'At 15, I finally managed to use a tampon. 10 minutes later, I felt an awful pain.'

In movies, when a young woman gets her first period, as well as getting blood everywhere (the back of her pants, the chair, the roof, the dog etc.) her mother, or a friend, offer her a knowing look, and then hands her a tampon with precisely no instructions.

No mention of the angle. Or perhaps a foot on the toilet seat. Or how far up precisely it’s supposed to go. No one gets out a notebook and points to exactly the hole one ought to be aiming for, the hole, which I might add, the young woman has used the least over the course of her lifetime.

She’s intuitively just meant to know how to manoeuvre some weird cotton sponge into her nether regions at the same time that blood is coming out of it and GUESS WHAT?

Sometimes she gets it wrong. 

But no one tells you about those stories. Mostly because they’re confronting and people beg you to please SHHHHH once you start.

But I shan’t be shushed any longer.

It was a very hot December day when I decided to go into battle with my mortal enemy – The Tampon.

I was 15, I was perioding quite heavily (sorry but that word obviously needs to be a verb), and I wanted to go for a swim very badly.

Now, I wasn’t an idiot. I knew I couldn’t swim with the nappy/surfboard contraption that was sitting in my underpants. I’d float for goodness sake.

So I went to the cupboard and got reacquainted with the bullet-looking thing.

You see, it just wouldn’t go in.

This was probably because I was pushing it up straight where my bladder sits. Or was shaking so much out of nervousness that it was actually ending up hanging out of my left nostril.

But this day it was time.

I just… put it in.

It took 12 seconds, just like the movies. And I was f*cking stoked.


I bragged about it. Texting friends. Telling my sister. All before I jumped into the pool.

I was a FREE and LIBERATED MODERN woman. LOOK AT ME GO. Swimming on my period. JUST TRY AND STOP ME NOW.

And then I, eventually, got in.



It went poof.

Like a balloon. But inside my terrified vagina.

The reason I’d done it in record time was because I hadn’t really done it at all. I’d put about one quarter of the tampon in, and left the rest hanging out. Like a plug. 

But that isn’t at all how it works. As I’d learned on a particularly educational bus trip involving a water bottle, once the tampon touches water, it blows up… to at least three times its original size.

When I’d discovered that I’d throw it at my friend for reasons that are unclear and it got her in the eye and SHE NEARLY WENT BLIND FROM A TAMPON.

That’s how dangerous they are.

I yelled very loudly, in serious pain, and ran back into the bathroom to extract a very, er, wet floatie looking thing that was now sitting inside my bikini bottoms.

“Well now who’s liberated,” it whispered to me, laughing as I wrapped it in toilet paper and put it in the bin.

For the rest of my teens I didn’t go near tampons, believing they were out to get me mostly because they were.

Eventually we became reacquainted when I was about 20, but I was still… suspicious.

And any teenager who finds themselves terrified of a) tampons and b) their own anatomy, you’re not alone.

I…. literally nearly blew myself up.