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Using a Tampon

It is important that your child knows that tampons are an option for managing their period.

Introduction

There are a number of period products that a person can use to manage their period. This includes tampons. Some people prefer to use tampons as they:

  • can’t feel them in their underwear
  • make it more comfortable to be active and play sport
  • can be worn while swimming
  • are smaller and more discreet to carry around

While tampons may be a little trickier to use than pads, it is important that your child knows that tampons are an option for managing their period. Your child may start by using pads. Then, as they get more comfortable with their period, they may progress to using tampons.

Not everyone will be able to use a tampon. That is OK.  However, it is important to provide people with disability with education about period product options so they can make a decision about which product they would like to use. For more information on these different options go to Period Product Options.

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Most tampons come wrapped in plastic. This wrapper is removed before inserting the cotton part of the tampon into the vagina. The string is left hanging outside the body. These types of tampons are inserted by using the middle or forefinger to push the tampon into the vagina. To help your child remember the steps to using a tampon you can use a social story like the one below.

  1. Got to the bathroom and shut the door
  2. Wash your hands with soap and water
  3. Pull down your underwear
  4. Pull the plastic tab around the tampon. Take off the plastic and put it in the bin
  5. Pull the string so it becomes long and straight
  6. Sit on the toilet or stand in a squatted position.
  7. Put the pointed end of the tampon into your vagina.
  8. Use your pointer or middle finger to push the tampon into the vagina. Push until the second knuckle of your finger reaches the outside of your vagina.
  9. Leave the string hanging outside your vagina
  10. Remove your finger
  11. Put underwear back on. Make sure the tampon string is inside your underwear.
  12. Wash your hands with soap and water

Sometimes it can be difficult to insert a tampon. To make inserting a tampon easier, your child can put a little bit of water-based lubricant on the tip of the tampon.

Tampons need to be removed every 4 to 8 hours. This is important as it helps to prevent toxic shock syndrome. It can be helpful to set a reminder on your child’s phone or watch to tell them when it is time to change their tampon.

It is important that your child learns to dispose of their used tampons correctly. They should not be flushed down the toilet as this can cause blockages in the plumbing.

Used tampons should be placed in a sanitary disposal bin or garbage bin.  If this is not available, used tampons should be wrapped up in toilet and placed in a paper or plastic bag until it can be put in a bin at a later time.

You can add this step to a social story or use an image of a sanitary bin to help remind your child what they should do with their used tampon. You can also help at home by ensuring the bathroom has a bin to put used tampons in.

Conversation Starters

We are going to the pool this weekend. I know you have your period. If you want I can show you how to use a tampon so you can go swimming and not have to worry about your period?
Can you please put the pads and tampons in the bathroom draw? Your mum/sister uses tampons instead of pads when she has her period. Do you want me to show you what they look like?
You are getting really good at changing your pad when you have your period. Would you like to see some of the other things you can use when you have your period?

Strategies for you to try

Modelling

If you menstruate and you feel comfortable doing so, it can be helpful to show your child your period blood and how you use a tampon. Reassure them that this is a normal part of being a woman. Explain that they will also have a period as they grow up. Show them how to remove a tampon and how to put in a new one.

Social stories and visual schedules

Use social stories and visual schedules like the one above to remind your child how to change their tampon. These can be put on the back of the toilet door at home or a copy can be kept in your child’s school bag.

You can also set an alarm on your child’s watch or phone to remind them when it is time to change their tampon.

Period kits

Put together a period kit for your child to keep in their school bag. Get them to choose a fun bag or case to hold their special period things. In the bag put:
• spare pads and tampons
• a spare pair of underwear
• a paper or small plastic bag for dirty underwear
• visual schedule for changing a tampon
• pain relief (if appropriate)
• a nice treat like lip gloss

Changing your tampon is private

It is also important to teach your child that changing their tampon is private. Changing a tampon involves their private body parts and should only happen in a private place. For more information on talking to your child about private and public behaviours go to Private and Public behaviours.
It can also be good to identify a few key people that your child can talk to about their period. Explain to your child that while periods are a normal part of life some people find them embarrassing to talk about in public. It is best to talk about your period with people you trust in a place where everyone feels comfortable.

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