Women’s Health and Tampons: What’s It All About?

When it comes to women’s health, sometimes it is difficult to discuss the ins and outs of menstrual products. The difficult “ins and outs” are literally true when it comes to using that little absorbent feminine hygiene product known as the tampon. Be it questions of what, where, when, how, and why, this article is here to give the skinny on correct tampon use. So let’s proceed with it all: what are tampons? How long can you keep a tampon in ?

Hmmm, how to describe tampons? Let me count the ways! One, they can be digitally inserted, and two, they can have an applicator for insertion. For women living outside of America, digitally applied tampons are preferred over the applicator-type because of hygiene and environmental concerns. For those that don’t know, digitally applied means that they are inserted by the “digits” of the hand (read: fingers!). They can contain natural cotton or synthetic materials. They could technically be made of other natural materials since, geographically, natural tampons seem to have been used all over the world (and presumably continue to be used the world over!); softened papyrus, wool, vegetable fibers, rolls of grass, and paper are said to all have been the different forms in which tampons have existed. It is yet to be seen if companies would switch from cotton or synthetic to these other materials, but it would be interesting if they did! Who knows, they might have other health benefits that we don’t know about.

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How long can you keep a tampon in?

The question of how long can you keep a tampon in is easily answered. It’s maximum 8 hours.

Where does it come from?

According to a popular magazine, known as The Atlantic, there are even accounts of tampon-use from ancient Rome, Indonesia, Hawaii, parts of Africa, and Japan. Who knows if the earliest usage, as is claimed, is strictly from ancient Egypt. Maybe tampons were used even earlier that! Was their use as wide-spread as contemporary tampon use? In today’s commercial version, the slender products come into a tampon user’s life at the start of (and through) a full menstrual period. They are used to easily absorb the menstrual fluids internally and are periodically replaced throughout the day. The time between the application, removal, and replacement with a new tampon varies from woman to woman because of differences in menstrual flow. Different flows means that tampon manufacturers must implement different levels of absorbency for their products. So the rate of tampon change depends on a woman’s particular flow and her preferred tampon’s absorbency. Generally, however, most recommendations are for three to five hour gaps between changes.

Tampon & Women’s

Correct tampon use requires that women make sure to replace a tampon as soon as it is saturated (read: soaked full!). If the absorbency of the tampon is too high for the amount of menstrual flow, it would be better to change it out because it can be uncomfortable to remove a dry tampon. Also, a tampon user should make sure to check herself for symptoms of Toxic-Shock Syndrome (otherwise known as TSS). At the first sign of a blood-pressure drop (a fainting sensation!), diarrhea, dizziness, high fever, light-headedness, muscles aches, rash, red-eyes, and/or vomiting, she should seek medical attention. It is a rare complication from a bacterial infection associated with using a tampon of too high an absorbency for the rate of a particular woman’s flow. In the case of tampons, less is more (or better!). A woman should also check the available ingredients for the tampons she uses, such as if it has a fragrance or not, and she should make sure that they pose no allergy risk. If she is sensitive to the ingredients, she should switch to a hypoallergenic or organic type.

How does tampons work?

This article would not be complete without a step-by-step explanation of the “ins and outs” of tampon insertion. So to put it in simple words, do as follows:

  1. Wash hands and let air dry.
  2. Open tampon wrapper.
  3. Get into a comfortable position (usually semi-squatting).
  4. Hold with the writing hand and use the free hand to position tampon at opening.
  5. Slowly place inside.
  6. If the tampon has been inserted with an applicator, discard it.
  7. To prevent leaks, consider adding a pantyliner.

Well, there it is: talking about menstrual products like tampons isn’t as difficult as it seems! Tampons are simple to insert and require regular changes, and the greatest effort for correct tampon usage is to evaluate the user’s flow and adjust the tampon usage accordingly.