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Tampon Basics

Tips on inserting and removing tampons

3 answers to common questions about tampons



Tampon Basics

In America, most tampons come in tubes (called an applicator) that worklike plungers. In other places the O.B. type of tampon without an applicatorare more common. The way you use a tampon with an applicator is to putthe tube in your vagina at a slight angle, aiming it toward the small ofyour back. Hold the middle of the tampon firmly just outside your body,and push the bottom part of it up, which pushes the tampon out of the applicator.Then you pull out the applicator, and flush it or throw it in the garbage.The tampon stays in there and absorbs the flow of blood. Tampons withoutplungers are just pushed in on the end of your finger. Push it up and backas deep as your finger will go. You should not feel a tampon in your vagina.If you do, it is not in far enough, and you should try to push it in alittle deeper. Once in, it stays there and absorbs the blood until youpull it out by its string, which hangs outside your body.

You will learn with experience when its time to change a tampon. Tryto use the tampon size right for your flow. Using one that is more absorbantthan you need can cause irritation or dryness in your vagina, which canlead to painful removal or even to Toxic Shock Sydrome.

Tampons come in different sizes or absorbancies. "Junior"or "Slender" being the smallest, and "Super" and "SuperPlus" being the biggest. The tampon makers have standardized thesesizes, so that the absorbancy for each size is about the same from brandto brand. You will find a chart explaining this on the back of every tamponbox.

As with pads, its not smart to buy deodorant tampons. First of all,the scent stays inside you anyway so deodorant is useless in a tampon,but the chemicals which are used to make the deodorant scent can causeallergic reactions.

Tips on inserting and removing tampons:

First, it might be easiest when you first start using tampons to use junior or slender tampons with the rounded rather than the flat ends. The plastic applicator kind of tampons (as much as I dislike the plastic waste) go in smoothest.

The best positions for inserting a tampon are squating a bit , or withone foot up on the toilet. Always aim the tampon toward the small of yourback. Remember, your vagina slants backward.

It is important to stay relaxed while you put in a tampon. If you arenervous, your muscles tense up and can make it it almost impossible toget the darn thing in. If you have trouble, think about the muscles thatyou can use to stop peeing. Imagine yourself peeing, stopping the urineflow, and then peeing some more. Feel those muscles? Relax them, and tryto keep them relaxed while inserting the tampon. If that doesn't work,try a smaller tampon, put a little vasaline on the top part of the tampon,wait until your flow is heavy or just try again later.

If it comes time to remove the tampon, and you can't find the string,don't panic. First make sure the string isn't just stuck to you somewhere,because it is easy to miss. If it can't be found, you might want to squat,so your vagina is pressed down. Then put a finger up inside your vagina(vasaline or spit might help) and feel for the tampon or the string.. Takedeep breaths and try to keep your muscles relaxed. The vagina is prettysmall, really, so you if you take your time, you should be able to findthe tampon and pull it out.

3 answers to common questions about tampons:

No, you don't have to take it out to go to the bathroom.

Yes, you can use tampons if you are a virgin.

No, tampons cannot get lost inside your body, or go up into your uterus.Your cervix keeps it in your vagina.


Tampons are popular because they are worn on the inside. With a tamponin, it is easy to forget you are having your period: you don't have tofeel anything between your legs Women who are worried about a pad showingunder tight clothing also choose tampons. They are also good for swimmingand running and other athletic activities where you do not want to worryabout a pad slipping around.

The used tampon can be flushed down the toilet, but it would be best if you didn't flush the cardboard tube. The plastic kind of tubes should never be flushed.

Tampons are easier on the environment than disposable pads because theycreate less plastic waste, and less waste in general.


Toxic Shock Syndrome:

This is a big disadvantage. TSS is a rare but very serious disease youcan get from wearing tampons. It is especially dangerous for young women.

Click here to find out more about TSS and how touse tampons wisely

Chlorine Bleaching:

Like pads, tampons from the well-known makers (Tampax, Playtex, O.B.)are bleached white with chlorine gas. There is a debate going on rightnow as to whether the chemical dioxin which is created by bleaching andwhich is present in the tampons, is harmful to women. Because tampons areworn inside of you , and you might use tampons for many years, it is somethingto think about. Chlorine bleaching is definitely harmful to the environment.All of this trouble could be eliminated completely if tampon manufacturerswould switch to a different bleaching system or make unbleached tampons.After all, why do they have to be sparkling white?

You can buy safely bleached tampons from smaller companies that selltampons through health food stores. Brands like NatraCare,Eco Fem and Seventh Generation make tampons that are bleached using greenmethods, and are also %100 cotton. All-cotton tampons help prevent ToxicShock Syndrome. Tampax has a new line of tampons called "Naturals"that are supposedly made of %100 cotton, but seem to be chlorine bleached.Natracare is filing a lawsuit against Tampax because Natracare claims that"Naturals" are not really made with %100 cotton. I will keepthis page updated as I find out more.

You can also write (see below for addresses) the big tampon manufacturersand ask them to please change the way they make tampons. Ask them to offer%100 cotton tampons that are not bleached with chlorine. In 1989 Britishwomen started a letter writing campaign, and 50,000 letters later theyhave safer oxygen bleached tampons and pads.

Plastic Trash:

The Playtex type of plastic tubes get flushed down the toilet, eventhough the instructions say not to, and millions of these little pink tubesend up out in the oceans, choking fish and washing up on the beaches. Unlikethe cardboard tubes, the plastic ones do not decompose. If you must usethe plastic kind of tampon, please throw the applicators in the trash!

Addresses of American tampon manufacturers:

(Write them!!! Call them!! It matters! It helps!)

Edward Fogarty, President
Tambrands, Inc.
777 Westchester Ave.
White Plains, NY 10604
(914) 696-6000

Cal Gauss, President
Playtex Products, Inc.
P.O. Box 7016
Dover, Del. 19903
(302) 674-6000

Colleen Goggins, President
Personal Products Co. (they make O.B. tampons)
Van Liew Ave.
Milltown, N.J. 08850
(908) 524-0500

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