Healthy New Jersey

Periods (menstruation)


Key facts about tampons:
  • Tampons are available in a variety of sizes and absorbencies.
  • Change your tampon every 4-6 hours to maintain good hygiene and prevent toxic shock syndrome (TSS).
  • Inserting/using tampons does not change your hymen or your virginity.

Tampons are small, cylindrical units of material that collect menstrual fluid. They are considered "internal" protection whereas pads are "external" period protection. Tampons, like pads, come in a variety of absorbencies, sizes, and options, and can be found where sanitary protection products are sold.

tampon with applicator

Tampon with applicator

A tampon with an applicator is a period product that consists of a cylindrical absorbent core encased in a plastic or cardboard tube. The applicator aids in the insertion of the tampon into the vaginal canal, providing convenience and ease of use during menstruation.

tampon without applicator

Tampon without applicator

A tampon without an applicator is a compact and absorbent period product. It consists of a cylindrical shape made of soft material, designed for direct insertion into the vaginal canal. It provides comfort and convenience during menstruation, relying on manual insertion without the aid of an applicator.


What size tampon should I use?

Choosing the right size tampon depends on your flow intensity. Here are some general guidelines to help you select the right size:

Light Flow

If your flow is light, start with a smaller size tampon, such as "light" or "regular." These tampons are generally narrower and less absorbent.

Moderate to heavy flow

For moderate to heavy flow, choose a larger size tampon, such as "regular" or "super." These sizes provide more absorbency and coverage.

Comfort level

As you gain experience with tampons, you'll become more attuned to your flow and what size works best for you. You may find that your flow varies throughout your period, and you might prefer different tampon sizes for different days.

Factors to consider when selecting the right tampon for you


Tampons are available in different absorbency levels: light, regular, super, and super plus. The absorbency you choose depends on your flow. It's generally recommended to start with a lower absorbency tampon and select a higher level if needed. Using a higher absorbency tampon than necessary can increase the risk of dryness and discomfort.

Applicator type

Tampons can have either plastic or cardboard applicators. Plastic applicators tend to be smoother and more comfortable to insert, while cardboard applicators are more eco-friendly. Some tampons also come without applicators, allowing for manual insertion.

Size and shape

Tampons vary in size and shape. Some are compact and slim, designed for easy insertion and discretion, while others may be larger or have a more rounded shape for better coverage. Consider your comfort and preferences when choosing the size and shape of tampons.

Special features

Some tampons offer additional features such as leak protection, odor control, or moisture-wicking properties. These features can enhance your comfort and confidence during your period. 

Tampon hygiene and disposal

Clean hands

Always wash your hands with soap and water before inserting or removing a tampon to minimize the risk of introducing harmful bacteria into the vaginal area.

Proper insertion

Follow the instructions provided with the tampons for correct insertion. Make sure the tampon is inserted deep enough into the vagina and the string is left outside for easy removal.

Changing frequency

Change tampons every 4 to 6 hours, depending on your flow. Avoid leaving a tampon in for longer than the recommended time to reduce the risk of toxic shock syndrome (TSS) and bacterial overgrowth.

Tampon removal

When removing a tampon, again, wash your hands thoroughly. Gently pull the string downward, keeping the tampon parallel to the vaginal opening. Dispose of the used tampon properly.

Proper disposal

Tampons should not be flushed down the toilet. Flushing tampons can lead to plumbing issues and environmental problems. Instead, dispose of used tampons in a trash bin.

If you prefer more eco-friendly options, consider using menstrual cups, menstrual discs, reusable cloth pads, or biodegradable tampons.

  • Change your tampon every 4-6 hours to avoid health risks.
  • Know the signs of toxic shock syndrome (TSS) and notify a health care provider if symptoms are experienced.
  • Consult a health care provider for personalized guidance about the right size or if you have concerns.
  • Follow the instructions provided with the tampons for proper insertion and removal techniques to ensure your safety and comfort.
  • Never flush a tampon down the toilet. Dispose of used tampons in a designated disposal bin or the trash.

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