Teaching your teen how to use tampons can seem like a very daunting task.
Not only do you have to talk her through the ickiness of manhandling tampons, you have to assure her that the entire thing is perfectly normal.
Fortunately, there are so many tampon options available for teens now, that the technical part of ‘using tampons” is your biggest concern.
My number one piece of advice for talking to your teen about using tampons is to be prepared.
They’re going to have a lot of questions.
You want them to feel comfortable coming to you with those questions, so it’s a good idea for you to brush up on your period knowledge.
Understanding the menstrual cycle
First, you want to make sure your daughter has a basic understanding of the menstrual cycle.
To put it simply, the menstrual cycle is the monthly shedding of the uterine lining.
It results in bleeding that lasts for an average of 3 to 7 days.
Reiterate to your teen that menstruation and bleeding are normal.
Then talk to them about tracking their periods, and how to recognize patterns and irregularities in their cycle.
This will empower them to take control of their reproductive health and impact them for the rest of their lives.
What are tampons and how do they work?
Tampons absorb menstrual blood directly from the vagina.
They’re made of soft, absorbent material and come in different sizes and absorbency levels.
Unlike pads, which are worn externally, tampons are inserted into the vagina to collect the blood before it leaves the body.
Menstrual cups and tampons have that in common, but tampons are generally considered easier to use (and less messy).
Tampons are pretty much undetectable and allow for freedom of movement during physical activities.
Teens need to choose the right absorbency level based on their individual needs to prevent leaking and to make sure they’re comfortable.
Benefits of using tampons for teens
I was an avid tampon user as a teen. Here are some of the benefits:
- Tampons are discreet. There was no poofy booty because of pads.
- They allow teens to participate in sports and activities without worrying about leaks.
- Tampons provide a sense of cleanliness and freshness.
- They are less bulky than pads.
- Tampons are small, so you can take one to the bathroom without everyone in your business.
A common misconception about tampons
There are several myths and misconceptions surrounding tampons, which can create unnecessary fear and confusion for teens.
It’s important to debunk these myths and provide accurate information to help teens make informed decisions about their menstrual health.
One common myth is that using tampons can cause girls to lose their virginity.
This is not true.
The hymen, a thin membrane that partially covers the opening of the vagina, can stretch or tear due to various reasons, including physical activities, tampon use, or even during normal growth and development.
Using tampons does not affect a girl’s virginity or “purity” in any way.
Choosing the right tampon for teens
Teens need to understand that the size and absorbency level should be based on their individual needs, which may change from one day of their period to the next.
Teens who have just started their period or have a lighter flow may find that smaller-sized tampons are more comfortable.
These tampons have a lower absorbency level and are ideal for lighter flows. As their flow becomes heavier, teens can gradually switch to larger tampons to accommodate their needs.
It’s also important to consider the shape and design of the tampon. Some tampons come with applicators, which can make insertion easier for beginners.
Applicators can be made of plastic or cardboard, and teens can choose the one they feel most comfortable with.
For teens who prefer a more environmentally friendly option, non-applicator tampons are also available.
How to insert a tampon
With a little practice and patience, inserting a tampon will become second nature. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to do it:
- Wash your hands: Before starting, it’s important to wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water to maintain hygiene.
2. Get in a comfortable position: Teens can choose a position that feels most comfortable for them, such as standing with one leg elevated, squatting, or sitting on the toilet.
3. Unwrap the tampon: Hold the tampon at the base, ensuring the string is hanging down. Remove the wrapper carefully to avoid touching the absorbent portion.
4. Relax and find the right angle: Gently separate the labia with one hand and use the other hand to hold the tampon at the base. Find the vaginal opening and aim the tampon towards the lower back.
5. Insert the tampon: Using a slow and steady motion, guide the tampon into the vagina until the fingers touch the body. The tampon should be comfortable, and the string should be hanging outside the body.
6. Remove the applicator: If using a tampon with an applicator, gently pull out the applicator while making sure the tampon remains in place.
7. Check for comfort: After insertion, ensure the tampon is positioned correctly by doing a gentle tug on the string. If it doesn’t move or cause discomfort, it is properly inserted.
To remove a tampon:
- Wash your hands.
2. Relax and get in a comfortable position: Teens can choose a comfortable position, such as sitting on the toilet or squatting.
3. Find the string: Gently pull on the string until the tampon comes out. Be careful not to pull too hard or too quickly, as it may cause discomfort (or, frankly, a mess).
4. Dispose of the tampon: Wrap the used tampon in toilet paper or the wrapper of a new tampon and toss it in the trash can. Don’t flush it down the toilet because it will mess up the plumbing.
Tampons are just one choice
If your teen doesn’t like tampons, there are other choices.