How Often Should You Change Your Tampon?

As a girl reaches her puberty, her first period is a matter of great concern for her and her mother. As she starts menstruating and is settled into handling things, she becomes comfortable with the hygiene products required during menstruation. Some women prefer sanitary pads for those days, while others make use of tampons. Getting comfortable with the latter may take some time, as the process of changing and handling a tampon is a bit tricky. However, as one becomes used to using a tampon, there is nothing more convenient! For this purpose, it is wise to learn everything about this useful female hygiene product, which has been used since ancient times and continues to be preferred by women around the globe. Your questions like How to use a tampon? How often should you change your tampon? How to stay hygienic while using a tampon? etc are answered in this article.

How Often Should You Change Your Tampon

What Is A Tampon?

Tampon is a name derived from a French word “tampion”, which literally means a plug or piece of cloth used for stopping a hole. A tampon is used for absorbing the menstrual flow in a woman, just like a sanitary pad. The only difference is that while a sanitary pad is used externally, a tampon is inserted in the vaginal opening and does the same job here. It is a cylindrical shaped roll of absorbent cotton pressed together, and has the ability to absorb the blood, which flows out during the menstrual cycle of a woman. Tampons are available at pharmacies as well as stores and come in various sizes and different degrees of absorbencies, depending upon the requirements of women. Generally, the first time users of tampons are recommended to use the slender size, as it is easy to insert, even in case of heavy flow. The slender size of the tampon actually facilitates its smooth insertion into the vagina.

How To Use A Tampon?

Before you use a tampon for the first time, the process of inserting it may seem complicated and it is perfectly normal if you get nervous about it. Knowing about your anatomy can help you locate the right place to insert it, which is the vagina. The insertion process of a tampon also depends upon the type you are going to use. There are two basic types- with a built-in applicator and a non applicator tampon.

Built-In Applicator Tampon

  1. Always ensure that your hands are washed before you start inserting a tampon. Unwrap it with dry hands. If you happen to drop it on the floor, replace it with a clean one. Tug the string of the tampon to make sure that it is secure. The best position to insert it is in the squatting position. You can also stand with one leg on the tub or the toilet seat.
  2. Hold the tampon from the middle, with your index finger and the one next to it, at the point where the inner tube is inserted into the outer one. The string should be visible and away from your body.
  3. Open the labia (skin surrounding the vagina) with your free hand and place the tampon at the opening. Push the tampon inside until you feel the fingers touch the body. Make sure that the applicator is inside the vaginal opening.
  4. Push the inner tube through the applicator or outer tube. The tampon will automatically reach inside your vagina.
  5. Remove the applicator from your vaginal opening with your thumb and middle finger. The string of the tampon will now hang outside your vagina and it needs to be pulled out gently for removing the tampon.

Non-Applicator Tampon

The first two steps are same in case of non-applicator tampons, as mentioned in the former type. After this, open the labia and place the tampon in the vaginal opening. Push it inside your vagina till your fingers seem to touch your back. This is much simpler than the built in applicator tampon. The most important thing is to ensure that the string of the tampon hangs outside your body, as it needs to be pulled to remove the tampon. It is essential to take care of hygiene whenever you handle tampons, before and after inserting and removing them. You will come to know that you have inserted the tampon correctly if you are comfortable with it. If not, it implies that there is some problem with it and it needs to be removed. After removing it, you must start again with a new one. You may find inserting a tampon a bit difficult to begin with, but gradually, with practice, you will be completely confident about the job.

How Often Should You Change Your Tampon?
Like the sanitary pad, a tampon too needs to be replaced periodically, depending upon your menstrual flow and the absorbency of the tampon. Since the menstrual flow of a woman may change from day to day, she may have to wear different absorbency tampons during a single menstrual cycle. Generally, it is recommended to change a regular absorbency tampon every 3 to 5 hours, though you may do it earlier if you feel that it is saturated or going to leak. A tampon can leak because of two reasons, firstly, it is fully saturated and secondly, it is not inserted correctly. In case low absorbency tampon is not good enough for you and gets full after a short interval of time, you may also change over to a higher absorbency tampon. This may help you carry the tampon for 3 to 5 hours at a stretch. Higher absorbency tampon can be worn up to 6 to 8 hours before changing them, but this is the maximum recommended time. A saturated tampon is easy to remove and this is the criterion that tells you that it is time to change your tampon. In case you have worn a tampon for long and it is not saturated by then, you must change it and switch over to the one with lower absorbency the next time. There is a slight discomfort associated with removing a dry tampon, which is the reason why you should choose the absorbency according to your flow. The key lies in listening to your body signals and pick the right absorbency variety according to your menstrual flow. So, how often should I change my tampon? The rule of thumb is never to leave the same tampon inside your vagina for more than 8 hours. Wearing a tampon for longer than this can have detrimental impact on a woman’s health.

