Using a tampon seems simple enough: unwrap the applicator, stick it in your vag, push, and voila! You’re now protected against period blood stains for a few hours. And it is that simple, really, especially if you’ve been doing it for a long time (if you’re afraid to use a tampon and haven’t done it yet, that is a whole different story). But that doesn’t mean you can’t make some serious mistakes when using a tampon that can not only mess with your period, but can also be pretty bad for your vagina. I’m guessing you don’t want to do either of those things!
Tampons shouldn’t be scary or intimidating, so knowing these mistakes are possible shouldn’t freak you out. It’s just important to know how to properly use one, especially since it’s going in such a sensitive area of your body. Tampons are amazing because they can make that time of the month so much easier and more convenient, but if you’re not using them right, the opposite could happen. Even if you think you’ve been doing the correct thing for years… think again. The below tampon mistakes are so common that you definitely have to be making at least one of them – figure out which one you’re making so you can protect your vagina:
You Always Use Super Tampons Just In CaseBeing able to choose between different sized tampons is a beautiful thing. This is especially true if your period gets super heavy, and a regular size tampon just isn't cutting it. Super size tampons are great for a heavy flow, sometimes essential - but that's the only time you should be using them, when your flow is very heavy. I get the idea behind wearing them all the time - you probably think of it as extra protection - but it can actually be harmful. Higher absorbency tampons, like super tampons, increase your risk of TSS. You only want to use them when you need to, not all the time.
You Leave Your Tampon In While Peeing or PoopingRaise your hands if you've left your tampon in your vag while peeing or pooping. And.... that's probably everyone reading this site. It can be frustrating to change your tampon each time you go to the bathroom, especially if you're dealing with a light flow. But it's not the best idea to leave it in there. If the string gets pee or poop on it, it can easily get that bacteria into your vaginal area where it isn't supposed to be. That can lead to uncomfortable infections. You're better off making sure the string is out of the way, or changing it. Source: iStock
You Wear Them While SleepingWhen I was younger, I was terrified to wear a tampon over night because of the risk of TSS, which always seems SUPER serious at one point in your life thanks to that one recurring Seventeen essay post about the girl who gets TSS and almost dies. Anyway, since then, I've learned that it's okay to wear tampons overnight... it's just not the best idea. Although TSS is really rare, the risk of getting it is increased when you wear a tampon for a long time. So, if you sleep more than eight hours, you should switch to pads. Health risks aside, your sleeping position could easily lead to a leak. And the last place you want period blood is on your favorite PJs or your nice bed. Source: iStock
You Don't Push It In EnoughI read a lot of questions from you guys about the same thing: why tampons hurt when they're inserted. The number one reason for pain from a tampon is that it wasn't inserted correctly. For most girls, this means it wasn't pushed in far enough. If you can feel the tampon while you're walking around or sitting, you inserted it wrong. If it hurts or feels awkward, it wasn't pushed in enough. When you insert your tampon, be sure to push it up there, not so much that it hurts, but so much that you forget it's even there. You're not supposed to be able to feel it all day! Source: iStock
You Don't Change Your Tampon After Being In The WaterOne of the biggest advantages of wearing tampons is that you can go in the water with them on, unlike a pad. Tampons keep you protected at the beach or the pool, and let you take baths without stress. That's great! What's not great is forgetting to change your tampon after taking a dip. The string of the tampon gets soaked in chlorine or salt water or whatever bacteria was just floating around, and brings that to your sensitive vaginal area. This can lead to an irritating feeling or even an infection. Source: iStock
You Don't Change It Often When Your Period Is LightYou know the last day of your period, or the day after the last day when you're wearing a tampon just to be sure you're covered? When your flow is super light and you just have to pop in a small tampon and go on with your day? Yeah, well, even if your flow is light, you still need to change your tampon regularly. Not only does leaving it in there all day increase your risk of TSS, it also leads to a moist environment where bacteria thrive. Source: iStock
You Use Your Tampon For DischargeUsing a tampon for discharge might seem smart. You don't feel it, it soaks up the stuff before it can get to your underwear, and all is good. Well, uh, not really. Tampons aren't made for every day wear if you don't have your period. Using one without any period blood can mess with the acidity levels of your vag, leading to some sort of infection. On top of that, tampons probably won't do a great job of soaking up discharge, so it's not even really worth it. You're better off using a panty liner if you absolutely need to (although doing that every day isn't a good idea either). Oh, and don't forget that using a tampon with a dry vagina is the WORST. Source: iStock
You Don't Wash Your Hands Before Inserting ThemYou already know to wash your hands after using the bathroom (I hope). Well, when you have your period, you should wash your hands before inserting the tampon as well. Whatever bacteria is on your hands gets on the tampon, and then gets in your vag, and can cause an infection. It's always a good idea to wash your hands before they get near that area. Source: iStock
Have you ever made any of these tampon mistakes? What’s your weirdest tampon story? Share in the comments.