Everything you need to know about tampons

When my monthly visitor catches me unaware, I can always count on a gal pal to have a sanitary pad ready. I have yet to encounter anyone who has a stash of tampons instead though. In fact, I did a quick survey of my friends and found that most have never even tried anything besides napkins!

Their reasons are all the same: they don’t know how to put it on and the prospect of doing so is too intimidating for many. Tampons may not be a beauty product but here at Project Vanity, we’re all for talking about anything and everything that helps women feel more confident and empowered. So if you believe that knowing is half the battle, do read on!

The DL on tampons

Does the bloody sight of your period make you feel gross or squeamish? Tampons are actually a great way to skip seeing and feeling that. They’re designed to absorb the blood even before it leaves the body, and because it’s placed inside your vagina, you don’t have to worry about seeing any blood until you pull it out for replacement. Yup, no more worrying about making a mess of your undies or getting stains on your clothes because it literally plugs the bleeding. And unlike napkins that can get moved out of place, tampons simply stay put. You can swim and play sports while wearing them! 

Tampons come in different sizes and absorbencies so if you’re worried about first-timer discomfort, you can get one of those cute, small designs that look like lipstick bullets. There is a learning curve to figuring out how to put them on properly so it’s best to do so when you’re not in a rush or feeling tense. You may need to use a few so bring extras, and try to relax so insertion is easier. You should not be able to feel a tampon when it is placed correctly.

Real women on why they switched

Nikki, a freelance marketing consultant, started using tampons because she was doing sports. “I wanted to train without feeling the gush during heavy days,” she shares. “The constant movement while in training made me feel so conscious about a napkin getting dislodged. I didn’t want to have to worry kung may tagos ako o wala.”

For Zaya, a PR and communication manager, her tampon usage started out of necessity. “I live a very active lifestyle and I hated having to slow down or stop because of my period,” she explains. “I needed to be able to still dance, swim, or work out confidently and comfortably while on my period, and tampons were the solution.”

Our editor Liz is an ardent tampon fan. "I've been using pads for most of my life until only a year ago. I was in Hong Kong when I got my period. I couldn't find a sanitary pad in the stores I visited! I ended up getting a box of tampons because they were on sale. At first I was iffy about inserting something down there but it's zero hassle and it feels like nothing at all pala! I can't believe I scoffed at tampons for so long. I've been missing out."

Debunking the myths

Myth #1: Tampons will affect your virginity / Tampons are only for women who aren’t virgins

Let’s be frank: the only way you can “lose” your virginity is to have sex. It doesn’t happen when you ride bikes, do splits, or use tampons. And yes, you can use tampons even if you are a virgin. The tube is not much bigger than a finger and it won’t create any tears to your hymen.

While were here, here's a piece of news: hymens don't "break". They stretch, but they don't cover the vagina like some wall (unless you have an imperforate hymen which must be removed surgically.) There are different types of hymen. Some types though could be trickier to place a tampon in so if you find you have a problem, it may be best to see a medical professional as it might also be painful while you are having sex. Your menstrual blood might also have trouble getting out, which will cause painful abdominal masses.

Myth #2: Tampons can get lost inside you.

The cervix (the opening at the end of the vagina) is actually too small to allow even tiny tampons to pass through. The walls of the vagina also hold the tampon in place, which is why it’s so much more reliable for avoiding stains compared to napkins. When you’re ready to pull it out, just gently tug at the long string attached to the end of your tampon! It's not going anywhere until you want it to.

Myth #3: Tampons will give you Toxic Shock Syndrome

This is a legit concern but only if you’re very sloppy about your personal care and don’t change your tampons when you should. Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS) is caused by a bacteria, which can easily thrive in your nether regions. To prevent getting any sort of infections, simply make sure to stay clean! Wash and soap your hands before inserting and after removing your tampons. Change them every four to six hours, though some brands claim to be wearable for much longer.

What to try and where to buy

I usually find a box of Playtex tampons at SM Supermarket but they often look like they’ve been sitting on the shelves for quite some time. Rustan’s and Watsons also have them in supply, with Playtex and Tampax as the available brands. Stores that specialize in imported goods (like S&R) may also carry them.

Because they’re not as widely-used here, tampons can be hard to find and pricier than your average sanitary pad. A 10-piece box of regular or super absorbent tampons can cost around P200. If she’s unable to stock up or needs to keep her costs down, Zaya shares that she usually switches between the two. She’d wear napkins for regular days and save using tampons for when she plans to be more active.

Will you give it a try?

At the end of the day, it’s all about personal preference. I use tampons because I find them more comfortable (no warm, stifling, diaper-like feeling!) which is especially important on my red days. I don't feel sticky anymore! I no longer feel conscious about a bulky pad looking obvious against my skirt, and the tiny tubes don’t take much space in my kikay kit.

It did take me a while to learn how to insert it properly but once I did, I reveled in how liberating it was to not have to use an uncomfortable pad! I may not be as active as Zaya or Nikki, but it’s good to know that my period can’t stop me from doing whatever I want. It just feels cleaner, too.

Have you ever tried using tampons? How did it make you feel? And if you purchase them regularly, we'd love to know where you get them!

Sources: Playtex Play On, Young Women’s Health, Tampax