A week with tampon

How I pass one bleeding week with these cotton bullets.

All my life, sanitary pads are my go to whenever I have my menstruation. My mother never introduces other blood prevention alternatives. Well, to be fair, we rarely talk about ‘growing-up-as-a-woman’ anyway.

Sometimes, my aunt would talk about what was it like on her teenage period. She didn’t use sanitary pads, but kind of cloth that was put on your underwear. I just call this sanitary napkins, because basically they are the same as pads, only in fabric form.

I got the impression that sanitary napkins were inconvenient, because you have to wash it. Imagining how my life was like whenever the bloody week, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have the patience to wash the clothes. I’d just threw them away, with all the blood and others.

Years later after my first period, I joined a feminist discussion group and the world was like open sesame for me. I read articles about menstrual cup and tampons. Wow, all this time I thought tampon was like a towel. What an uneducated swine I was. (School’s sex ed, you suck! How dare you never told about THESE alternatives before?)

My introduction to tampons are purely out of curiousity. I saw one at Century and it was on discount. So I bought it and couldn’t wait for my period to come, for the sake of experiment.

If you girls never wear tampon even for once in your life, I’d like to share my experience with you -with the pros and cons of it. My tampons are from Natracare (Century only sell this brand) with regular absorbance (6 to 9 grams).

(Note: uncredited comments are personal)

Day 1:

It took me quite some times to figure out how to put tampon in. Looking from its anatomy, I was sure that it should be inserted to the vagina. Natracare’s instruction also said the same thing, even though I still have questions in my head such as;

  1. How deep should I put it in?
  2. How do I know it’s deep enough?
  3. How do I know it’s in the right hole?
A tampon for those who haven’t seen one.

Mind you, women have three holes down there: the urethra, vagina, and anus. Menstrual blood flows from the vagina; while urine from urethra. So if I put it in the wrong hole then there will be no point in using tampon.

Anyway, once I inserted it, all the worries were gone. It was easy to figure out which one is the vagina and which is urethra, all about the feelings.

Other than the beginner confusion, I didn’t have significant problems on this day. If you wonder if I felt anything different in there, the answer is no. It was too small to make you feel something. That far, I was pleased.

Day 2:

The challenge began today. First, I had to remove my tampon by pulling it out from my vagina. It was a mess, like blood covered bullet. I washed it thoroughly before wrapping it in a used paper and put it in the bin.

Anatomy of tampon drawn by me

It wasn’t the end of my agony. Some people might not know that second day of period is the worst. That’s when cramps and heavy blood flow choose to come together, hand in hand.

My worries of the day were:

  1. Would blood seeps through the tampon and stain my undies?
  2. How often should I change my tampon to prevent smearing?

After few contemplations, decided to brought along 3 tampons and change every 4 hours. I left my house for work while incessantly prayed for unsmeared pants.

I was so deep in my writing that I forgot to change my tampon, after probably 5 hours. Realization came to my mind because of uncomfortable sticky feeling between my thighs. I just knew the blood had gone pass poor lil’ tampon. I quickly packed my things and went to bathroom.

Blood. Blood everywhere. My poor undies was smeared in drops of blood that I could feel my heart stopped. I quickly changed to a new tampon and rushed home. Lucky I wore black pants that day so the reds weren’t visible from the outside.

One thing I learned today is to get super or super plus absorbance tampons which could contain more than 12 grams of blood. Only for heavy flow days.

Since it was not sold here (yet) so I decided to use both tampon and pad for the night. Literally wasn’t up to bloody mess in the morning.

Oh, and a new problem came to mind: how do you dispose used tampons in public bathroom? Of course you don’t want people to see bloody bullet-like thing in the trashcan. Lucky I had some papers to wrap my tampon, what if not?

More importantly, I wonder how people dispose tampons anyway. What’s the proper way? Do they wash it before or just….ditch it the way it is!

Day 3

I was getting used to tampon life. Today’s flow wasn’t as heavy as before, but I did still get smeared panties, though not as much as the second day’s.

Maybe I need to put pantyliner too. It could help much on disposing tampon too. I could wrap it in the pantyliner, then in paper, before throwing it away.

I noticed that at nights, tampon made me feel more comfortable. It felt like normal nights where no blood flew from between my thighs.

Smear problem was still intact. Maybe I didn’t insert it in the right hole? Or was it normal?

Day 4

Aside from drops of unwanted blood on my underwear, tampon could be my new bestfriend. It made me feel more free and flexible, also more adjustable than sanitary pads.

With pads, I have to ensure that it was in the right position. If you put it too high or too low, it won’t catch all the blood or worse, folded. Thus, you don’t only get smeared pants but also smeared pads that are very annoying to throw away.

My cousin visited and saw my tampon box. She took it and said, “Isn’t this expensive?”

I replied, “It was on discount. But yes, still expensive.”

FYI, I bought this for Rp 92,000 (US$ 6,8). While sanitary pads are priced around Rp 30,000 (US$ 2,24) -almost one third the price. No wonder sanitary pads are such a hit.

Day 5:

End of period. Still had little amount of blood dripping out but my tampon could take it all.

So, how do I feel about tampons now? I love it, even though I’m still figuring out how to prevent bloods dropping from the little tail.

Let me do a short review on pros:

  1. Give you more freedom
  2. Won’t change position no matter how rough you move everyday
  3. If we talk about shape, I think most people are not familiar with tampons. So if this thing slip out of your bag, people won’t mind. Unlike sanitary pads, which most people recognize, so they’ll know that you’re on your period if they see you with it.
  4. No rash. Seriously, I once got a bad rash on my thighs from sanitary pads. My doctor told me that it was because I used the winged ones, which scratch my thighs. With tampon, I don’t have to worry about this.

While the cons are:

  1. So pricey. You could get 3 box of sanitary pads for 1 box of tampon!
  2. Absorbance. Sanitary pads are also divided to regular and heavy flow types but hey.. I think I change tampons more often than pads.
  3. Application. Personally, I don’t find this problematic, but not other people. The act of inserting something to your vagina means you’d lose your virginity (which is dumb, but there are others who think like this). Many women would reject this idea, afraid of ‘losing your purity over tampon.’
    Only my cat stared at me in a strange way when I used my tampon. I shushed her and said, “It’s a human thing and you won’t understand. Just look away, I’m not doing anything weird.”
    She walked away. Cats don’t judge you; humans do.
  4. Disposal. This could be my personal problem because apparently there’s a Wikihow on throwing away your tampon.

There have been many debates and articles on sanitary pads vs tampons vs menstrual cups. I also want to try the latter, but it’s more expensive than tampon!

Menstrual cups are very rare here, and when I found one online, it was for Rp 500 ribu (US$ 37,5) which could also interpreted as a big FUCK YOU from my bank account. What a shame.

What I learn from this experiment? That being a woman is hard and expensive. I mean, we don’t ask for menstruation! If I could, I would very much like to remove my ovary thus I could be menstruation-free all my life.

But it’s impossible, so we can go the easy way by lowering the tax and price on forementioned products. Also please provide more of it! Aside from Century, I rarely see tampons (well, there was one in a Transmart but in other branches I couldn’t find it). Menstrual cups are only available online right now.

It’s ridiculous, to think how limited our choice is regarding sanitary products!

Or the simplest way is, stop being judgemental about what a woman choose to wear on her period.

Wearing tampon or menstrual cup doesn’t mean you’re not a virgin anymore (wth is virginity anyway?), so girls, expand your territory and choose whatever suits you best! Tampon? Go for it! Menstrual cup? Buy it (and for me too)! Sanitary pads? It’s everywhere!

Go and try everything you want, your body your choice!