Let’s stop tamp-ering with the evidence
The use of tampons isn’t indicative of a liberal, Westernised culture impinging on local conservatism. They just fit much better into a purse! Ready for more OTT tampon myths? Let’s go.
MYTH 1: WEARING A TAMPON BREAKS YOUR VIRGINITY
UNCOVERED: In conservative cultures, the primary indicator of the loss of virginity would be the breaking of the hymen (a thin fleshy tissue inside the vagina) upon penetration. If you wear a tampon before you are sexually active, the hymen can be broken; so, according to the archaic hymen indicator, you are not a virgin.
But a tampon isn’t the only thing that can break your hymen: horseback riding, ballet, gymnastics and even biking are very likely to cause a similar tear, although you wouldn’t call that breaking your virginity, would you? Let’s all remember there’s a reason women stopped riding side-saddle.
MYTH 2: WEARING A TAMPON IS SO PAINFUL, YOU’LL WANT TO FAINT
UNCOVERED: There is some discomfort when inserting a tampon, but it doesn’t last. “Much of the irritation is caused when the tampon touches the vaginal introitus (the entrance to your vagina),” says Dr. Nilani Kaluarachi, MB ChB (UK), D.R.C.O.G (UK), DFFP (UK). As the vaginal introitus is exposed to the outside environment, its sensitivity is high. But once your tampon has passed into your vaginal canal, there is often no discomfort. Applicators (imagine the look and motion of a syringe) ensure that the tampon is inserted quickly and painlessly, causing as little discomfort as necessary.
Remember, pads can cause discomfort too, in the form of chafing and heat rash. Tampons can act as a temporary relief. Plus, there’s less odour. Yuck, but true.
MYTH 3: TAMPONS WILL CAUSE TOXIC SHOCK SYNDROME (TSS)
UNCOVERED: TSS is caused as a result of Staphylococcus aureus (staph) or group A streptococcus (strep) bacteria getting into your bloodstream. “Symptoms include high fever, low blood pressure and a widespread flat rash, which is often pronounced on your palms and soles,” says Dr. Kaluarachi. TSS is linked to the use of tampons, but instances have been extremely rare. The likelihood of being diagnosed with TSS can increase with the irresponsible use of tampons — like if you leave the same one in for two weeks (ew).
Top tip: Keeping any foreign body inside you for abnormal periods of time can cause your system to go into shock. Tampons are no different. Female diaphragms, for instance, have also been linked to TSS, albeit with lesser frequency.
MYTH 4: I HAVE TO CHANGE MY TAMPON EVERY TIME I PEE OR POO
UNCOVERED: You can change your tampon every time you go to the loo, but it’s not necessary. The only reason you’d need to change your tampon is if urine or fecal matter get on the string that hangs down. Avoid this by holding it gently in your fingers and out of the range of fire. (Don’t pull too hard or you’ll inadvertently remove your tampon.)
MYTH 5: TAMPONS CAN GET LOST INSIDE MY BODY
UNCOVERED: No. Tampons cannot wiggle their way(!) into places you can’t see. What can happen is that the string that hangs down from the tampon is shoved so deep inside your vaginal canal, you cannot reach it to pull your tampon out.
The two primary ways the string can become inaccessible are if you ‘double up’ on your tampons (put in two at a time, one after the other) or you have sex while wearing a tampon.The takeaway: Tampons are supposed to be worn one at a time, and preferably with no sex involved. Nothing will get lost.
This article was originally published as ‘TAMP-ERING’ in the July 2016 issue of Cosmopolitan Sri Lanka. For more health tips, subscribe now and get a free July issue.
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