Your period is nothing to be ashamed of, but most of us don’t feel uncomfortable talking about what goes on each month. If you’re new to using tampons or just got your first period, you may have some lingering questions that you’re afraid to ask. Here are some of the most frequent questions we get from readers:
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1. How Often Should You Change Your Tampon?
If you’ve never used a tampon before, you may not know how often to change it. Medical experts recommend changing a tampon at least every four to eight hours.
You may need to change it more often, depending on the heaviness of your flow. But even if your flow is light, it’s best to insert a fresh tampon every four or five hours (eight is pushing it unless you’re sleeping).
2. What Absorbency Level Should You Choose When Buying Tampons?
Always choose the lightest absorbency for your flow. Remember, tampons change the environment of your vagina because it absorbs both the blood and the healthy fluids in your vagina. When these fluids are absorbed, it creates the perfect breeding ground for bad bacteria, including the ones that cause TSS (Toxic Shock Syndrome).
You’re at greater risk of TSS if you wear the wrong absorbency for your flow, like wearing a heavy absorbency when your flow is light.
3. When It Comes to Flow, How Heavy is Too Heavy?
You’ve probably been told that a heavy flow may indicate an underlying medical issue. Many women have very heavy periods and don’t even know it because they assume their flow is normal. So, how heavy is too heavy?
On average, women lose 2 1/2 tsp. of blood each day during their periods, which equates to about 2-3 super absorbency tampons and 4 regular tampons each day. These are rough estimates, as blood flow can vary significantly from one woman to the next.
Once you understand what a normal flow is for you, it becomes much easier to spot changes that may be concerning. If your flow suddenly becomes heavier, it’s time to see your doctor.
Generally, doctors say that if you’re going through 16 soaked sanitary products each time you get your period, your flow is very heavy and you should see a doctor. Women who bleed this heavily typically have an iron deficiency or anemia (low blood count).
4. Should You Be Worried About Blood Clots?
If your flow is heavy, passing a small clot from time to time is generally nothing to be concerned about. During the heaviest days of your flow, anticoagulants don’t really have time to work their magic before the blood exits your body.
But if you’re passing clots that are larger than a quarter, you should see your doctor. This may be a sign that your flow is heavier than it should be.
5. Are Tampons and Pads the Only Options?
Unfortunately, you don’t have too many options when it comes to sanitary products. If you prefer not to use tampons or pads, you can try a menstrual cup, like the Mooncup or Diva Cup. These reusable cups are inserted manually into your vagina to collect the blood, rather than absorbing it.
There are also “period panties,” like Thinx, which are specially made panties that absorb blood during your period. These panties are moisture-wicking, so you stay dry, and absorbent. Thinx can hold liquid equivalent to two tampons.
6. Can Orgasms Help with Cramps?
Yes! The hormone oxytocin is produced during an orgasm, which is known as nature’s pain reliever. Some call it the cuddling hormone because it helps you feel more connected to your partner.
Changes in the production of other hormones can also offer some relief from cramps, albeit temporary.