Should young girls be allowed to use tampons?

I heard a discussion on the Sirius radio show “Whatever with Alexis and Jennifer” about whether or not young girls should be allowed to wear tampons. Alexis and Jennifer had talked to a mom who was bothered by the invasiveness of a tampon. She believed it was too much like sex and not appropriate for a teenage girl.

Alexis and Jennifer disagreed with this depiction and felt like tampons have absolutely nothing to do with sex and are essential to young girls being able to go on with their regular activities while having their periods. They felt that restricting young girls to pads made them suffer through their periods and would keep them from participating comfortably in their normal physical activities.

There was also discussion about whether young girls were responsible enough to remember to change their tampon. You never hear people talk about Toxic Shock Syndrome anymore but I guess that is the concern. I would think there would be natural consequences – ie embarrassing situations – if they didn’t change regularly.

I haven’t had to confront this yet with my oldest daughter but I am guessing I am two years away from it. So I am interested in how you guys handled with your daughters.

I started my period in the sixth grade but I don’t think I used a tampon until that summer. I had planned to go swimming at Stone Mountain with a group of girls and started that day. I didn’t think I could go and my mom was like “What are you talking about. Just wear a tampon.” So she goes and hands me this giant super OB tampon (no applicator) and is like there you go. I had no idea what to do with it and was particularly freaked out by the lack of applicator.  She was incredulous that I couldn’t make it work and finally put together that 12-year-olds need the slim ones not the super ones. So we went to the store for a slender Playtex with an applicator.  Overall, it was not a great first introduction to tampons. I think I wore them off and on depending on my activity after that.  My mom left it up to me. (She was insistent that you NEVER sleep in them.)

So do you think tampons are appropriate for teenagers to wear? Did you let your daughters wear them? Did you worry about Toxic Shock Syndrome at all or is that all 1980s? Did you monitor if they changed regularly – or if they aren’t responsible enough to change it then they shouldn’t use them?

What was your first experience with tampons like? Did your mom hand you a super too? Did it go well?

100 comments Add your comment

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malleesmom

February 23rd, 2011
5:54 am

I have one daughter approaching the age/issue. She has not started yet but most likely will by the end of summer. She is also a swimmer so tampon use is a “given”. I have no problem with them being used at this age and wished I had learned about them earlier in my youth. Toxic shock is less of an issue because 1) some of the materials used in the 80s are not longer 2) those huge “super” ones rarely exist. My mom used them too. ugh. Today’s product is smaller, thinner and I think easier to use. Like anything else, proper use is key. Change often and don’t sleep in them if you can avoid it.

mom2alex&max

February 23rd, 2011
6:20 am

Oh boy does this take me back. My mother REFUSED to let me wear tampons for the same reason. So my physical activities during that time were greatly reduced. Finally, by the time I was around 15 or 16 I went and bought them with my own money cuz I was sick of the restrictions. She relented after that, but wasn’t happy about it.

I have no daughters, so I guess I don’t have to contend with all that!

motherjanegoose

February 23rd, 2011
7:22 am

@mom2alex&max…..me too! My Mom did not want me to wear tampons, although she wore them.
That was 35 ish years ago. I started using them in college. I have NO problem with my daughter wearing them. Pads, to me, are gross.

deidre_NC

February 23rd, 2011
8:01 am

my mom wouldnt let me use them either. i have no idea why-but 2 of my girlfriends and i figured out how and that was that. my youngest daughter started when she was 10..and used a pad at first..she was so young a tampon just seemed too much. she hated the pad and i bought some of the very slender ones…she was ok with it after she got used to it. she was really so young..i think that was more of an issue and she hated the grossness of the pad. she was very active in all kinds of sports and outdoor activities-the pad just wasnt getting it.of course we had the lessons on how often to change it etc…i think that is pretty obvious-when she would have really bad cramps she would use a pad at night…she doesnt use them at all now…just the little mini pads for the breakthough stuff.

