I have a bizarre confession to make: In April I'll be turning 30, and I have yet to use a tampon. It’s nuts, I know. But I have my reasons. I know what you're probably thinking: How can I be so against something I've never actually tried, right? Well, here's the thing — I have tried them! In fact, I have tried wearing a tampon exactly twice in my life. And both experiences were traumatizing to say the least.
The first time I got my period was a pretty dramatic time. I was 13, and my mom wasn't in the best of moods. So when I told her that I thought I was getting my period, she threw a bag of crazy thick pads at me that I had no idea how to even put on. These pads were so thick they practically felt like diapers. I literally cried when I realized I was pretty much going to have to wear these suckers for the rest of my life.
As for tampons, they weren't even an option in my traditional Latino household. My parents were convinced that using them would pop my cherry (in other words, take my virginity). Eventually, they realized this was just a silly myth. So, in high school I finally decided to give tampons a shot. At this point I had already developed an attachment to my ultra-thick pads. My period was heavy, so I figured nothing else would be able to handle it. But my friends were all already using tampons and pressured me to finally try them. They were constantly bragging about the perks that come with wearing tampons, like being able to swim while on your period or wear a thong. I got tired of them making me feel like an old-fashioned prude so I gave in. Let's just say it wasn’t pretty.
The first time I tried wearing a tampon, I was on day three or four of my period, and it was so light, I was borderline spotting. Anyone else who's ever worn a tampon before will see where this is going, but because no one had explained this stuff to me before, I had no idea what would happen. After five minutes of freaking out because the tampon was so dry I literally couldn't take it out, I was done.
I went back to using pads after that but was finally introduced to Always Ultra Thin. These things are so comfortable, I still swear by them to this day. I'm telling you, this was a game changer. Of course, my friends still joked about me still sticking to pads, but I didn't care. That was until I found myself literally forced to try tampons again.
This time, I was in the middle of my first day interning in the beauty department of a major women's magazine, when I suddenly and unexpectedly got my period. The girl I was working with also happened to be a friend of mine, so when I told her what was happening, she quickly passed me a tampon.
"Um, I don't use these," I remember telling her. "I don't have any pads on me. "Give it a try, it's better than nothing," she said.
It had been years since the last time I put a tampon up my vag. I was now 22. I figured, how bad could this be? The answer: bad. Not only was my flow strangely heavy, but it practically squirted out the tampon after I had already inserted it. Apparently, I didn’t insert it all the way in, so my flow literally pushed the tampon out of me. Yes, you read that right. Next thing I knew, there was a tampon and a puddle of my blood on the bathroom stall floor.
Did I mention I was wearing a skirt? I wish I could tell you I have other reasons for avoiding tampons other than the fact that I almost got a tampon stuck inside me and practically passed out the first time and that the second time the tampon literally fell out of me, but no. I'm not paranoid about Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS). It's a medical situation that doesn't happen nearly as often as my Dominican mom claims. I'm not crazy athletic, so I'm willing to skip out on the gym and yoga class the three days I actually have a flow. I'm just willing to concede that tampons and I have tried — and failed — to make it work together.
Sure, I’ve had my moments where I thought about giving tampons another chance, especially when it comes to going to the beach while on my period or being more flexible when it comes to planning my vacations. But unfortunately, I haven’t been able to bring myself to give them another shot.
You’d think most of my friends would give me crap about this, but as I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned that there actually are other women out there just like myself who are also not about that tampon life. In fact, probably half of my girlfriends don’t use them for a number of reasons like crazy traumatic experiences, paranoia surrounding TSS, or just preferring pads. This proves to me that tampons really aren’t for everyone. If they work for you, great. If not, that’s okay too.
I think it's all about your comfort level. You do YOU. If I were to have a daughter, I’d encourage her to use whatever she chooses. If she wanted to use tampons, we’d figure out how to get her to use them. If not, she’d have other options like pads, menstrual cups, and whatever they’ll have invented by then. It would be her body, so the decision to wear or not wear tampons would be hers to make.
As for me, I'll stick to pads. I wouldn't wish my two traumatic experiences on my worst enemy. Plus, I like pads. They don't bother me, I don't find them uncomfortable, and it's just not a problem. What can I say? I'm just really loyal to those sanitation napkins.