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How Old Should You Be to Use Tampons? Tips for First-Timers

Starting your period is part of a natural progression in a girl’s life. It means your reproductive system is healthy! You might have a lot of questions about using tampons, and that’s totally normal. You may wonder at what age you can use tampons and how to use them. Let’s find out the answers to all these questions about tampons.

How old do you have to be to use tampons? 

It’s possible for you to start using tampons as soon as you get your period, which could be as young as 10 for some girls. What matters is your comfort level. Armed with accurate information, choosing whether and when to use a tampon is your personal decision. 

Tampons can give you the freedom to continue activities such as swimming while on your period. However, it’s important to learn how to insert them correctly. Some girls may want to start using tampons right away, and others may prefer something else, like pads. There are no wrong answers, and you should use the period products that work for you.

There are some myths around using tampons. Some say young girls shouldn’t use tampons because they’ll lose their virginity. This is a myth, and you should ignore it! Tampons work equally well for girls who have or haven’t had sex. Moreover, using a tampon does not mean you lose your virginity. Even if a tampon stretches your hymen, virginity is related to sexual intercourse and not using tampons. 

How to choose your first tampon 

With so many options available, choosing your first tampon can be confusing. For beginners, using slender/light tampons might be a good idea because they’re smaller and easier to insert. Once you’ve understood your regular monthly period flow, you’ll know if it’s heavier than what light tampons can absorb. In that case, you can switch to regular tampons. Let’s look at all the types available.

Types of tampons by menstrual flow:

  • Slender/light — These tampons are made for girls and women with a light flow. It might be a good idea to start out using slender or light tampons.
  • Regular — ​These tampons work well for a normal flow and may also work well for beginners because of their smaller size.
  • High/Super absorbency — ​These tampons are specially designed for a very heavy flow. Ideally, these should only be used if regular tampons are not sufficient and only on days with heavy flow (usually, days one or two). These might not be the best tampons for beginners since period flows are often light in the first few months.

Types by applicator:

  • No applicator These tampons come without an applicator and have to be inserted using your fingers.
  • Cardboard applicator — These tampons come with an applicator made of cardboard to help insert the tampon. They may be rigid and feel uncomfortable for first-time users.
  • Plastic applicator — Tampons with plastic applicators are more comfortable to use and slide more easily into the vagina. They might be a little more expensive.

How to insert a tampon for the first time 

Learning how to use a tampon might seem a little confusing at first, but there’s no need to be nervous. Once you’ve inserted it properly, tampons are painless, and you can’t feel them at all while moving around. Follow these step-by-step tips to understand how to correctly insert a tampon:

  1. Relax and stay calm. The more relaxed you are, the more easily the tampon will slide in!
  2. Choose a slender, small tampon to start with. Once you’re totally comfortable inserting a tampon, you can move on to a larger size depending on your flow. 
  3. Stand or sit in a position that is comfortable for you. You might try crouching on a toilet/chair with one foot on the seat and the other on the floor. You can also lie on your back on a bed with your legs apart and knees up.
  4. Unwrap your tampon and extend the string fully. The string should be pointing away from you.
  5. Hold the middle of the tampon between your thumb and finger. 
  6. With your other hand, gently spread your vaginal lips open so that the tip of the tampon is at your vagina’s opening. The string should be visible, fully extended, with its end pointing away from your body
  7. Gently but firmly push the tampon into your vagina, aiming slightly upwards as you insert it. Keep gently pushing the middle of the tampon with your index/middle finger.
  8. Eventually, you will feel that the tampon is completely inside your vagina, and you cannot push it in any further. You will now see only the string visible outside of the vagina. 
  9. If you are using an applicator, once the tampon (still inside its applicator) is inside your vagina, hold the outer tube in place while pushing the smaller, inner tube farther in using your middle/index finger. This will push the tampon from the front of the tube into your vagina. 
  10. Once the tampon is all the way inside the vagina, gently remove the inner and outer tubes of the applicator. Make sure that the tampon string is hanging outside your vagina. 
  11. You can dispose of the applicator in the trash. Do not flush the applicator down the toilet because it can clog it.

To remove a tampon:

After four hours, it’s time to remove the tampon. Hold the string and gently but firmly pull the tampon slowly out of your vagina. You can then wrap it in toilet paper and throw it away. Tampons can easily clog a toilet, so don’t flush them! 

Tips to keep in mind:

Maintaining good period hygiene is important for your overall health. Keep the following tips in mind when using tampons:

  • Choose tampons according to your flow: Don’t use a tampon for a higher flow than what you have. If used for lighter flows, super-absorbent tampons can stick to the vaginal walls, causing tiny tears when you remove them. 
  • Change your tampon at least every four hours: It’s very important to regularly change your tampon every few hours. Leaving in a tampon for too long can increase your risk of toxic shock syndrome (TSS), a sudden and fatal bacterial disease. 
  • Use unscented tampons: It’s always a good idea to use unscented tampons that are free from harmful chemicals that can interfere with your vagina’s delicate pH balance. 

Deciding whether and when to start using tampons is a completely personal decision. There is no one right answer for how old you should be to use a tampon. They can be worn by girls as soon as their periods start. You might want to start off with slender/light tampons and move to more absorbent tampons if needed. It’s important to change your tampon every four hours to avoid leakage and the risk of toxic shock syndrome, a fatal bacterial infection. While they may be a bit uncomfortable to insert at first, a correctly placed tampon is painless and cannot be felt when moving around.

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