What You Need To Know About Using A Tampon For The First Time

There’s no reason to be afraid.
PHOTO: istockphoto

Tampons: Even though they’ve been around for decades, so many women still feel uneasy about using them. In fact, if you think back to when you first got your period, you were most likely introduced to napkins or sanitary pads, and nothing else. Every woman around you used those, too. But tampons are slowly becoming more popular in the Philippines, especially among older women.

What exactly is a tampon?

Like napkins, tampons are sanitary products used to absorb period blood. It’s just cotton shaped into a cylinder so it can be used more comfortably. Unlike pads, tampons are used for internal absorption. They, too, come in different shapes and sizes, and it might take a while to find one that’s your perfect fit.

Where does the tampon go?

We understand your hesitation: Unlike sanitary pads, which are simply stuck on your underwear, tampons require insertion. Here’s a quick bio review.

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  • You don’t have to worry about inserting the tampon in your pee hole because your urethra is too small. Plus, that’s not where the blood comes out.
  • It also doesn’t go up your anus because only poop comes out of there.

The tampon actually goes inside the vaginal opening. You can look for it with your finger or simply hold up a handheld mirror in front of your vagina to see exactly where the tampon goes. No, this is not disgusting: It’s important for a grown woman to know about her vagina.

What should you do first?

Your vagina can handle a lot of things, yes, but you still need to do your part and make sure your hands are clean before touching a sensitive area. Wash your hands with soap and water. Once dry, unwrap the tampon. If, at any time, you drop the tampon, throw it away and open a new one.

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How do you insert a tampon?

Sit or stand in a comfortable position; some women prefer even placing one leg up to open up the vagina more. With your dominant hand, hold the tampon in the spot where the inner tube inserts into the outer tube. The string should be visible and pointing away from the body, farthest from your vagina.

With your other hand, gently open the labia, revealing the vaginal opening. Push the tampon inside. Stop when your fingers touch your vagina and the outer tube is fully inserted. Then use your index finger to push the inner tube in (where the string is connected). When you feel like tampon is in, use your thumb and middle finger to take the outer tube out of your vagina.

How to insert a tampon: Step-by-step guide

Make sure the string is visible at all times as you will need it during removal. To remove the tampon later, just tug on the string until the entire thing is taken out. Remember to wash your hands before and after you insert and remove the tampon.

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Does it hurt to use a tampon?

When done correctly, tampons shouldn’t hurt. There should be no discomfort. If you can still feel the tampon, this means you haven’t inserted it deep enough into the vagina. Remove the tampon, and try again with a new one.

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How often should you change a tampon?

Some women change their tampons every time they pee, but this is more of a personal preference—since your pee and your period come out of different holes. You should aim to change your tampon every four to eight hours, depending on how heavy your flow is that day. Make sure you don’t leave a tampon in your vagina longer than eight hours. This could lead to Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS).

What is Toxic Shock Syndrome?

Toxic Shock Syndrome happens when a tampon is left inside a vagina for too long, leading to a dangerous infection. When a tampon is in your vagina, different types of bacteria can grow. That bacteria can turn into toxin, which leaves you at risk. Common symptoms include:

  • Muscle aches
  • Headaches
  • Redness of your eyes, mouth, and throat
  • Sudden high fever
  • Dizziness
  • Fainting or lightheadedness
  • Vomiting
  • A rash
  • Diarrhea
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Can you use a tampon overnight?

Tampons, like sanitary napkins, can be used overnight—as long as you don’t go over eight hours. If you sleep in on weekends, we suggest using a pad instead, just to stay on the safe side.

All the wrong ways to use a tampon:

  • You use one to absorb discharge. It is strictly for period blood. It’s healthy to have some discharge during your period; your body is just producing lactic acid. Reducing the vagina’s acidity can allow harmful bacteria to grow. If your discharge seems excessive, see a doctor.
  • You use a tampon after your period ends. Tampons are at their best during your period. Pulling a tampon out of a dry vagina could hurt. If you’re still spotting, use a pantyliner.
  • You don’t change your tampon after you poop. While it’s not necessary to change your tampon every time you pee, pooping is a different story. Because there’s a string hanging from your vagina, it can easily pick up bacteria from when you do number two. This can easily infect the urethra. Plus, tampons can move or be dislodged while you’re relieving yourself, so it’s better to insert a new one anyway.
  • You use the same tampon after you swim. One perk a tampon has that a napkin doesn’t is being able to swim and do other activities while wearing one. However, when you’re done, you should replace it with a new one. Why? Again, the string comes into play. A string that’s been laced with chlorine (from the pool) or saltwater (from the beach) could cause a skin irritation down there.
  • You use tampons with torn packaging. Dirt or dust can enter the packaging and stick to the cotton, which could put your vagina at risk.
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Despite these warnings, tampons can be your best friend if you use it correctly and are aware of how to keep your vagina healthy. You don’t have to completely ditch your sanitary napkins. Some women only use tampons when their period is light. But at least now, you have one other option.

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