Fitness Tips

What is a Tampon? A Complete Guide for Beginners

What is Tampon

Tampons are hygiene products used by women during menstruation to absorb the menstrual flow. They are small, compact pads made of cotton, rayon or other absorbent materials that are inserted into the vagina.

Tampons likely seem unfamiliar and intimidating to first-time users. This comprehensive guide will provide a complete overview on what exactly tampons are, how to use them, the different types available, and their pros and cons. Read on to become a tampon expert!

What is a Tampon?

A tampon is a snugly-fitted plug made of absorbent material that is inserted into the vagina to soak up menstrual blood. It consists of a small cylindrical or cone-shaped piece of cotton, rayon or a blend of both materials. A removal string is attached to the base to enable easy and safe removal.

Tampons expand when in contact with fluid and conform to the shape of the vagina. This blocks and absorbs the blood flow. The absorbent material soaks up the menstrual fluid and prevents leaks. Tampons provide an alternative to pads and menstrual cups for period protection.

How Do Tampons Work?

Tampons collect menstrual fluid inside the vaginal canal with the help of their ultra-absorbent material. The snug fit blocks flow from leaking onto clothes or bedding. The tampon absorbs flow into its fibers and the excess collects in the removal string. This prevents spills or stains during the wearing period.

Tampons should be changed every 4-8 hours depending on flow. Once saturated, leakage can occur if worn for too long. The string aids removal of the used tampon which then disposes of the absorbed fluid. Properly inserted tampons are comfortable and cannot be felt when positioned correctly inside the vagina.

Different Types of Tampons

Tampons come in a range of sizes, shapes and absorbency levels:

  • Regular – For average flow, 6-9g absorbency
  • Super – For heavy flow, 9-12g absorbency
  • Super plus – For very heavy flow, 12-15g absorbency
  • Mini or junior – For light flow in teens
  • Plastic – With plastic applicator for easy insertion
  • Cardboard – Cheaper, cardboard applicator varieties
  • Digital – No applicator, with finger insertion
  • Organic – Made of 100% organic cotton

Always select the lowest absorbency needed for your flow. Consider switching to a higher absorbency at night or heavy flow days if leakage occurs with regular ones.

How to Insert a Tampon Correctly?

Follow these steps for correctly inserting a tampon:

  1. Always wash hands thoroughly before handling a tampon.
  2. Choose your absorbency level based on flow – regular, super or super plus. Remove the tampon from its applicator tube.
  3. Get into a comfortable position – propping one foot on the toilet seat often works best.
  4. Gently insert the applicator into the vaginal opening and push up towards your lower back.
  5. Press the inner tube to release the tampon and withdraw the applicator carefully.
  6. The string will hang out of the vaginal opening for removal later.
  7. Ensure it is correctly placed and comfortable. You should not feel it if positioned right.
  8. Wash hands after insertion. Change tampons every 4-8 hours.

It may take a few tries to get comfortable. Relax, go slow and practice tampon insertion at home first before using one out.

Pros and Cons of Using Tampons

Tampons provide both advantages and disadvantages compared to pads:


  • Greater mobility and flexibility
  • Avoid bulky pads during exercise
  • No leaks or visible stains
  • Can swim, wear tight clothes on period days
  • Comfortable if inserted correctly
  • Compact and easy to carry


  • Risk of Toxic Shock Syndrome if left in too long
  • Vaginal dryness or irritation
  • Need to be changed more frequently than pads
  • Improper insertion can cause pain/discomfort
  • Not suitable for light flows
  • Difficulty removing a dry tampon

Talk to your doctor about whether tampons are suitable for you. They are generally safe if used correctly and changed regularly.

Frequently Asked Questions about Tampons

How long can you keep a tampon in?

Tampons should only be kept in for 4-8 hours maximum. Leaving one in for longer increases infection risks. Do not keep a tampon in for more than 8 hours or overnight.

Can tampons get lost inside you?

It is extremely rare for a properly inserted tampon to get lost or stuck. The removal string ensures it stays reachable. If the string does happen to slip inside, bear down with your pelvic muscles during removal to bring it into reach.

Do tampons hurt when you first use them?

You may feel some mild discomfort initially when inserting a tampon. Use lubricant, go slow and relax your vaginal muscles. Consider a junior or slim tampon for your first use. Discomfort usually resolves after the first few uses.

Can tampons take your virginity?

No, using tampons does not cause you to lose your virginity. The hymen may slightly stretch during insertion but intactness is not affected by tampons.

How do you know when to change a tampon?

Change your tampon every 4-8 hours, even if flow is light. Replace sooner if leaking occurs as that means it is saturated. Aim for the lowest absorbency that prevents any leaks.


Tampons offer women reliable period protection in a portable, easy-to-use form. Learning how to insert and remove them comfortably takes some practice. Select the proper absorbency, change them regularly, and maintain good hygiene for a safe experience. Tampons are a convenient option that can make periods much more comfortable and worry-free once you get the hang of them!



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