Claire

February 23rd, 2011
8:23 am

I started when I was 10, in 5th grade. I started using tampons that summer, because I liked to swim. I never turned back. There’s absolutely no reason a young girl shouldn’t be able to use one. It’s for sanity reasons- there’s no reason to relate it to sex. That’s like saying “as soon as your hymen is broken you’re no longer a virgin” or “if you use super tampons it means you’re not a virgin.” That’s ridiculous. I never had an issue leaving them in too long nor forgetting to change them.

motherjanegoose

February 23rd, 2011
8:29 am

Off topic but sort of related. My daughter came home from college and told me:

Mom, I think I need to put a sign up in the girl’s restroom on our floor:

PLEASE FLUSH THE TOILET WHEN YOU USE IT

it is so gross!

If kids can get into college, can the flush their own toilet or do Mom and Dad do it for them?

TinaTeach

February 23rd, 2011
8:35 am

I don’t see a problem with it. I was wearing them when I started at 12. My sister chose pads and still wears them to this day. I can’t stand pads, they just seem so gross!

Aquagirl

February 23rd, 2011
8:40 am

Tampons are like sex? Lord, that woman must have lived an incredibly boring life.

Elvis

February 23rd, 2011
8:42 am

Well I found the string on the end of a Tampon makes it easier to floss after I eat

lulu

February 23rd, 2011
8:43 am

When my MIL (and plenty of older family members, come to think of it) don’t think virgins CAN wear tampons – never mind SHOULD.

I started in 7th grade and started using tampons at the same time – like the first poster, I was a swimmer so it was a necessity. Never had problems, never thought it was anything remotely like sex, remained plenty sheltered for quite some time.

As for TSS, all 1980s. The cause of all the cases then was discovered and eliminated pretty quickly. Now, change often and “don’t wear them to sleep” is a great rule that I completely ignore, because pads are gross.

lulu

February 23rd, 2011
8:45 am

*My MIL… doesn’t …(Not “When my MIL… don’t…”) Sorry, no idea what I did there.

justmy2cents

February 23rd, 2011
8:47 am

@ Aquagirl- LMAO, no doubt!! I bet she was straight up missionary style

My oldest started this year, and she currently uses pads. I agree they are gross, but she has finished her quarters of PE for the year (which is another issue- WHY only PE half the year???). If she asks to use tampons, I have no issues with it.

When I first started, I used pads…ughh like wearing bloody diapers, disgusting!! My mom left is up to us what we wanted to use, but no, never had an applicator-less “plug” as I call it.

ABC

February 23rd, 2011
8:55 am

Eww and double eww. Is nothing private anymore?

Aquagirl

February 23rd, 2011
8:55 am

@ just, all I could think of was a bizarre sort of lolcat thing: “either secks or tampons.. U R doing it rong.”

iRun

February 23rd, 2011
8:55 am

OMG, my mother, who is 65 had to deal with HER mother not letting her wear tampons because “unmarried women, who are supposed to be virgins, should not wear tampons” because god-forbid anything touch the vagina before that great master – the husband. Only HE can touch it!

Anyway, she became a nurse. And when I started my period at age 11 she was right there with a box of the smallest ones, saying, “C’mon, this is so much better than that DAIPER.”

In fact, she helped me “apply” the first one. I was 11 and she is my mom and was a nurse so it was all very OBGYN. Painless, safe, and it made all my future periods so much easier to deal with.

Especially since iRun a lot.

Never did the issue of sex come into the wearing of tampons. She didn’t even need to mention that you should take them out before sex because we’d already had sex talks and she’d told me I shouldn’t have sex until I was old enough to take care of a baby and/or married. Unfortunately, I got married and had a baby before I was really old enough to take care of one. But that’s another story.

As for virgins not being ABLE to wear tampons? Sounds like the doctors who thought women shouldn’t be runners because it would damage their reproductive organs. True story. Back in the 70s, before the wide-spread acceptance of women in major marathon. Hello Katherine Switzer!

As for TSS…my sister, whose a doctor, says that you only really have to worry about that if you’re one of those women with REALLY REALLY light periods and you’re tempted to put one in and leave it there for more than a day. That’s a bad setup. You should change them every 6-8 hours, even if you have a super light flow.

All this is moot, though. I had my uterus firebombed a while back so it doesn’t work anymore, doesn’t even bleed. Now I got all these tampons dry rotting in my medicine cabinet.

iRun

February 23rd, 2011
9:05 am

Ick, sorry for my typos…too much coffee.

