If you have young female teenager in the house who has questions about using tampons, let her read the following article, which originally appeared on Teengrowth.com
You've started your period and now you're thinking about using tampons.
Anything to get away from bulky pads and annoying pantiliners, but you're
a little unsure about inserting a tampon. Is it safe, how do you do it and
what happens if you can't get it out? These are all normal questions that
pretty much every teen has when she decides to start using tampons. If after
reading this article, you still have questions, ask your mother, a school
nurse or your doctor.
How old should you be before using a tampon?
If you've started having periods, you can use tampons. Tampons are
inserted inside the vagina to absorb the menstrual blood before it leaves
the body. What many girls are worried about is whether they'll still be
considered a virgin if they use tampons. The very slender tampons especially
designed for young teens, if used according to directions, will usually not
damage the hymen (the thin bit of tissue that partly covers the opening of
the vagina.) Only having sexual intercourse truly makes you lose your virginity.
On the other hand, since it is a little scary to use a tampon for the first
time, many young teens prefer to use pads or pantiliners until they are older
and more comfortable with their rapidly changing bodies.
How do you choose a tampon?
Tampons come in different sizes (slender, regular, super, etc.) and
use different types of applicators (card board, plastic, no applicator).
At first, you'll have to go through a "trial and error" process to see which
one works best for you. The first one you might want to try is a slender
form or one that says it's specifically designed for teens. As for the
applicator, a plastic one with a rounded tip may be the most comfortable.
You can also check with your mother or your friends to see what kind they
How do you insert a tampon?
When you purchase your first box of tampons, it'll have an "instruction
booklet" with diagrams. Read the instructions carefully and review the diagrams.
Once you're ready to insert the tampon the most important key to remember
is to relax. It's not painful to insert a tampon, but if you're tense it
could make the process a little uncomfortable. Before inserting the tampon,
wash your hands with soap and water. There are a few different positions
you can use to insert the tampon. Two such positions are either placing one
foot on top of the toilet or squatting over the toilet; again you'll have
to figure out which technique is best for you. Holding the center of the
tampon between your thumb and ring finger and using your index and middle
finger to hold the string in place, gently insert the tampon into your vagina.
If you feel pain or discomfort, slow down and relax. It may take a while
your first time. Once you've inserted the tampon and the center (the part
you're holding on to) is at the entrance of your vagina, using your other
hand, gently start pushing the exposed end of the tampon. This releases the
actual tampon into your body. You know it's fully inserted when the end of
the part you're pushing meets the center part you were originally holding.
Should you be able to feel the tampon once it is
Normally, women who wear tampons do not feel the tampon inside of
them. If you can feel the object, it may mean it's not inserted properly.
You'll need to remove it and try it again.
Don't worry; your first few attempts with a tampon may seem awkward.
The more you practice, the more natural it becomes.
What about Toxic Shock Syndrome?
There is also a very slight risk of an infection called Toxic Shock
Syndrome from tampon use. This could happen if you don't use the tampons
as instructed on the box. This bacterial infection can occur when women use
highly absorbent tampons and leave them in too long, allowing bacteria to
grow and invade the vaginal walls. You don't want to use a more absorbent
tampon than what you actually need. In other words, don't use the super absorbent
because you think it means you can leave it in longer. Tampons should be
changed every four to six hours. Also, look on the box to see how often the
manufacturer recommends the tampon be changed. Toxic Shock Syndrome will
usually occur within five days of the start of your period, and the symptoms
include a high fever, rash, vomiting and diarrhea.
If you can't find the string on a tampon, what do you
A "lost" tampon can become infected if left in the vagina, producing
a very bad smell and even fever and "toxic shock syndrome." So it is very
important to remove tampons within 6 to 8 hours. Sometimes the string on
the tampon does not hang down toward the vaginal opening the way it should.
Excuse us for being very explicit, but this is what to do. You might be able
to pull it out: wash your hands thoroughly, squat over the toilet, and try
to locate it with your index finger. If you are able to feel it, or the string,
"bear down" as if you were having a bowel movement while trying to remove
the tampon. This may be painful or difficult, especially if you are a virgin.
If you don't succeed, your doctor will be able to remove it.
Reprinted with permission from TeenGrowth.com.
As a reminder, this information should not be relied on as
medical advice and is not intended to replace the advice of your childs pediatrician.
Please read our full disclaimer.