Very Fitting – Pads and Tampons
Choosing what type of protection to use during your period can be
challenging! Even though we have better period products today than girls did in
the past and in other parts of the world, we know it does not make it any easier to
decide what will work best for you.
You may know that typically, women and girls use pads or tampons when
they have their periods. You have probably seen your mom buy them during a
shopping trip. It’s likely that your mom grew up using pads and will likely offer you
the same when you get your period. It is becoming more common now for many
girls to want to wear tampons. Your mom may have expressed some discomfort
to you about this idea, for any number of reasons. First, she might just feel
uncomfortable with the idea because its something she herself hasn’t even tried
out and may not be able to teach you. Second, she may just simply think you’re
too young. Finally, it is a common misconception in many faith-based
communities that using a tampon makes one lose her virginity. Whatever the
reasons for her discomfort, it's important to explore these options together with
your mom, and decide what is best for you.
Here is some information that is important to know about pads and
tampons when you are thinking about what to use:
- Pads stick to your underwear
- Check your pad every couple of hours to see if it needs to be changed. Change it before it is soaked with blood or starts to smell.
- Do not wear a pad when you swim. It will get very bulky and may leak or fall out when you get out of the water.
- Pads come in all absorbency levels: daytime, overnight, light flow, heavy flow, and pantyliners.
- Scented pads may cause irritation.
- Tampons are inserted into the vagina. If the tampon has a cardboard covering, it is called an applicator, and do not leave this inside the vagina.
- Change your tampon using the string at the end every 4-8 hours. If you sleep more than 8 hours, it’s not a good idea to wear a tampon overnight.
- Tampons will not get lost in your vagina. You can wear a tampon when you swim.
- It is very important to use the tampon with the lowest level of absorbency for your needs.
- On heavy days, you may need a “super” tampon, and as your flow gets lighter, you may need only a “regular” tampon. Or, you may need a “regular” tampon on heavy days, and then can switch to a “lite” tampon for lighter days.
- If you remove the tampon after four to eight hours and find that some white material is still showing, you should use a lower absorbency.
- If a tampon absorbs as much as it can before four hours, you might want to try a higher absorbency.
- Tampons also come in all sizes. If you are finding it hard to put one in, you might need one with a smaller applicator. If you really cannot get one in, you might need to see your doctor.
- Scented tampons may cause irritation.
- Girls who have never had sex can use a tampon. You might try a “slender” tampon at first because they can be easier to put in. What about your virginity? Some people think having a torn hymen (the covering to the vagina) means you aren’t a virgin. Using a tampon might stretch or tear your hymen — or it might not. But doctors say that changes to your hymen do not mean you aren’t a virgin. Having sex means you aren’t a virgin.
- You could be at risk for toxic shock syndrome (TSS) if you use tampons that are too absorbent or don’t change them often enough. You can avoid TSS by not using tampons at all, changing them often, or by switching back and forth between tampons and pads. The symptoms of TSS can be caused by many other illnesses, but make sure to tell an adult and call a doctor if you are using tampons and have the following:
- High fever that comes on all of a sudden
- Vomiting or diarrhea
- Muscle pains
- Dizziness or fainting
- A rash that looks like sunburn
- Redness of eyes, mouth, and throat
- Strange vaginal discharge (fluid)
- A feeling of confusion
We hope this list may help you decide what is best for you. It’s ok not to know
right away – you may feel comfortable using one for a while and then change
your mind. There are also ways to care for your period that are reusable or
natural, such as:
- Menstrual cups. You put a small cup into your vagina to collect blood. Some cups are for one-time use. Others are emptied, washed well, and reused.
- Reusable pads. These are pads that are washed and reused. Usually, you would put a cloth pad into a liner that attaches to your underwear. You change the pad as needed and wash it according to the maker’s instructions. These pads are more expensive than disposable ones, but they save money over time because they last for years.
- Reusable menstrual sponges. These are natural sponges from the ocean floor. They work the same way tampons do. Follow the company’s instructions for changing them (usually after around three to four hours) and washing them. Just like with regular tampons, it may be possible to get toxic shock syndrome from sea sponges.
Non-chlorine bleached all-cotton pads and tampons. These are disposable like regular
tampons and pads, but they are made without chemicals. They are usually more expensive
than other pads or tampons.