Poor sweet things.
A girl (no, technically woman)-having witch wrote in:
Witches: Talk to me about tampons. My 15 year old just started getting her period a few months ago. She starts high school gym swim soon. I went to an all girls school with no pool, so this is a situation I've only read about in books or seen in Hallmark movies. Is she too young? What do I buy for a beginner? How do I teach her? I taught myself in college - my mom certainly never talked to me about tampons.
Witches with young women (or who remember being young women) replied:
“Definitely not too young. I started using tampons shortly after getting my period at 11. I might suggest buying a ‘slim’ tampon. If she has heavy flow, she will have to change it relatively frequently because they are only in regular absorbency. I think I would probably go for a tampon with an applicator at this early stage as she might be uncomfortable putting her fingers all up inside her. I prefer OB now, but I didn't start until college with them. However, if you think she is comfortable with that, it might be easier because she can be as gentle as she wants. As for helping her, my mom didn't use tampons, but she told me to read the instructions in the packet carefully and we could talk if there were any questions. I did that, attentively alone at 11, and it was fine. The first few times might take a while, so be patient and maybe have her do it at home, not just before gym class.”
“I started using them at 12. Game changer for me. I haven’t used a tampon in almost 5 years, but when I did, I always preferred Playtex sport because they’re a little smaller and shorter, which I think would work great for a 15 year old on swim team.”
“I have a 15 year old who just switched to tampons though it did take a couple of tries. A few ideas: mine likes the plastic applicator best (sorry, environment) and go for the skinniest version you can find (I think Kotex U brand has one, with the snazzy black/color pop new branding), and have her try it when she's on the heavier day for the period. I realize that might not all work before the swim practice... I'm sure she could also get a ‘cold/stomachache’ for the first day if she doesn't have it down by then.”
“I am not 15 but I think the Tampax pearls are the easiest. Plastic and round. And try the purple ones that are for light days.”
“I'd just be totally honest with her and say, ‘You know what? I didn't start using tampons until much later, but here are the basics’ and then, when in doubt, YouTube:
“I remember going through an entire box while alone trying to figure it out. Make sure she gets it up high enough - I remember leaving it partway out (and mayyyyybe with some of the applicator on? Poor 12 year old me) and it made me feel so sick to my stomach. So she's not too young and you're doing her right by making sure she's set up for success!”
“One of my teenage girls had no problem using tampons, and the other one either refuses to use them or can't figure out how to, she won't tell me. I couldn't use tampons until I lost my virginity because I couldn't get anything in there, and it sucked. I assumed that was from my DES exposure (high doses of estrogen when my mother was pregnant with me, which cause reproductive system problems), but now I'm a little worried she has the same thing. She does NOT want to have a gyn exam, either. I had when I was her age because of the DES exposure.”
“Not too young! I also remember poring over the detailed line drawing in the package, trying to figure it out. I think the Captain Morgan’s position, with one foot up on the toilet, is also good for starters to get it up in there correctly.”
“For all you with menstruating youngins, take a tampon from each type you try and put them all in a bowl of water to show how they expand and absorb. It’s totally the most fun simple science experiment (and shouldn’t some fun come out of decades of periods?) I used to do this to show my friends how OBs were far superior to thin ones that leak all the time. My daughter is only 4 but I’m already contemplating what age a reusable silicone cup is doable!”
“If a tampon is just not workable for any reason at all—too hard to master or for girls with sensory issues, there are Thinx-style bathing suits, and some even can store another pad in there for extra protection. Those can be lifesavers.”
“My 15 year old daughter got her 1st period when she was 13 year old and we were on vacation. We had to use the vending machine, which only sold tampons. Trial by fire, baby! It took two tries with my guidance and she has used them ever since. She uses pads overnight and liners as her period wanes. Specifically, I recommend Playtex Sport tampons because they are super easy to use and conceal. My daughter also uses Thinx on the heavier days of her period as a back-up. Make sure to talk about Toxic Shock Syndrome and the importance of keeping track of tampons and changing them often. I knew someone who had TSS and it was truly touch and go for a while, but she lived.”
“Our high school would let girls walk around the pool back in the day if they did not feel like swimming on their periods, thought I always felt like it was a bit equivalent to the red tent of yore - mark all the bleeding women! Also tell her she must change it right after swimming class is over because of infection risks from the pool water, because she may not think of that.”
“I got my period at 11 and first tried to use a tampon at age 12 while on a family beach vacation in Thailand. Let’s just say I went missing for several hours and ultimately ended up fainting on the hard bathroom floor from bending over so much trying to read instructions in Thai while trying to insert a dry, applicator-less tampon. So wish my mom had been as thoughtful and cool as you are! I started using them successfully at 16, when my boarding school roommate took me into the bathroom and talked me through the process while standing outside the stall.”
“Ahhh small vagina issues. Meanwhile mine inhales tampons like Cookie Monster. I remember being horrified during my teen years when a friend's mom told us she had to use two tampons. Now I'm like, bitch please…”
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