Many girls may not be comfortable with the idea or the physical act of inserting a tampon. Still, it’s important to give them the knowledge and information to do so right away so they can start using them when they are ready. Many girls drop out of sports or other activities when they start having periods because of discomfort, embarrassment, or the hassle factor, leading to a loss of physical fitness and confidence – the exact opposite of what they need at this stage.
Tampons come in lots of shapes and sizes. Some come with applicators, and some without. There are tampons for light flow, tampons for heavy flow (super plus), and tampons for everything in between with different absorbency levels. You can reassure her that she probably won’t feel the tampon once it’s inserted in the right place. For the first time, you might suggest she try a “slim” tampon on a heavy flow day (with a pantyliner as a backup), so the tampon gets saturated and can be easily removed.
Tampons can be slightly uncomfortable to remove if they are mostly dry. Starting out slow will also help her better understand her flow and how absorbent she needs a tampon to be on different days of her period (she can tell based on how much of the tampon – if any - is still white when she removes it).
Tampon applicators are small plastic or cardboard tubes that help insert the tampon and push it into the correct and most comfortable part of the vagina. Reusable applicators are a great new “green” option to keep landfill waste to a minimum. Some tampons come without an applicator and are gently inserted into the vagina with fingers – always using clean hands. It would be a good idea to look at the tampon application instructions together with her so she can better understand how to insert the tampons with pictures, ask questions, and if you both are unsure about something, you can research it together.
If your daughter has tried tampons and found them to be uncomfortable, she might try using a less absorbent or smaller size, often called “slim”, “junior”, or “slender” tampons. She can also try different brands, inserting it using lubrication or at a different angle, or checking the tampon instructions that came with the box to make sure it is inserted properly (it may not be in far enough). An important note: if she needs lubrication, she should only use a water-based vaginal lubricant, never petroleum jelly or lotion since these other products can create a sticky breeding ground for vaginal infections. All tampons have a string that hangs outside your body so you can remove it comfortably and safely. You should stress the importance of changing tampons regularly - leaving a tampon in for longer than 6 to 8 hours could result in a serious infection called toxic shock syndrome (TSS). However, tampons are a very safe and discrete option when used properly, especially if she is very active or likes to swim (sports tampons do exist!). Scented tampons are available, but they are more likely to cause your body irritation or an allergic reaction.