Tampons for Young Teens?

I am 14 years old and have had my period for a year now. I have been using pads since I started and I absolutely HATE them. I asked my mom if I could use tampons…..and of course……she said no because I am too young.
I am planning to ask the doctor at my next appointment. What do doctors usually say about this?
And do you think that if I ask my doctor my mom will get mad at me for bringing it up?
I am not in a situation where I can sneak or buy them myself (my mom is overprotective and looks through all of my stuff). And I can’t ask my aunts because they dont have their periods anymore.
I’m tired of being treated like I child and I need answers from doctors!
Thanks both of you!!!

Dear Kay (not your real name),

This is a a great question and one that’s shared by many young women. Thanks for bringing it out into the open. Sounds like your mom is like most moms — she’s passing on the information she learned as a teen (probably passed down from her mom) and is doing her best to keep you healthy.

But we get it. Pads can feel bulky and uncomfortable. Yuck! Who wants to feel like they’re wearing a diaper?

The good news is that girls your age can use tampons safely. It all comes down to being comfortable with your body and knowing what to expect. But first you’ll want to talk to your mom about her concerns and share some expert information with her, like this article from kidshealth.org. Explain your reasons for wanting to use tampons clearly, and we bet she’ll hear you. If she still has doubts, by all means take the question to your family doctor. It’s hard to know whether she will get mad but even if she does, that’s okay. You are entitled to ask your doctor anything you need to know about your body and to bring up any questions or concerns you may have about it. It’s not only your right, it’s your responsibility.

That said, here are some tips to help make the move from pads to tampons easy:

Some girls find that using a slender size, applicator-style tampon makes it easier to insert at first. Follow the directions that come with the box, and try it first on a heavier flow day so the tampon slips in easier. When placed correctly, you shouldn’t be able to feel it at all.

You might worry that a tampon can get lost inside, but tampons can’t just randomly wander around. The vagina holds it in place and the opening of the cervix (located at the top of the vagina) is too tiny for a tampon to get through. There’s only one place a tampon can go — and that’s out the way it came in.

Tampons have a string attached to one end that stays outside a girl’s body and can be used to remove the tampon at any time.

A tampon needs to be changed every 4 to 6 hours or when it’s saturated with blood. You’ll need to remember when it’s time to change or you may get spotting or leakage — or leave it in too long, which is a bad idea (see TSS below). Pull gently on the string until the tampon comes out, wrap it in toilet paper, and throw it in the trash. Don’t flush a tampon down the toilet — tampons can cause problems in plumbing systems.

If you can’t find the string, don’t worry! The tampon is still there. You’ll need to reach in with your fingers to find the string. It may take a minute, but hang in there and you’ll find it. Squat down and push like you are trying to have a bowel movement. Reach inside the vagina and scoop out the tampon. It may be messy, but it works.

Never put a tampon in and leave it in all day or all night, thinking that you won’t need to change it because your period is so light. This puts you at risk for a RARE but dangerous — and sometimes life-threatening — disease called toxic shock syndrome (TSS). TSS is caused by a bacterial infection that may occur when using super-absorbent tampons that are left in longer than recommended.

It makes good sense to use a pad overnight to avoid any risk of leaving a tampon in too long (not to mention leaking while you sleep).

And BTW, you may have heard the myth that says virgins cannot use tampons. Having sex has nothing to do with using tampons. Some mothers want to protect their daughters from anything related to insertion into the vagina, but this is an old wives’ tale. Virgins can insert tampons into the vagina just like women who aren’t virgins. The tampon may tear the hymen, but a torn hymen can also occur from sports, horseback riding and other activities. Sex is one way, but far from the only way.

We hope this makes you and your mom more comfortable about the safety issues concerning the use of tampons at your age — thanks for the question. We love our teen readers!

~ The Mamas





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Rachel Zahn, MD is a pediatrician turned health writer who had three kids during medical school and pediatric training—crazy, huh?

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One response to “Tampons for Young Teens?”

  1. Kailey Wickord

    Thank you so much! I love this sight and thank you fornthe advice. My mom had a super heavy flow when she was young, so she had a hysterectomy when she was 35 wich was like in 1998 or so. So she doesnt really know the changes they have made in tampons. I am so ready to try them but she is not ready for me to grow up. But I dont blame her, she never used them because she thought you had to be 18 or something like that.
    Now I am just waiting for her to schedule my doctor appointment so I can ask! ;)
    Anyways, sorry this is long, but thanks again!

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