Period talk can be a little awkward. It really shouldn’t be. Sometimes we feel too embarrassed to ask questions or ask for help because really, the world makes us feel like girls are just expected to know everything about periods. Well, don’t you worry! We have the perfect lady to fill you in on all you need to know about tampons and periods.
Helen Keeble, Co-Founder of Umi Health and a Pelvic Health Physiotherapist has worked with female athletes from all backgrounds, from the complete beginner to professionals, so this lady knows what she’s talking about. Check out what she had to say:
You might have heard this summer that astoundingly, a Tampax TV advert was removed from the Irish airwaves due to the officials receiving some complaints at its contents. The advert explained, wait for it, how to use a tampon correctly……
Tampax originally created the TV ad in response to research carried out that found 42% who use applicator tampons do not insert the applicator correctly and 79% experience discomfort whilst wearing tampons.
Girls and women have been unknowingly shamed by society for having a period for as long as we can remember. When in actual fact, once your periods start and fall into their natural rhythm (can take up to 2 years), having a period is a crucial outward sign that everything is functioning well in your body. To put it simply, having a period means you are healthy.
Girls, there is NOTHING to be ashamed or embarrassed about when it comes to having a period and using sanitary products. The average age for a girl to start her periods in Ireland is 12-13 years old, but anywhere from 8-16 years old is considered normal too. A normal cycle can range anywhere from roughly 22-34 days. We will then all have this normal bodily function happening, on average, once per month for approximately 40 years so there’s no time to be feeling ashamed about it!
There are many sanitary products to choose from out there including; tampons (applicator and non-applicator), towels, liners, pads, specially designed underwear, and cups. Which one to use is entirely up to you and most girls will try a few until they find their favorite and might even use a mixture of products as the flow during each period changes.
Seeing as the TV, for now, won’t allow the advert to be played, I wanted to share with you my top tips for inserting & removing tampons.
Tips for starting off using/inserting a tampon;
- Insert it when in a comfortable position (this can be hard in some toilet spaces!) eg sitting on the toilet or standing with one leg up on the toilet.
- Holding your breath if you’re concentrating or feeling a bit worried can clench the pelvic floor muscles which will make it more difficult to insert.
- Take your time – don’t put yourself under any pressure.
- If using a non-applicator tampon, consider using a water-based lubricant on the tip.
- With one hand, part your labia, with the other hand push the tampon in gently but firmly aiming slightly backward rather than directly upward.
- If you can feel or are aware of the tampon at all, try pushing it in a little further the tampon itself needs to be inserted into the vagina beyond the pelvic floor muscles (at the entrance to the vagina) so it can sit comfortably in the vaginal canal. This is usually at least 5cm.
Top tips for removing a tampon
- Again, remove it when in a comfortable position (this can be hard in some toilet spaces!) eg sitting on the toilet or standing with one leg up on the toilet.
- Holding your breath if you’re concentrating or feeling a bit worried or experiencing any pain will clench the pelvic floor muscles which will make it more difficult to remove.
- Take your time – don’t put yourself under any pressure – it will definitely come out! It is impossible for a tampon to ‘get lost’.
- Pull gently and firmly on the string.
- The drier the tampon, the more uncomfortable it will be to remove so ensure you are using the right absorbency for your flow and for how often you change it.
Remember, it’s not uncommon to experience some discomfort the first few times you insert and remove a tampon, especially if you have not had sex yet. Keep following the top tips above if you want to use tampons & it will get easier.
I have seen lots of girls before where sometimes it just feels impossible to get a tampon in, this can be a sign of vaginismus – a condition whereby your pelvic floor muscles tense in response to something being inserted rather than relaxing in order to allow it in. This can then also cause problems when trying to have sex. This is a commonly treated condition, so if you find that it feels there is a total block when using a tampon, even after following my top tips, then choose a different sanitary product for the time being that doesn’t require it being inserted into the vagina and then it might be worth giving your pelvic floor muscles some TLC.
Over at www.umi-health.com we have a FREE online pelvic health resource – Essentials by Umi – that will be invaluable for you to learn all about your pelvic floor muscles and what to do if any problems arise.
You can keep up with all that Helen does on her Instagram: @helenkeeblephysio
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