health

There's a good chance you're using tampons wrong, according to a gynaecologist.

So, you've got the whole tampon thing down pat, huh? You pop it in, wait a few hours, do the old switcheroo and pop in a fresh one. Easy as pie. Right?

Well, we hate to be the bearer of bad news (particularly this year), but it turns out there are actually a whole lotta different ways you could be using your tampons wrong. In fact, you'll probably learn a thing or two below (we sure did), because we hit up the President of the National Association of Specialist Obstetricians & Gynaecologists (NASOG), Associate Professor Gino Pecoraro and asked him EVERYTHING.

Watch: For your own enjoyment, please watch these men explain tampons. Post continues below. 


Video via Mamamia.

So grab your tampons and let's go!

1. You're inserting your tampon wrong.

Alright, let's start with the basics. Because let's face it - most of us learnt how to insert a tampon by reading the tiny leaflet inside the box. "Learning to use or insert a tampon can be a bit of a rite of passage for a girl and sometimes, instructions in the pack just don’t cut it," said Prof Pecoraro. 

Truth.

Listen to Mamamia's podcast for your face, You Beauty, where we talk about period skincare. Post continues below. 

"Luckily, in the days of the information superhighway, things like YouTube can help young women who might not have the benefit of an older sister or mother to help them, or simply those who prefer a little more anonymity. A quick search shows lots of videos demonstrating proper insertion and removal techniques of tampons using various models."

So how do you know if you've inserted it wrong? Well, for starters, it'll feel pretty uncomfortable. 

"If inserted correctly, a tampon should not be painful and once used to it, barely noticeable. The string should be clearly visible outside the opening of the vagina and it can be used to remove the tampon if it becomes uncomfortable in any way."

2. You're doubling down and using two tampons at once, 'cause #heavyflow.

Don't... do this. "I don’t recommend inserting two tampons at once, no matter how heavy a woman’s flow is. It may push the first tampon so far inside the vagina that it becomes difficult to retreat, requiring a trip to the doctor." ARGH. 

No good.

Instead, look for a higher absorbency tampons or pads. "There are different sizes and absorbency capabilities of commercially available tampon. Something like a 'super' tampon may be more appropriate for a woman with a heavy flow."

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However, if you're finding that you need to change tampons really frequently or if you have bleeding past the string-end of the tampon (Prof Pecoraro calls this 'flooding'), then it's probably best to seek medical advice to make sure everything is working normally.

3. You just change it once or twice a day.

Even if you have a light flow, you need to make sure you change that guy regularly. "Frequent changing of tampons is important both from a hygiene perspective, but also from an infection risk," explained Prof Pecoraro.

Bacteria love warm and moist places, making your tampon prime real estate. So keep it fresh. It can be hard to keep track of when you put your last one in, but if you're on the forgetful side of things, just set an alarm on your phone for every four hours or so. That way you'll easily keep track of when you inserted it.

4. You're sleeping with a tampon in.

While it's generally safe to leave a tampon in for up to eight hours, anything more than this can increase the risk of developing toxic shock syndrome (TSS). So, if you're a gal who loves her sleep, maybe opt for a pad, instead. "I usually suggest that if you’re going to sleep for longer than this period of time, a pad might be preferred," said Prof Pecoraro. 

"Most manufacturers and government health agencies recommend that a tampon be changed every four to eight hours to ensure maximum absorbency, but also to decrease the risk of developing an infection. A general rule of thumb is to change the tampon every six hours or more frequently if the flow is heavy or it makes you feel more comfortable," suggested Prof. Pecoraro.  

And how do you know if it's, like, ready to be taken out? 

"You can tell if a tampon is full and ready to come out by gently tugging on the string - if it moves easily it is probably full and ready to change. If it offers resistance, you can probably leave it in for a while longer, but not beyond the recommended time frame."

5. You forget to take your tampon out.

Yep. This is a thing that happens. Sounds like a freaking horror story, but it's actually more common than you might think. If you find that there's a less-than-pleasant odour hanging around downstairs, this may be the culprit. 

"A forgotten tampon can increase the risk of a serious infectious disease caused by the staph bacteria leading to the dangerous toxic shock syndrome. If you forget to take a tampon out, remove it as soon as you remember." 

If you can't feel a string, chances are it's now inside you (yay!), so you're going to need to use a clean finger to feel around for the tampon and pull it out. "Have a look at the tampon to see if it looks normal or if there is an unusual colour or odour coming from it," said Prof. Pecoraro. If you're worried at all, or you're struggling to pull it out, take a trip to your doctor.

Once removed, you may experience 'offensive' discharge or develop low pelvic pain/ache, and "fever, increased heart rate and even a skin rash". These are all signs of a developing infection and it is very important if any of these symptoms occur that you "see a doctor urgently, to both have the tampon removed and start antibiotics to treat any infection".

Sheesh. Let's just start using those phone alarms, okay?!

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6. You always pop a tampon in the day after your period, just in case.

Instead of making things barren as hell down there (not good) and pulling a dry piece of cotton out of your vagina (also not good), opt for a liner instead.

7. You're using the wrong absorbency.

If you're not 100 percent on the difference between the absorbencies, usually "a high absorbency tampon will be thicker, with more of the absorbent material in it," while a low-flow tampon will usually be smaller in diameter.

"Most tampons are the same length and it is either the material used or the diameter that makes a tampon a high-absorbency one," explained Prof. Pecoraro.  

It's important to keep in mind that you want to find the tampon that offers the right absorbency for your flow, rather than the longer absorbency (because TSS and everything we discussed above). So while super absorbency tampons might be the jam on days one and two of your cycle, you may want to switch to a regular or light-absorbency product toward the end of the week.

8. You wash your hands after insertion but never before.

Remember to wash yo' mitts! Before AND after! They're full of germs. Bacteria. Gross stuff. And you want none of that on your tampon or in your vagina - so keep it clean, people.

9. You never change your tampon when you pee.

Friends, just change the freakin' thing. While there may not be a medical reason behind it, having a wet, pee-sodden string hanging around does not sound like a good time. And yes, we can't believe we're saying this, but - ABSOLUTELY change your tampon after you poo. If that string picks up any bacteria, it could easily result in infection.Kay thx.

10. You let your tampons live in your handbag among your bobby pins and 5,000 other things.

Do you know what doesn't belong in your vagina? Little bits of dust, debris and makeup from the bottom of your handbag. 

While it's easy to just throw them in, tampon wrappers play a very special role in keeping out dust, dirt and contaminants out. When this wrapping rips, the cotton could pick up little bits of everything you don't want in your vagina. Keep 'em safe.

Feature image: Getty

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