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Most women on attaining puberty start menstruating. A period is normal if it lasts for 3-5 days. It is essential to maintain good menstrual hygiene1 during periods. Absorption of the menstrual blood and timely changing of the sanitary product used is mandated. And in this article, we’ll take a look at how to put in a tampon for beginners.
There are a lot of menstrual products out there in the market that helps with the period flow.
Most women have experimented with various products over the years to find out what’s right for them. Menstrual pads, cups, and tampons are the most used menstrual kits2. It takes a few tries to get the right fit for you.
1. Sanitary Products
1.1 Menstrual Pads
Sanitary pads are one of the most popular menstrual products. They are rectangularly shaped and attached inside a women’s underwear to absorb women’s menstrual blood. Some of them come with wings attached which is helpful during heavy flow days. Disposable and reusable pads 3are available in the markets now.
1.2 Menstrual Cups
Menstrual cups are sanitary products where you insert a cup into the vagina. Unlike menstrual pads, they catch the menstrual blood. Once full, they are emptied. They are made out of reusable materials like silicon or rubber and can be used for more than eight hours at a stretch. They are eco-friendly, as one menstrual cup lasts for at least 5-6 years.
Tampons like menstrual cups are inserted into the vagina. They contain absorbent material compressed into smaller tubes. Tampons are available in various sizes, and you can choose one that fits your menstrual flow.
2. Contents of Tampons
Tampons are a blend of cotton and rayon that act as absorbent material. Tampons are free from elemental chlorine4, which makes them safe for use. Some tampons also come with a deodorant that helps eliminate the smell. These deodorants can cause irritation and allergic reaction in the vagina, so test for any irritation or allergies before usage. Fingers are to be used to insert the tampon into the vagina. However, these days tampons with applicators are also available. Tampons with plastic applicators are a blessing to beginners.
A plastic or cardboard tube that helps to guide the tampon into the vagina is known as an applicator. Applicator tampons are super easy to insert and are hygienic, as you don’t need fingers to insert them.
3. Get Your Size Correct
If you are new to tampons, choose the correct size depending on your menstrual flow. The right absorbency of your tampons depends on where and how active you are in your period cycle.
You have three sizes light, regular, or supersize tampons. If you have lighter blood flow, you can start with light-size tampons. However, if you have heavier blood flow, it’s always advisable to begin with regular-size tampons.
If your tampons still show a lot of white portion left post usage for 6 hours, you might want to scale down the size. It’s best to go for a lighter tampon that works for your body, as higher absorption tampons carry the risk of a deadly infection known as toxic shock syndrome.
Toxic shock syndrome 5is a life-threatening and rare infection caused by bacteria. It can often lead to such complications that may need major surgery. Seek medical attention if you have a sudden high fever, rashes that look like a sunburn, feel dizzy or experience vomiting or diarrhea. These are the known symptoms of toxic shock syndrome6.
4. How to Put in a Tampon for Beginners
Using tampons, in the beginning, can be overwhelming and intimidating. It usually takes a few tries for tampons to become a personal preference. Below is the step-by-step guide to help you with inserting a tampon.
4.1 Step 1: Wash Your Hands
Once you have selected the right tampon size and make sure you have read the tampon cover carefully. The first thing before getting started is to make sure that you wash your hands properly. Clean hands prevent germs and dirt from getting into or near your vagina.
4.2 Step 2: Get Yourself into a Comfortable Position
Understand the anatomy of your body before you insert the tampon. Tampons are inserted through the vaginal opening located between the urethra and anus. As there is a single vaginal canal, you rarely put it in the wrong hole. Often using a mirror, in the beginning, helps to locate where the tampon goes.
Various positions help to insert a tampon into the vagina.
You will be comfortable sitting on the toilet seat or supporting one leg on a tub or any raised platform. For beginners, inserting while sitting on the toilet seat will be easier.
4.3 Step 3: Inserting a Tampon with an Applicator
The applicator in a tampon makes it easier to insert. Applicators made of plastic or cardboard cover the tampons and place them in the vagina.
After you open the wrapper, you will see the two ends of the tampon. One end of the tampon applicator has the cotton end poking out, while the other has the tampon string. The plastic or cardboard applicator covers the tampon. There are two tubes in an applicator, one smaller tube inside the larger tube.
To insert the tampon, take the tampon in one hand and slowly insert the tampon into the vaginal opening. With the string side down, push the tampon till you reach the little indentation on the applicator’s side.
Inserting a tampon will not be smooth initially and can be painful if inserted straight up and in. Keep pushing gently as far as your middle finger. When the barrel or the inner tube of the applicator is inside, gently push the smaller tube with the index finger to insert the absorbent part inside the vagina.
Gently pull out the larger applicator tube with your thumb and middle finger and leave the string to hang out. This string will help you to pull the tampon once it is completely soaked. Wash your hands after the process. The applicator can be removed and disposed of after wrapping it in toilet paper. Do not flush the plastic waste!
4.4 Inserting a Non Applicator Tampon
A few tampons come without applicators and are much more tiresome to insert. Relax and take a deep breath before you start, as it can be tedious without the applicator.
Use the string to widen the base of the tampon by pulling it left to right and top to bottom. Now, you have made a pocket by moving the string around, which will protect your fingers. Put the index finger in this pocket and hold the tampon between your thumb and index finger.
Keep pushing the tampon with your index fingers till you stop feeling the tampon. Once inside, slide your finger out. The string hangs down and should be used to remove the tampon.
