health

10 Things About Tampons You Should Know If You’re A Lady (Or Any Kind Of Person, Really)

by Alex Cavallo

Ladies get periods. They aren’t fun, they definitely aren’t always convenient, but they’re a fact of life.

It’s not your fault you have a wide-set vagina and a heavy flow! Luckily, there are tampons to help a sister out. Remember the world of pads before you were introduced to tampons?

Never. Going. Back. Tampons are a necessity, and can be a girl’s best friend.

But how much do you actually know about the portable little lifesavers you likely use every month?

Read up on the 10 things you should know about tampons. Some of them are bloody cool.

Heh.

1. They May Live Next To The Toilet, But They Can't Go Down The Toilet

1. They May Live Next To The Toilet, But They Can't Go Down The Toilet
Laura Caseley

There are many things you can flush. Toilet paper, poop, your dead goldfish Bubbles. But you can’t flush tampons. Well, you can—and many women do—but you shouldn’t. Tampons might keep your pipes from leaking but they can completely clog up your home or office pipes. Send too many tampons on a flume ride down the porcelain throne and you could end up doing some real damage to your septic system. It might be a little gross, but the proper way to dispose of a used tampon is to wrap it up in toilet paper and throw it in the garbage. Hey, could be worse—imagine you couldn’t flush poop?

2. Scented Tampons Actually Kind of Stink

2. Scented Tampons Actually Kind of Stink
Laura Caseley

Feeling not so fresh…down there? It happens. Especially when Aunt Flo is in town for yet another not-so-welcome visit. Summer’s Eve ads would have you believe that the best solution is to perfume the whole area but, actually, scented tampons can end up making the, er, situation worse. The products used to make them scented can kill the good bacteria in your vagina. This can result in pesky conditions like yeast infections and bacterial vaginosis, the latter of which can end up making your lady parts smell like, well, dearly departed Bubbles. (RIP)

3. The Average American Woman Uses A Lot of Tampons In Their Life. Like, A Lot.

3. The Average American Woman Uses A Lot of Tampons In Their Life. Like, A Lot.
Laura Caseley

Does it feel like you’re constantly buying tampons? Well, that’s because you kind of are. The average American woman will use 16,000 tampons in her lifetime. That’s a lot of Tampax.

4. Tampons Are Like Snowflakes

4. Tampons Are Like Snowflakes
Laura Caseley

In that they’re not all the same.  While they are all inserted the same way (if you don’t know how that works, please consult a doctor, or your mother), once they’re up there different types of tampons expand differently. There are two main types of tampons: coiled and rectangular. Once inserted, coiled tampons expand in a circular manner, while rectangular tampons expand from side to side and from top to bottom. Why should you care? Because vaginas are like snowflakes too, so one of the two types might be more comfortable to wear and remove.

5. Tampons Can Go Bad

5. Tampons Can Go Bad
Laura Caseley

Not like, start smoking Marlboro Reds at age 10 and grow up to rob convenience stores as a career criminal bad. But they can expire. Tampons have an expiration date (usually around 5 years or so—check the box) and should be thrown away once it has passed. Expired tampons can grow bacteria and mold. We don’t think we have to explain why you wouldn’t want to insert bacteria or mold into your vagina. If we do, please consult a doctor, or your mother.

6. Tampons Are Pink Taxed

6. Tampons Are Pink Taxed
Laura Caseley

Ugh, right? Just as women pay for “lady versions” of everyday items like razors (WTF), we also pay an extra tax on feminine hygiene products, because they’re deemed “luxury items.” Luxury? Any woman who’s ever spent an afternoon wrapped around a heating pad in fetal position knows there ain’t nothing luxurious about it.

7. Your Vagina Is Like a Swimming Pool

7. Your Vagina Is Like a Swimming Pool
Laura Caseley

In that it has specific pH levels that need to be maintained, and if they get messed up, it’s not safe to go swimming. Okay, that analogy kind of went off the rails, but, as little intruders in the vagina, tampons can throw off the balance of its pH levels. If that happens, you can develop some non-serious but very uncomfortable infections.

8. There's No Need To Put a Tracking Device On Your Tampon

8. There's No Need To Put a Tracking Device On Your Tampon
Laura Caseley

Because, unlike an iPhone, a tampon cannot get lost. Internet forums are filled with panic-inducing horror stories about women who have “lost” tampons inside themselves, but that’s simply not possible. Your vagina is not a bottomless pit—it has walls, and a tampon cannot go rogue and make an impromptu visit to your spleen. A tampon can get stuck at the top of the vagina, however, next to the cervix. If that happens, and the string gets tangled up around it, it can be hard to find and reach, hence the horror stories about lost tampons. Don’t panic: It’s in there and with a little patience and some digging, you can find it.

9. MacGyver Could Use Some Tampons In His Arsenal

9. MacGyver Could Use Some Tampons In His Arsenal
Laura Caseley

Tampons are a very versatile product. Aside from making sure you don’t ruin your favorite pair of white jeans, tampons can also serve a variety of alternative purposes. They’re great in a pinch for first aid, from nosebleeds to gunshots (hopefully you never have to put the latter to the test), and survivalists can use them as little fire starters and water filters!  

10. You Don't Actually Have To Use A Tampon At All

10. You Don't Actually Have To Use A Tampon At All
Laura Caseley

No, we’re not suggesting you just let Aunt Flo have the run of the place (but, hey, you do you). Most adult ladies prefer tampons as their go-to feminine product, but there are a ton of other options out there. There are pads, of course, but things like Thinx (period panties!), Flex (a disposable menstrual disc that sits just past the vaginal canal), and the DivaCup (an actual cup that sits inside your vagina and collects blood) are gaining popularity. What a time to be alive.