Absorbency Ratings Of Tampons

Tampons are rated for their absorbency because of the quantity of menstrual fluid they can absorb. Here are the absorbency ratings of tampons:

  1. Junior or light absorbency- up to 6 g
  2. Regular absorbency- 6-9 g
  3. Super absorbency- 9-12 g
  4. Super plus absorbency- 12-15 g
  5. Ultra absorbency- 15-18 g

Is It Safe To Wear A Tampon Overnight?

Tampons can be worn overnight safely, but not for a period exceeding 8 hours, which is considered safe time. Wear a new tampon when you go to bed and change it as soon as you get up in the morning. In case you intend to sleep for longer hours, it is better to wear a sanitary pad. As long as a tampon is worn properly, it guarantees a good night’s sleep as it provides complete protection and stays snugly in place.

Some Facts You Must Know About Tampons

Tampons present a tricky picture to most women and they find it hard to be comfortable with the use of tampons. The reason is that there are some myths and confusions related to them, which need to be cleared. Here are some facts every woman must know about tampons:

  1. Tampons might look scary, but they can never get lost inside the vagina. Women get scared thinking what to do if the thread breaks. All they have to do is reach inside the vaginal opening and grab it with fingers to take it out.
  2. There is a myth that teenage girls cannot wear tampons, but there is no specific age for doing so. Young girls can start wearing them as soon as they are comfortable with them.
  3. It is possible to urinate while wearing a tampon.
  4. There was a time when it was believed that girls who wear tampons might lose their virginity as they may tear the hymen. However, this is not true, as tampons may stretch the hymen but not break it. So be assured that you will not lose your virginity by wearing tampons.

Busting these myths can also play a key role in removing the phobia and confusion related to the use of tampons.

What is TSS?

One of the potential health implications that women using tampons may come across is TSS, which means Toxic Shock Syndrome. The dangerous, yet rare infectious condition is caused by a potent strain of bacteria called Staphylococcus Aureus. The bacteria find perfect conditions for breeding inside the tampon placed in a woman’s vagina. Tampons themselves do not cause this infection, but they present a threat by creating the environment for the bacteria to become active. The bacteria are fatal in the sense that it can produce toxins. Some of the women have the ability to counteract the bacteria, while others cannot respond too strongly and fall prey to TSS. The risk of the infection rises among women who do not opt for the right absorbency tampons according to their flow. In particular, women who have light flow but wear high absorbency tampons are at a higher risk of TSS.

Symptoms of TSS

The most dangerous thing about TSS is that it affects the organ system of a woman and all of it happens suddenly. The body is influenced by a toxin, which makes the disease all the more dangerous.

Here are some of the symptoms of TSS:

  1. Sudden high fever, reaching up to 102 degree Fahrenheit
  2. Vomiting and diarrhea
  3. Rashes on the body, mostly on soles of the feet and palms of the hands. They look like sunburn
  4. Sudden drop in blood pressure, which may even lead to fainting spells
  5. Seizure, headache and disorientation
  6. Weakness and muscle aches
  7. Redness in eyes, throat, mouth and vagina
  8. In severe cases, failure of kidneys and other vital organs.

The symptoms of TSS start surfacing within 2-3 days of the formation of infection in the body.

Tips For Tampon Users To Stay Protected From TSS

A woman needs to be conscious about her menstrual health all the time as it has a bearing on her fertility and overall wellness. Here are some tips for tampon users to stay protected from TSS:

  1. It is essential to practice good hygiene while handling tampons. Always wash your hands before and after inserting and removing the tampon. Ensure that your finger nails are not sharp as they may hurt your genitals.
  2. When you insert a tampon, be very careful about following all the instructions mentioned on the packet of tampons.
  3. How often should you change your tampon? Change the tampon every 4 – 6 hours or earlier if you need to. Never wear a tampon for over eight hours at a stretch.
  4. Make sure that you use the right absorbency tampon according to your menstrual flow. The primary reason of TSS is wearing high absorbency tampons in light flow. Never use super absorbent tampons unless you have a very heavy period.
  5. Tampons are not meant to soak vaginal fluids other than blood. Never use them unless you are menstruating.
  6. It is not advisable to use tampons at a stretch. Rather, use tampons and pads alternatively. Wear sanitary pads at night and tampons at daytime. Wearing tampons to bed is a risk factor of TSS and many women used to doing so have experienced this problem.
  7. Always use a cotton tampon rather than a rayon one as the latter increases the chances of contracting TSS.

By following these simple rules, you can keep yourself safe from TSS and stay healthy during your menstrual cycle.

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