If you feel the tampons, you can gently pull the tampon and re-insert a new tampon. If you think it is not high enough, you can use your fingers to push the tampon farther up until you feel the tampon.
4.5 Step 4: Removing a Tampon
Changing your tampons every four to six hours is advised to avoid leakage or infection. Medically, it is suggested not to wear a tampon inside for more than eight hours.
Tampon removal involves gently pulling the string out. Sit over the toilet and grab the string to pull out the tampon. Wrap the used tampon in toilet paper or a tampon wrapper and dispose of it in the waste bin. Remember that tampons are not degradable, so do not flush them, as they can clog your septic systems.
5. Removing Tampon when String Breaks
There are chances of string breaking when attempting to remove the tampon. Do not panic in such situations. A tampon can’t get lost inside your vagina. Thoroughly wash your hands. Get into your comfortable position, insert your index finger into your vagina, and feel the tampon.
Once you feel the tampon, trap it using your index and middle finger inside the vagina and bring it out. Easy removal of tampons from the vagina necessitates that you are composed and calm in such situations.
6. When to Change Your Tampon
You should change your tampon more often. It is, however, not advocated to wear a tampon for more than eight hours. If you have heavy menstrual fluid, then it is recommended to change your tampons every 3-6 hours to avoid leakage. This helps to avoid saturation and prevents the vagina canal from being dried.
For beginners, it may take some time to get adjusted to tampons. If you feel any wetness inside the vagina, then change your tampons. It is an indicator of tampons having soaked up to their capacity. Check if your tampons are inserted correctly to avoid leakage.
If your tampon comes off easily after you tug on the string, it is time to change it. Also, when there is blood on the tampon string, it means that the tampon is about to leak.
Pull out the tampon if you experience a high fever or feel dizzy, as they are the symptoms of TSS. If you have a normal or light menstrual cycle and use a tampon with higher absorption, then there are chances of vaginal tearing. Ladies, make sure you change tampons every 8 hours!
7. When to Start Using a Tampon
You are ready to use tampons as soon as you start menstruating. No woman who starts menstruating is too young to use a tampon. There is no specific right age to use a tampon. If you are comfortable using a tampon, go ahead.
There is a misconception among young girls that it is unsafe to use tampons if you are a virgin. Well, ladies, it’s a misconception. Using a tampon doesn’t break your hymen and make you lose your virginity.
One thing to be noted is that tampons are solely for your menstrual discharge and not for vaginal discharge. Tampons are inserted into the vagina to absorb the blood. Many women who deal with excess vaginal discharge find it tempting to use tampons, but that is not a good idea. It can make your vaginal opening dry and more susceptible to bacterial infections.
8. Pros and Cons of Using a Tampon
Comfort:- After your first tampon use, you will find them to be more comfortable than pads. Tampons allow you to be more active as you need not worry about them falling out of place.
Hygiene:- Tampons make you feel cleaner and have fewer chances of foul smell arising from them. In the case of pads, you constantly worry about leaking into period underwear.
Sports:- When you wear tampons, you can engage in all physical activities without hassles. They also allow you to swim when you are on your period.
Compact:- Tampons are more compact and use up much less space. They can easily fit inside your pant pockets without anyone noticing. They are a lot easier to dispose of than pads.
Risk of TSS:- If you are not using the right size tampon, then chances are high for you to contract toxic shock syndrome.
Non-Biodegradable:- Tampons like pads are not eco-friendly. The plastic applicator of the tampon is manufactured using polypropylene which is not degradable. Even the cotton used in tampons contains various chemicals like those used to bleach cotton.
Difficulty to use:- Tampons are scary to some women as they need to be put inside the vagina. They are more comfortable using menstrual pads than tampons.
9. Tampons Aren’t Painful
A lot of women are scared of tampons thinking that they hurt. Well, the fact is that they are not supposed to be painful or uncomfortable. If you insert tampons properly into the vagina, you barely notice their presence and go about casually in your daily activities.
You may find some discomfort using them for the first time, but it wouldn’t be that bad later. A few tries will give you the expertise to get it right eventually.
10. Consult a Doctor
They used to provide comfort during periods and not cause pain. If pain persists every time you insert a tampon, consult your doctor. The pain or discomfort can be due to an allergic reaction or can be due to any underlying illness. Any sign or symptoms of TSS also requires to be medically examined.
11. In a Nutshell
Tampons may be a new experiment, like any other menstrual product. It requires a lot of learning and practice to get its usage correct. The discomfort or strange feeling will vanish once you familiarize yourself with the above steps. Tampons can be a real game-changer for you. Do not let your periods hold you back.
12.1 What Tampon Size Should I Use?
It’s typically advised to start with a smaller size, like a “lite” or “regular” tampon, for beginners. You can experiment with larger sizes as you gain confidence and experience.
12.2 How Frequently Should I Replace My Tampons?
To decrease the chance of developing toxic shock syndrome (TSS), it’s crucial to change your tampon every 4 to 8 hours. However, you must always adhere to the directions that come with your tampons and change the frequency of your flow.
12.3 What If Inserting a Tampon Hurts or Is Uncomfortable?
If it hurts or feels uncomfortable, tension or anxiety may be at blame. Try again after taking a big breath and relaxing your body. If the soreness continues or you’re having difficulties inserting the tampon, you might want to think about using a water-based lubricant or getting advice from a healthcare provider.
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