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Should Tween Girls Use Tampons?

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Question: Should Tween Girls Use Tampons?
Answer: When tween girls learn about menstruation, they may ask questions about pads, and whether or not they can use tampons. While many preteens girls opt for menstruation pads when they first get their periods, some may prefer to use tampons instead. Girls who are active in sports, or want to swim at summer camp, may worry that menstrual pads will interfere with their activities.

Deciding whether or not a girl can use tampons depends on two things: is she responsible enough to use tampons safely and is she OK with idea of using them in the first place?

What are Tampons?

Tampons are used by girls and women to provide protection when they are menstruating. Tampons are cylinder-shaped or oblong and are made of compacted, soft, cotton-like material. The walls of the vagina hold the tampon in place, and a string attached to the bottom of the tampon is used to remove the tampon when it's absorbed or for when it's time for a replacement.

Many girls are turned off by the thought of using tampons, and those girls probably shouldn't use tampons until they are emotionally ready to do so. Others may be ready at a young age, and as long as they understand how to use tampons safely they may find them preferable to wearing pads.

Like pads, tampons need to be removed and replaced every few hours, depending on how heavy the period is. A girl with a heavy flow may have to replace her tampon every 2-4 hours. Even if her flow is light, tampons should be removed at least every 5 hours, just to be safe.

There are many different types of tampons on the market, and like pads they are sized according to absorbency. Super-absorbent tampons are often thicker and longer than regular tampons or tampons intended for a light flow. Girls and teens should opt for slender tampons, because they are smaller, easier to insert, remove and manage.

Some tampons come with cardboard or plastic applicators that help the tampon move up the vagina and into place. Other tampons have stick applicators or none at all. If there is no applicator, girls must use their fingertips to guide the tampon into place.

How to Use Tampons

Learning how to insert and remove a tampon will take time, and every girl is nervous at first. Reassure your daughter that when inserted properly, tampons do not hurt. Typically, information is provided in each package of tampons, explaining how to easily insert the tampon, remove it, and throw it away. Go over these instructions with your daughter, and ask if she has any questions regarding the information or the diagrams that go with them.

It's not a bad idea to give your daughter a small hand mirror to use, so that she can look at and find the vaginal opening before attempting to insert the tampon.

It's also important that girls understand that they should wash their hands with soap before and after inserting or removing a tampon.

A serious disease called Toxic Shock Syndrome has been associated with using tampons, but you should know that this disease is very rare. Nonetheless, girls should know about the possibility, and be aware of symptoms of Toxic Shock Syndrome if they chose to use tampons. They can also minimize the risk of Toxic Shock Syndrome by using tampons safely and by practicing good hygiene.
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