Carly

February 23rd, 2011
9:07 am

Wow, this takes me back! I am a 45-year-old woman and I can remember that my mother told me that that tampons (and douching, too!) was strictly for married women. I didn’t learn differently until I went away to college and my roomate looked at me as if I were from another planet when I mentioned this to her. When my daughter started to get her menses, I instructed her on the use of both pads and tampons and let her make her own choice, based on her own personal preference. I think that mothers in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s were just going on what their mothers taught them.

A

February 23rd, 2011
9:15 am

My mother was always a prude, and never used tampons. Knowing my grandmother as I do, she didn’t put any “anti-tampon” ideas into my mother’s head, but nonetheless my mother still had a fear of them. And I don’t think she truly though they were “bad” or “evil”….she was just simply afraid of them. She always wore the biggest, thickest pads you could find….with the wings. It was honestly one step below an adult diaper. So when it came time for me to enter the world of menstrual products, that was what she bought me. I was absolutely disgusted. I was a late starter, so I knew many of my friends used tampons….I asked her about them, and she tried her best to divert my attention. I was insistent though, because I had an extremely heavy flow from the beginning and I was extremely active (running, swimming, water sports, etc.) and needed something better than her adult diapers. So she finally relented and took me to the store. She wouldn’t go down the aisle with me, so I remember buying several different kinds to figure out what worked best for me. When it came time to figure out how to use them, she was absolutely no help……I went through about half a box before I got one in sucessfully.

Carla

February 23rd, 2011
9:18 am

Been debating this issue a lot this year. My step-daugter is at that “any day now” age and so the conversation has started. Her mom doesn’t want her to use them and for the same reason…too invasive at that age. My mom wouldn’t let me wear them so my friend’s mom would buy them for me and I had to get real creative at home about how to hide the use of them. I just remember having to wear the pads at school and then going to the bathroom, turning around to your best friend…worriedly asking…Can you tell I’m wearing this? Boys also know what is happening at this age and if they catch u with a pad on they would spread it all over the school…And pretty much everything about using a pad and god forbid wearing one is just nasty…and makes one feel gross…So..do I follow my daughter’s mom’s wishes? I don’t know yet. I may have to wait until my daughter decides it is an issue for HER. Until then I’m just gonna be there and be supportive and BLESS HER HEART! LOL!

Her

February 23rd, 2011
9:23 am

No, young girls should not use tampons. only her parents can tell her what she is ALLOWED to do and i hope they would encourage pads.

in Sex Ed they recommended tampons usage minimal, plus while rare TSS is possible.

tampons are just gross anyway personal opinion. pads are soft and stay on the outside of things…tampons you have to stick up and….well you know. no thank you.

LydiasDad

February 23rd, 2011
9:26 am

I’m getting a little nauseous here…

FCM

February 23rd, 2011
9:33 am

My oldest is getting that point. We have the talks, she had the lesson school in Health. I have no issue with her using them–except at night, she can do a pad then.

She however said she has no plans to use them. A pad seems fine to her. She thinks the whole idea of a tampon is disgusting and “there is no way I want to put that in there!”

I on the other hand had a mother like Mom2 Alex & Max. She believed that it would encourage me to want to have sex. Whatever! I ended up getting my friends to bring them to me from their supplies. About 6 years after I started my regular cycles I had sex…so much for Mom’s thoughts on tampons vs. sex.

CobbParent

February 23rd, 2011
9:37 am

I don’t have a daughter, but those of us with sons know that as the girls around them start to “change” we must be prepared to answer some questions. My son knows about periods and tampons because he has a mom. No big deal, I didn’t have to get graphic or gross about it. Perhaps more difficult is coming up with an answer to “why do people call one another douchebags?” Geez. I remember the term being used when I was a kid in the 70s/80s and never quite understood it. I mean, I know what a douche is…and what a douchebag was (the product has been all-in-one and disposable for decades so there are not bags anymore, right?). I still don’t know how someone who is a jerk or an idiot equates to a vaginal wash or the equipment that used to be used to conduct the procedure….maybe it is because you shouldn’t be around either?

