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General Menstrual Guides

How to Use a Tampon

It is often undesirable for a girl to talk to someone when they first get their period. Some girls even find it difficult to discuss the subject with their parents, and vice versa. Girls have to therefore divert to other means of information. When you first get your period, there are many options available to restrict blood flow, but the most easily available and most effective ones are a sanitary napkin, a menstrual cup or a tampon. The tampon is a little bit more complex, but once you see it and understand how it is inserted, it can be a cleaner and more preferable option. If you are having trouble sleeping with tampon, read this article.

Steps to follow

  • Buying: There are different types and brands of tampons. Many tampons are made from chemically treated cotton, but there are tampons made from just cotton and not chemically treated. There are applicator and non-applicator tampons, you’ll need to decide which ones you prefer over the course of two or three periods. Try a different one each time. Tampons come in different absorbency, it’s important to use the lowest absorbency you can and change absorbency as flow changes – usually the first few days are heavy, and the last few are just spotting, or light flow, at first try the lightest absorbency you can, read the instructions so you know which one you would need.

  • Insertion: Squat, or sit on the toilet with your legs apart. Hold the tampon with the thumb and middle finger, with the rounded end facing the vagina. If you are using an applicator tampon, put the first half directly into your vagina until your fingers touch your skin. Then use the first finger to gently insert or push the center of the applicator into the vagina (Make sure you are putting it inside the area of your vagina that the blood is coming out of, not at your hymen). Pull back on the applicator with your fingers to remove. The tampon remains inserted with a string hanging on the outside. If you are using a non-applicator tampons then place the rounded end of the tampon directly into the vagina, use your first finger to gently insert or push the tampon into the vagina as far as it will go, aiming towards the small of your back, and stop when the tampon is in place with a string hanging down. Don’t be scared to touch your vagina, both it and menstrual flow is quite clean.
  • A tampon may look big and scary, but in reality the bigger part is the applicator. Applicators are not necessary, but some people prefer not to have to touch their vagina. The tampon is the small bundle of fibers in the fat end of the applicator.
  • If a tampon does not come with an applicator, use your fingers to push it into your vagina. Push as far as it will go comfortably – you will feel a resistance when it hits your cervix, which means, you have pushed it all the way into your vagina and into the correct position. If the tampon feels uncomfortable, it’s not in far enough. The entire tampon must be higher than your pubic bone or it will be uncomfortable. The reverse sounds more probable, doesn’t it? But in this case, having the entire tampon in actually reduces discomfort. If it is uncomfortable push it in a little farther, or take it out and try again with a new tampon. If you are nervous and clench your muscles you won’t be able to get the tampon into the right position so stay relaxed during the process.
  • A tampon cannot get stuck inside: Remember a tampon will not get stuck inside you, nor can it get lost inside your body because there’s nowhere for it to go. It can easily be pulled out with the string or with your fingers if the string has broken. If the string does break and you can’t get it out with your fingers, you will have to see a doctor right away.
  • Remove the tampon after 4-6 hours: Never leave a tampon in your body for longer than four to six hours. If you feel some resistance when removing the tampon, it usually is because it is dry and can still absorb more flow. In that case, switch to a lighter absorbency next time you use a tampon. When you first start using tampons, you won’t know when it’s ready to be taken out. In a few hours, take it out by pulling gently on the string with your muscles relaxed. Soon you’ll get to where you can feel the difference between one that’s full and one that isn’t. After removing a tampon you can insert a clean one or use a pad. Remember, practice makes perfect so don’t fret too much over your mistakes.
  • Dispose tampons properly: Tampons are not flushable. They can both clog the toilet or the pipes further down the system causing flooding and damage to the sewage system. Some tampons can even make it through the sewage into the sea and washing up on beaches. Always wrap up your used tampon and dispose in the bin (most public toilets have sanitary bins near the toilet for this reason).

Important Tips

  • Tampons come in different sizes – e.g. light and heavy. Choose one which is most suitable to the amount you bleed during your period. Try using lowest absorbency ones first and move on to higher ones If you feel that the light cannot restrict blood flow effectively in your case.
  • Cotton tampons as they are softer and hence so easier to use.
  • Make sure you leave the string easily accessible for you to remove the tampon. It can be quite a problem removing it if the string breaks.
  • There is no specific time to use a tampon; even then, try to choose a day when your flow is regular, not at the very start or end of your period.
  • If you are younger, start with a small, light tampon. You can always increase later once you get the hang of inserting it. You’ll need a bit of practice.
  • Don’t forget, even though it might not be comfortable you can always ask your friends. Don’t be scared; they have been through the same thing.
  • Don’t use super-absorbency ones unless the problem becomes very heavy.
  • If you are a virgin, check what kind of hymen you have. Some girls cannot wear tampons because the openings inside are too little while their hymens are still intact. If you are concerned about this, you might consider getting a hymenectomy depending on the doctor’s recommendation and the norms of your society.

Warnings

  • Be aware of tampon-risks such as Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS) and vaginal infections which are real risks when using tampons.
  • Don’t use tampons when you’re not menstruating, tampons absorb fluids so they can cause drying that damages vaginal walls, without menstrual flow the tampon will cause more drying, which can be painful and can make you vulnerable to health risks.
  • Changing tampons every 4 to 6 hours is very important for hygiene; because the longer they are used the longer bacteria have to multiply within your genitals so greater the risk.
  • Always use the lowest absorbency first; if that leaks after an hour or so, you can change it and insert a higher absorbency one.
  • Alternate between tampons and pads, tampons stop your vagina from cleaning itself and encourage bacterial growth, using a pad after a tampon gives your vagina a chance to clean itself because a pad doesn’t restrict flow like the tampon does.
  • Use pads overnight, most women sleep longer than 4 to 6 hours, also when laying down less blood flows down so the tampon will absorb more vaginal fluids leading to more vaginal damage and increased health risks.
  • Don’t use tampons if you have vaginal infections because tampons can further encourage the growth of bacteria in your vagina, which can in turn aggravate the infection.

  • Do not store tampons in the bathroom where you bathe. It will absorb the heat and moisture and make you more susceptible for Toxic Shock Syndrome.
  • You should never use any petroleum-based lubricant on your vagina as this traps dirt and bacteria as well as dries vaginal walls; instead use KY jelly or olive oil. This causes no damage to the tampon, as opposed to a petroleum jelly.
  • Always remove a tampon before having sex, as this can push the tampon out of easy reach and can be rather inconvenient and occasionally quite dangerous.
  • If you’re young and have difficulty in the insertion of a tampon, stick to pads. Younger girls should always use pads first, and then switch to tampons when they feel they are ready.
  • Occasionally young girls have difficulty removing a tampon. It can become stuck when it absorbs thus becoming a bit larger than the opening in the hymen. Young girls have smaller hymen openings. If you are unable to remove the tampon or experience pain, seek the assistance of your health care provider. While you may be embarrassed, it is not uncommon in young girls although most will not have a problem.
  • Never play with the tampon while it is in your body.


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