Tampon– That’s not the plural of Tempo Truck; neither it is any term associated with Tsunami, Hurricane or Cyclone. It’s a cotton gauge that is used to absorb Body Fluid Discharge. More openly, it is a sanitary protection used to absorb the bleeding flow.
A Tampon is any day the best way of Protection against the Monthly Fluid Discharge as compared to the ST (Sanitary Towel). All one has to do is insert it through Vagina, and let it sit snug till it saturates itself till its turn to replace. Anyone who hasn’t yet used one, maybe finding it impossible to read through the contents- but wait, it’s not at all inconvenient or pain inducing. On the contrary, once placed properly, which is not a Rocket Science; you would even forget having one sitting inside your body- literally.
Is that too technical? Then, imagine a cotton wool mass placed directly upon a bleeding wound; one whose extending fibre filaments don’t stick to the wound- drying up, resulting in artificial wound that causes pain when pulled out.
Since, Blood is odorless while flowing in body arteries and veins; only gives away that obnoxious smell when comes in contact with the outer environment. Using a Tampon is quite hygienic as far as that stink goes. Neither would you smell fishy anymore; nor would you have to brave the smell while changing pads. And no, it doesn’t scrape or peel your tender skin. If anything at all, it saves you from those dreadful and nasty rashes that happen due to constant rubbing of your pubic skin and thighs against the wet, humid and simultaneously going dry pad and underwear. A Pad doesn’t keep evenly wet or dry. It gets really dry at the ends and wet at the center. Worst, the underwear keeps getting smudged and becomes rag like.
The earlier and older versions of this protection were available with an inserting cardboard roll. One had to keep that roll tucked inside a bit and push the cotton mass inside and then, pull the roll out..!! Not convenient? Not anymore. The instructions as given on the leaflet (inside every individual box) “for use” are very simple. The cotton mass now is so stuffed in itself that it retains its firmness till it gets wet (i.e., once it’s inside your body)
Scanned Image of the Leaflet inside the "o.b." Tampons Box- available in India
- How would one know when to replace it with a fresh one? The best way to know when its time to replace a tampon is- It would start sliding out; usually happens at the 2nd and 3rd day- not on the 1st day. If not changed, it would start becoming uncomfortable, and if yet not changed, would mess up you clothes. 4th or the consecutive days when the flow is so less, and is more fluid in nature instead of the clots or blood thickened, the cotton mass keeps sliding outwards giving a false indication that it may need to be change.
- How would one know then? The best way- whenever in doubt is to pull the attached cord slightly. If it’s hard to pull, it needs more time to get saturated. If it slides easily, it needs a replacement.
- The string starts to become wet; delay that, and it gets stained and then of course the garments.
- What if the cord breaks? A Tampon once saturated would slide out automatically- no matter what. It can then be pulled out. The other way is to squat and exert a small pressure outward and the wet cotton mass would glide out- this works even if it may not be saturated. So, breathe. Breaking of cord is exceptional again.
- Never ever place or push the tampon back once you have taken it out. Even the mute Tampon resists to get inside, when its wet- even slightly; perhaps, it’s aware of the Infection implications. Discard it.
- The 1st day usually is heavy on flow; so, one would have to change the absorbent a little frequently. The safe assumption would be 45 minutes to an hour less for a fresh replacement. For example- if you may be changing the Tampon after 4- 5 hours, the first day, it would be safe to replace it within 3 hours. Keep in mind that the bleeding is on inside your body, it travels at a slower speed to come out initially. A Tampon sits right where the blood gets an outlet to discharge itself, at cervix; quickly absorbs the accumulated fluid and becomes saturated a little faster. Hence, the 1st Tampon would need a quicker replacement.
- Use of Tampon also reduces the number of active hours of bleeding to upto 24 hours (less). This happens since the cotton sits very close to the cervix (opening of uterus) and absorbs the fluid directly before it starts to flow out of the body which is usually 5- 6 hours. In the process, it takes a day off.
- Since its placement is so close to the bleeding area, resulting in direct absorption; the germs or the micro- organisms don’t get their nasty change to infest and breed. The blood gets soaked up directly without being exposed to the outer environment and hence, don’t experience that temperature change too.
Scanned Image of the Leaflet inside the "o.b." Tampons Box- available in India
A Word of Caution: If not carefully used and changed frequently, it gives way to TSS. One may never be able to use Tampon again. Girls often complete their period even in single Tampon when the flow is light- completely forbidden to do so. It’s a fatal disease which is caused due to bacterial infestation. However, it is more common in menstruating women with or without the use of a Tampon. TSS stands for Toxic Shock Syndrome.
I wish a few more brands were available here in India too..
A few not so well known facts:
- It doesn’t bleed continuously. More often then not, it’s after an interval which is not s regular.
- It may clot. While Tampon users may not feel that anymore, while using an ST, a girl feels highly uncomfortable because of the wetness and a little stickiness on the pad for sometime. You would know when it may be clotting- it pains slightly lighter than cramps.
- Your diet, mental state and physical fitness are all going to cast their influence on this “bloody affair”. If you are stressed the 28 days gap is bound to shorten. If you are no crash diet, the chances are you may go blank. And both of these are not healthy situation. Period is not only a result of Hormonal activity; it further trims the endometrial lining. Any storage of extra tissue that is useless is certainly not a preferred situation.
- The irregularity is rather the Rule; however, it should not be erratic. During the Menarche (onset) and Menopause (offset), the irregularity is the only Rule. Yet, please be on lookout of any uncomfortable or not seemingly right symptom. While this is a very natural and beautiful phenomenon, the lack of knowledge leads to loads of implications. Please visit your Gynecologist regularly and keep her updated. The same is to be followed even otherwise.
It is completely ethical and FINE morally, socially and even health-wise to use this humble and docile cotton gauge.
The issue of Chastity
The Hymen is more like a Vestigial Organ; one, that has now been elevated to a position of Morality or Chastity Definer. Heavens will not fall even if it’s the Tampon that may- if at all i.e., affect its being- when it actually does not. Its being gets affected by numerous other reasons like sporting, hurt or accident. Ask a woman whose Hymen is so tightly placed that she had had to undergo surgery to be able to initiate a healthy sexual and or married life (to be able to copulate and reproduce- BOTH); about it’s redundant significance. (Alas, child birth in India, still would have to be associated with marriage; no two ways)
I have met several women who had harped upon the forbidden use of this gauge. They had bitten their tongue to reflect upon their utter horror, shame and dismay about the mention of the subject. One of them had further stated that let her daughter’s husband decide what protection she may want to have. It was way back when I was all of 21 years old that my then current landlady was arranging for her daughter’s wedding. While all the elder ladies sat gossiping and teasing the girl- who was barely 18, I had prompted her mother to definitely pack some STs since she was to be married in an arranged setup. All of them were shocked in unison, as if I had said the un- mentionable!! But, what is? Who had decided upon it? Source and its authenticity- please.
I urge you all- to kindly step forward and give your daughters/siblings and everyone around you know and can talk about this- a fresh life.
On a Lighter Note: This is not an advertorial column or endorsement article. I have only included the Brand that is available in India. I guess we are moving in a backward trend. The last of the Tampons advertisement was in a magazine that was some 30 or 40 years old. I had a couple of those lying in the bookshelf at my home.
Proctor & Gamble Hygiene and Health Care Limited, the Indian subsidiary of Cincinnati-based Procter & Gamble Co, announced its entry into the Tampon segment of the disposable sanitary protection market with the launch of its international brand “Tampax” in Chennai sometime in April this year.