Suchaneffinlady

February 23rd, 2011
9:39 am

I’m glad this topic was broached. My daughter is 13 and has been getting her cycle since she was 11. It just seemed natural to me to have her use pads, even though I prefer tampons myself. After reading some of your comments, I have decided to introduce her to tampons and leave that decision up to her. Pads are icky and gross but there is an old fashioned side to me (I’m 29) that felt like inserting objects into the vagina would be traumatizing, however, its quite natural and she has probably explored “that area” on her own anyway. She won’t be pleased but we will be discussing tampon usage this evening! Thanks all

iRun

February 23rd, 2011
9:42 am

CobbParent,

I believe it’s because a real old fashioned douche bag gets is (1) a tool, (2) gets really gross after use, and (3) is a very personal product.

As such, calling someone a douchebag implies (1) they’re a tool, (2) they’re disgusting, and (3) they’re self-centered wankers.

At least that’s how I’ve always applied the term.

CobbParent

February 23rd, 2011
9:44 am

Thanks, iRun. :) And LOL, I thought I was the only one around here who used the term “wanker”.

iRun

February 23rd, 2011
9:44 am

remove the *gets* from my first sentence. sheesh…

iRun

February 23rd, 2011
9:46 am

Nah, as soon as I first hear that term from a British guy I knew in high school I’ve used it ever since.

Though, it might be that douchebag means approximately the same thing as wanker so in my little definition of the word it’s redundant.

Tom

February 23rd, 2011
9:51 am

“too much like sex”?????

Sounds like one of those S Ga Talibaptist busy-bodies fighting Sunday alcohol sales.

Techmom

February 23rd, 2011
9:53 am

iRun – thanks for the laugh (wanker – bahahaha)

Anan

February 23rd, 2011
9:54 am

For goodness sakes! This discussion is Not for the AJC!

TG

February 23rd, 2011
9:54 am

Losing your virginity to a tampon. Ah…yes. I remember that concern back in the 70’s. But the excuse not to is because it is “too invasive?” Shouldn’t we women teach our daughters about their parts before a man does?

A

February 23rd, 2011
10:04 am

I’m starting to wonder if “Her” is my mother….

Cammi317

February 23rd, 2011
10:07 am

My mom would not allow me to use them. I was 17 and away in college the first time I used one. My daughter is 13 and has not started yet but I know by year’s end she will and this is an issue that has been on my mind. The dance school “encourages” the use of tampons. Over the last couple of years we have had various discussions and the thought of a tampon currently grosses her out anyway. I know it’s illogical, but right now I also have issues with anything being inserted into my daughter so I am happy that she currently has no interest in using tampons. Of course, that her mind may change when it’s a real issue. I guess we’ll cross that bridge over the next few months….

Jeff

February 23rd, 2011
10:12 am

Let them use the tampon. Being active and having confidence in their activity is more important. Girls that are active are less likely, statistically, to get into trouble. Besides, sex doesn’t carry the taboo it did when I was growing up in the 80’s. It’s not like some guy is going to have the marriage annuled because she used tampons.

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

February 23rd, 2011
10:12 am

I have a more dad friendly topic popping up around 1 p.m. I wasn’t sure whether to post this topic but I am glad I did. I am enjoying everyone’s stories and it’s good for us to think about how attitude’s have changed.

JATL

February 23rd, 2011
10:13 am

Good grief! Is someone seriously debating the “sexuality” of tampon use? Really? Unbelievable. My mom introduced me to pads (anyone remember Sure and Natural?) when I started at 12, and I went through about 2 cycles before asking her to get me tampons. She did. Pads are gross to me, and if a female does any type of athletics, dancing, exercise classes or swimming/water activities, then she better get used to tampons. My mom and I used to crack up at the old Cathy Rigby Stayfree ads where she was supposedly wearing a “mattress” (this was before slim pads with wings and all of that jazz) under her gymnastics leotard. The print ads showed her on the balance beam doing a handstand with her legs spread in a perfect split. Sure -like she had on a big ‘ol Stayfree at the time! Please!

As far as tampons and sleeping -I always wear them, and that includes overnight. Pads at night are even more disgusting. And forgetting about them? Well, uh, it happens and is possible although I’ve never personally understood how. I would think young minds with fresh brains would be better at remembering that sort of thing than us older, addled women.

iRun

February 23rd, 2011
10:14 am

OMG, why is everyone up in arms about girls inserting things into their vaginas?!?! WTF?

