresponds to your flow and its minimum absorption level. If you use a version that is too absorbent for your flow, it increases 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 composition of the tampon
Next, it is important to look at the composition of the tampon: indeed, the vaginal mucous membranes are very permeable to external substances, so you must make sure that you are not introducing anything dangerous for your body.
First of all, you should know that a tampon is composed of different layers:
- The central part corresponds to the absorbent part which is composed of fibers from cellulose: either viscose or cotton
- A veil, which is the layer covering the absorbent part. This layer is very thin and allows for a smooth, painless insertion and removal. It can be made of cellulose fibers or synthetic fibers such as polyester, polyethylene or polypropylene.
- There is also the cord that allows the withdrawal. It is either made of cardboard or polyethylene paper
- Depending on the type chosen: theapplicator made of polyester, polypropylene or cotton
Finally, some brands add chemical substances such as perfumes, toxic products and odor neutralizers, to avoid!
However, there are tampons that are less harmful to your health, such as organic and GOTS-certified tampons. These must be made of natural and organic fibers throughout the production process.
How to use a tampon correctly?
In reality, putting this type of sanitary protection is something very simple, it is just enough to get the hang of it, although the first times it may seem complicated.
Putting the tampon in the vagina
First of all, wash your hands well beforehand and follow proper hygiene. To make it painless to insert the tampon, you need to relax and put yourself in a position that suits you best, either squatting or standing with one foot on the toilet.
Of course, you must first remove the wrapping 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 the tip of your finger on the base of the tampon, while spreading the lips to come and position it at the vaginal opening by pushing it in.
- When you can no longer feel it, it means that it is well in place. The cord should hang outside. If you feel any discomfort in your intimate area, heaviness or tingling, it is a sign that it has not 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 tampon is outside the applicator
- It is in place, check that the string hangs outside your labia
- Wash your hands
Remove the tampon correctly
Removal is even easier than insertion! This protection is usually removed after 4 hours. It is better to remove it too early than too late to avoid any infection, bacterial proliferation or bad odors
Wash your hands beforehand, then pull on the string, it will slide off by itself. If the removal is painful, it means that your flow is too weak compared to the level of absorption chosen, the absorbent part remains dry and dries your vaginal mucosa. In this case, choose another type of sanitary protection.
If you cannot find the string, squat down and insert your index finger into the vagina to find it. Although rare, it is possible for the string to break. In this case, use your fingers to pull it out. Don't panic: it is impossible to lose a sanitary protection in 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 should not wear it for more than 8 hours at a time: the blood stagnating in the vaginal canal is conducive to the proliferation of bacteria. Do not wear it at night.
If you use this type of sanitary protection when swimming, change it immediately after getting out of the water. Indeed, it will be soaked with chlorine or salt water which is not good for your vaginal flora.
It is important to use a tampon only during your period because outside this period, it will unbalance the vaginal flora, cause infections, recurrent mycosis and vaginal dryness. If you have too much vaginal discharge that bothers you or spotting, you can use organic cotton panty liners or menstrual panties.
Of course, this is for single use only!
What to do if you forget a tampon in your vagina?
Forgetting a tampon can lead to a risk of toxic shock syndrome. This is a very rare but very serious, potentially fatal infection caused by certain strains of Staphylococcus aureus. With blood stagnating in the absorbent area, toxins and bacteria have room to grow. If you have forgotten a tampon and have symptoms such as fever, headache, malaise, vomiting, diarrhea and a sunburn-like rash, remove it immediately (even if it is not forgotten) or use an internal hygiene shield and go directly to thehospital. The sooner TSS is managed, the better it is treated.
What are the best alternatives to tampons?
Tampons have advantages in terms of practicality, but also disadvantages and dangers 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 device that has the shape of a bell that will collect blood. But be careful: worn for too long, it also carries the risk of TSS because the blood stagnates.
- External sanitary pads have never been implicated in menstrual TSS because there is no stagnation of blood in the vaginal canal. We can mention disposable or reusable pads, or menstrual panties.
At Elia, it is the menstrual panties which is our privileged alternative: a protection zero waste, zero risks for your health and very comfortable during your period! Its technicality and its natural antibacterial materials make that it prevents the bacteria from developing and proliferating: no possible infections! There are several of them, for all types of flow, even the most abundant. What are you waiting for to switch to menstrual panties?
FAQ about tampons
Is it okay to use tampons?
In order to practice free instinctive flow, you must first listen to your body and its signals that tell you that blood is flowing from your cervix and down the vaginal wall. As soon as this happens, you should contract your perineum and only release it when you go to the bathroom!
Do tampons stop my period?
It is possible to voluntarily hold back the flow of blood during your period, and only facilitate its flow when you decide to do so! This is called the free instinctive flow or the free flow instinct method.
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- Everything you need to know about the history of sanitary protection!
- Free instinctive flow: how to practice it? Methods and tips
- Sanitary napkin: everything to know to use it well!
- Menstrual cup: everything to know to use it well!
- Panty liner: everything to know to use it well!
- Menstrual sponge: everything to know to use it well!