Let’s Talk Tampons. Five Things Every Woman Should Know!

December 6, 2018   Menstruation & Menopause


As females, we may experience our period making its appearance at a very inconvenient time—perhaps in the middle of an important meeting, at our best friend’s wedding, or on a day we decided to wear white. Cramps, bloating, and mood swings aside, tampons can often help us forget that Aunt Flo is even visiting. They give us the ability to function like we would on any given day without feeling like our period is limiting us. Although tampons make our lives easier, here are five things every woman should know about tampon usage.

Toxic shock syndrome (TSS) is a rare, but real thing

Toxic shock syndrome can occur when menstruating women keep a superabsorbent tampon inside their vagina for too long. Tampons can form an overgrowth of bacteria called Staphylococcus aureus, or staph. Changing your tampon at least every eight hours reduces the likelihood of developing TSS. It can also help to relieve any vaginal discomfort.

Symptoms of TSS include:

  • A sudden high fever
  • Low blood pressure (hypotension)
  • Vomiting or diarrhea
  • A rash resembling a sunburn
  • Confusion
  • Muscle aches
  • Redness of your eyes, mouth and throat
  • Seizures
  • Headaches

This is not to say that tampons aren’t safe; just try to replace them frequently. Using a tampon with absorbency that adheres to your menstrual flow is important. For example, at the end of your cycle, use a light tampon instead of a super.


Using a tampon for vaginal discharge is a no-go

You may notice an increase in your vaginal discharge at certain times of the month—that’s normal! Consider using a panty liner instead of a tampon to avoid irritation. There’s nothing more uncomfortable than removing a dry tampon. If you are feeling apprehensive that the discharge you are experiencing is abnormal, make an appointment with your gynecologist to help ease any concerns.


Forgetting a tampon in your body is possible

Perhaps you are unsure if you removed a tampon before inserting a new one—we’ve all been there! Your body will give you a few indications that something isn’t quite right. You may notice a rash or irritation around your vaginal area, or it may be painful to urinate. Your discharge may be a different color and perhaps accompanied by an odor.

If you think you may have left a tampon in and can’t find the string, go to an urgent care facility or make an appointment with your gynecologist immediately to carefully remove the tampon and treat for a possible infection.


Changing your tampon each time you use the bathroom is encouraged

It is not medically necessary to change your tampon each time you go to the bathroom. However, changing it as often as possible can help avoid irritation and discomfort.


Rethink your scented tampons

It is normal to feel insecure about your overall scent when menstruating. However, purchasing fragranced tampons to feel refreshed down there is not recommended. This could throw off your pH balance and affect your overall vaginal health. Some women can use scented tampons and other specialty products like refreshing sprays and have no issues. We are all different.


As unique women, we discover ways that make our periods more manageable. Continue the routine that is best for you, with these precautionary tips in mind.


If you just can’t stand tampons, try a menstrual cup. Many women prefer this device over tampons.

— Kristin Yates, D.O.

Share this post