Where periods are concerned, women are often taught from a young age to be as discreet as possible. Interestingly, other bodily functions such as coughing or sneezing come with no stigma than a customary “bless you”. But it only takes a mention of ‘periods’ or ‘menstruation’ to get people looking at the ceiling or shifting uncomfortably in their seats.

An important question to be addressed is ‘why should women be ashamed of their periods in the first place?’. Advertising campaigns remain a part of the problem, projecting an illusion that women should have periods in silence and go through the associated pain subtly. Ill-conceived and unrealistic, these campaigns always seem to reinforce the damaging ideal of the fairytale that periods come with blue liquid and ladies skipping into the sunset.

Tampon Shaming Statistics

A survey by Thinx (period-proof underwear) of 1,500 women revealed that 73% of them hide their sanitary products when going to the bathroom. Another survey carried out by international charity, Water Aid, revealed that 62% of the 2,000 women surveyed will rather attend a formal occasion with a large coffee stain on themselves than carry a sanitary product.

But there is another problem…

After you get over the world scrutinizing your body and your skin for the changes you undergo at that time of the month and get used to hiding your periods so nobody uses it to judge you, you enter the world of Tampon Shaming.

Tampon shaming is when people judge you for your tampon usage and choices. Tampon shaming goes beyond the stares from people who do not have periods to include other women sneering at your sanitary product of choice. Water Aid’s survey also revealed that 65% of women hide tampons up their sleeves or will carry their whole bag when going to the bathroom. Only 16% of the women surveyed revealed that they will be confident asking the occupant of the next-door toilet cubicle for a spare tampon.

Tampon Myths

“Tampons can get lost inside you” “Tampons can cause toxic shock syndrome” It can be so hard to separate facts from fiction when dealing with tampons. About 43 million women use tampons in the United States and every woman using tampons monthly would have to use an average of 11,000 in a lifetime. In the quest to stop tampon shaming which partly developed from various myths that plague tampon usage, here are a few misconceptions that need to be promptly addressed.

Altering Size and Shape – Contrary to popular belief, the size of your tampon does not alter the shape of your vagina. Tampon sizes depend mainly on the heaviness of your flow which is different for every woman. So for the record, using larger tampons will not alter the shape or size of your vagina.

Dioxins and Asbestos – Tampons are made by purifying and cleaning the fibers used in manufacturing to remove the residues within these raw materials. However, the U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA) considers the methods of Elemental Chlorine Free (ECF) or Total Chlorine Free (TCF) used in making tampons safe and dioxin free. The FDA has also found no evidence of asbestos present in any tampon sold in the U.S and has reported that asbestos is not an ingredient in tampons.

Virginity myth- Using tampons does not change your virginity status. The whole cultural concept of ‘losing your virginity’ is premised on breaking your ‘hymen’ by penetrative vaginal sex. Tampons are just big enough to carry out the function of absorbing blood but small enough to fit perfectly within the vagina. You remain a ‘virgin’ if you have never had intercourse and using a tampon does not affect your virginity.

Missing Tampons – Having a tampon string just hanging out of your vagina can seem so delicate and scary. Some people believe that tampons could travel up your vagina into your cervix/uterus and tampon strings (used to pull out the used tampon) could disappear and make it impossible to take out a tampon. Firstly, at the end of the vagina is the cervix which only has a small opening to allow blood and semen through so the possibility of a tampon getting lost in your cervix is next to none.

If you ever lose your tampon string, the most important thing is to not panic. Just squat down, (you can try pushing a little – like you are about to poop), reach and feel inside your vagina (with clean fingers) to feel for the tampon string, grab it with your fingers and pull it out.

Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS) – TSS is one of the greatest fears of using tampons. All vaginal products put you at risk of getting TSS which is caused by strains of bacteria called Staphylococcus aureus that gets into the blood and release toxins. TSS is very rare and only 1 in 100,000 menstruating people develop it in the United States. This does not change the fact that TSS is a life-threatening condition, but it simply means that having TSS is not the consequence for using a tampon. Be cautious with your use and simply use a tampon correctly by changing your tampon every four – eight hours depending on the heaviness of your flow (so you do not give bacteria the time to flourish).

The Cost of a Period

Having a period every month for one-third of your life is annoying enough for every woman out there, but how much does having a period will cost you over a lifetime? Dealing with periods involves several sanitary products like pads, tampons and menstrual cups. As sanitary products go, tampons are necessary for some women and provide more convenience and comfort. Designed for more comfort and fewer chances of staining your favorite bottoms, it’s just not right for tampons to be sold and used with so much shame and judgment.

Why not skip your periods altogether? Save yourself mental stress, time, discomfort and money by trying out Pandia Health’s completely safe services guaranteed to keep you period-free. Pandia Health’s solution was engineered to make women’s lives easier by providing a birth control prescription which also serves for keeping your period at bay so you can focus on achieving all your daily tasks with no worries.

The views expressed in this article intend to inform and induce conversation. They are the views of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of Pandia Health, and are for informational purposes only, even if and to the extent that this article features the advice of physicians and medical practitioners. This article is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment, and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice.