health

Truth time: How long do you really leave your tampon in for?

Women. We’re secretly a rather lax bunch.

Sure, as teens we all read those scary information brochures that said to never leave a tampon in for more than “three to four hours”, but we’re also human. And unless it’s day one to day three, we have better stuff to do. And sometimes, we forget. And others? We just can’t really… be… well, bothered.

‘I’m on Day Four,’ we silently tell ourselves mid-Netflix binge. ‘I’m barely even bleeding. It can wait.’

“Okay real talk, I regularly leave my tampon in for about eight hours,” one of the women I work with admitted this week.

“My record is 1o hours. If it’s late in the week, that is,” another added.

See? We’re lazy. And forgetful.

DON’T LIE. We’re all in this together. One big happy family, all joined by our shedding uterine walls. And between us, there are so many stories like this: “One time I forgot I had a tampon up there altogether. I found it a full week later during sex.”

Admittedly I haven’t been there. But also, this is a no judgement zone and you do you, lady.

But when we routinely surpass that strict four-hour time limit, there’s always that niggling voice in the back of our mind, whispering: ‘But what about Toxic Shock Syndrome?’

“I STRESS about TSS ALL the time,” one of my coworkers told me. “Like if I get a mild headache during my period I’m like OMG THIS IS IT.”

“I am so confused about TSS,” says another. “One article says I should be concerned and the other is like it doesn’t exist. Does it actually exist? HELP.”

Help I shall, reader friends. Help I shall.

We spoke to Dr Ginni Mansberg, a GP and television presenter, to dispel some of the myths about tampon usage. First of all – are we supposed to wake up during the night to change our tampon?

The short answer: “Hell no.”

“Eight hours is fine. If you only sleep for eight hours, you’re fine,” Dr Mansberg told Mamamia.

If you’re currently screaming BUT WHAT IF I DIE? Don’t worry, I hear you. I also don’t want you to die because of a freakin’ tampon. Oh, by the way, the chances are, “you” are either a person who was using tampons in the 1980s, or have a mother who was using tampons in the 1980s.

ADVERTISEMENT

Let me explain.

The hysteria about tampons – and this generation’s reluctance to use them – can actually be traced back about thirty years, when doctors believed women were falling ill with golden staph infections caused by leaving tampons in for over four hours.

Listen: Oh, thank goodness! There’s a product to glue your vagina shut. Post continues after audio.

We now know, thanks to this cool thing called Science, those doctors were almost definitely wrong.

“There was a particular type of synthetic tampon around at the time that increased the risk that is no longer on the market,” Dr Mansberg concedes, but added that: “Now we actually think [golden staph] may not have anything to do with tampons altogether.

“We can now safely say that leaving a tampon in for eight hours does not grow golden staph.”

So, why is it that tampon companies are reluctant to advertise this freely? Why don’t they tell us to chuck it in and go about our days free of stress? In the simplest terms, they don’t want to put themselves at any risk of a lawsuit, even if that risk is in the tens of thousands, or tens of millions.

But ladies, take the expert’s advice: Eight hours ‘up there’ is so fine.

In fact, Dr Mansberg encourages all women – young women especially – to begin using tampons over pads. And this starts with mothers educating their daughters about what does and doesn’t constitute safe tampon usage.

“I’d love to see more girls using tampons full stop,” she said. “They’re actually so much better than pads, not to mention more comfortable.”

Myth. Busted.

Loved this? We have plenty of period-related content. Because PERIODS.

00:00 / ???