Super, mini or maxi? With or without applicator? Organic or not? The white sticks come in various shapes and sizes. Here are a few things to keep in mind when choosing a tampon.
Big or small?
All tampons have an indicator for the amount of blood they can handle: one, two or three drops. Also indicated as mini, normal and super. This has nothing to do with the size of your vagina, but everything with the amount of blood coming out. If you’re using a tampon for the first time, choose the smallest size and replace it every few hours.
Every menstruation is different. Some women bleed for five days, others only for two days. Hence why not everybody uses the same size of tampons. Also, all bodies are different, so the same size won’t be comfortable for everyone.
House brand or fancy brand?
Does the cheaper house brand feel good? No leaking? Then don’t get tempted by shiny packages and the promise of a silky feeling. In the end, it doesn’t really matter.
That does depend on who you ask of course. One woman will go for the more expensive brand, the other is happy with the cheaper one. It depends on what you want to pay, but more importantly, on what’s most comfortable for your body.
With or without applicator?
Some women find it easy to insert a tampon, for others it’s a bit harder. Or maybe you don’t like to touch your vagina with your fingers? There’s a solution: the applicator. The tampon is the same as a regular one, but the applicator that comes with it doubles the size. This makes them easy to recognise by the long box. In countries such as Holland and Germany applicator tampons aren’t very popular, whereas in the UK they’re a common sight and in the United States they’re the most frequently used type of tampons.
Tampons with applicators do cause lots more waste though. Not only the applicator itself (which is usually made from plastic, although there are also flushable cardboard applicators), but also the wrapping. Plus extra production costs. A greener option is the reusable tampon applicator, which saves up to 12,000 plastic applicators per woman. Use, rinse, dry and store again until it’s time for the next tampon change; a perfect solution for some, too much of a hassle for others.
Organic or not?
It’s causing a lot of commotion: ordinary tampons would contain toxins and loads of plastics. Since there’s no mandatory ingredients list, what exactly the tampons are made of remains a well-kept secret; quite strange for products that are worn internally. No wonder many new ‘green’ tampon brands are launched.
But don’t be fooled by an eco-looking packaging alone: real organic tampons are made from organic cotton (cotton is one of the most heavily sprayed crops in the world and traces of those pesticides can be found in the final product) and bleached with hydrogen peroxide (instead of chlorine). Environmentally friendly menstruating isn’t only better for your vagina, but also for the environment.
What’s with plastic waste?
Nowadays, there’s a lot to do about plastics and periods. Because most menstrual products (yes, even those organic cotton tampons) come wrapped in single-use plastic covers. When using disposable products, that soon adds up: every cycle, a woman throws about 25 tampons or sanitary pads in the thrash. That’s 325 hygienic products a year. Multiply this by all menstruating women and you literally get a big bloody mess.
To reduce plastic waste, this month is Plastic Free July, with lots of recources and ideas to help people reduce single-use plastic. Perhaps a good time to think about how much your menstrual management adds to the plastic pollution? Is it maybe time to try something different, like washable tampons, sponge tampons or perhaps even a menstrual cup? Green menstruators go for #zerowaste #plasticfree and #organic.