Doncha remember when they were babies/toddlers and they were sticking their OWN fingers up there all the time, during the natural exploration of their bodies? Or didya stop that, too?

As far as them thinking it’s gross…sure, because there’s goopy, clumpy blood and mucus dripping out of it. Nasty. But they shouldn’t think it’s nasty otherwise. Don’t they CLEAN themselves??? You didn’t teach them they should do that?

Man, I don’t have a daughter but I sure would approach the subject of her vagina in a no-nonsense fashion. I mean, there’s biology, psychology, and sex, which is both biological and psychological. As a parent you gotta teach them their bodies are okay and teach them the love and care of their bodies.

When it comes to sex, teach them whatever morals, ethics, and safety procedures you think are necessary. But you gotta stop treating the vagina like it’s a freakin venus fly trap that’s gonna suck them into a world of promiscuity and moral ethos.

It’s a freakin vagina, not a sulfurous black hole.

Carla

February 23rd, 2011
10:19 am

IRUN…Giggles and snort…just spit my coffee out laughing…priceless! I catch my son holding on to himself constantly…sleeping, standing, talking, walking….but girls are taught to almost fear it as “quicksand”…

Carla

February 23rd, 2011
10:20 am

i mean their own parts are quicksand…..where boys are out in the open with …oh never mind

bunch of yentas

February 23rd, 2011
10:21 am

Personally, I think that women should still lay on a rag on a bed for a week during this time of the month. Only getting up to prepare food or do laundry.

Nah, I’m kidding. Let the girls stop it up however they want and go about their normal day.

really

February 23rd, 2011
10:23 am

am i the only person who prefers pads?! i have a very sensitive “area” and feel VERY uncomfortable with tampons (i’ve tried every brand/type available). if, unfortunately, i have a daughter (i am such a tomboy!), i will give her the option of either one. i do not think it’s a big deal.
the major issue i encounter – being a middle school teacher – is hygiene during menstruation. we need to focus a little more on teaching girls how to keep themselves clean and fresh during this time of the month.

Bert

February 23rd, 2011
10:26 am

I have a 16-month-old, and I really wanted to avoid this conversation for a while.

really

February 23rd, 2011
10:26 am

i played sports, even went to college on a basketball scholarship, and did just fine with pads.

mom2alex&max

February 23rd, 2011
10:26 am

bunch of yentas, you laugh but when I got my period for the 1st time it happened to be on a day that my great-grandma (at the time she must have been well into her 80s) came over to the house for tea. My mother, of course, whispered to her what had happened and she said: “And you are up and about??? I was in bed the whole day!”

Ah memories…

JATL

February 23rd, 2011
10:27 am

@iRun -you’re cracking me up! No kidding about “vaginal education” -it’s a body part, and if you have one, you should know how it works and how to treat it properly! You would be surprised and appalled at how many parents still freak out and punish (even spank) their young children when they find them playing with themselves or little girls sticking their fingers in their vaginas while naturally exploring. They are taught from the very beginning that it’s “nasty” and taboo and shameful. It’s sad and disgusting that these attitudes are alive and well in 2011.

iRun

February 23rd, 2011
10:27 am

bunch of yentas – my mom told me about how when she was a teenager they had the old fashioned rags, with the belts, etc. Tampons, from what I understand, were available for retail sale loooooooong before the disposable pad.

So, here’s my mom in the 50s, having to wear this giant cloth diaper with a freakin belt and she sees these small, discreet little tampons in the store and her mom won’t let her wear them for fear that her future husband will reject her based on a perceived loss of virginity.

I’m so glad my mom got out of there.

JATL

February 23rd, 2011
10:30 am

@really -good for you that one of those juicy pads never fell out when you were going for a layup! That happened to a girl in one of my P.E. classes. You were fortunate to be involved in an activity where you did get to wear shorts, but pads and leotards or bathing suits don’t mix.

iRun

February 23rd, 2011
10:31 am

Oh, considering who my mom married (uh, my dad, who she’s still married to 43 years later), my grandmother worried for nothing. The way my dad’s personality is…I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t have noticed or cared whether or not my mom was a virgin, perceived or otherwise.