Show me the ropes! What type of tampons are there?

Lots of things in life are complicated. Conjugating french verbs. Contouring. Heart surgery.

Luckily for all of us, tampons don’t have to be one of them.

Made of absorbent material, compressed into a small cylindrical shape and inserted into your vagina like a fancy plug, tampons come in two main species:

Applicator vs non-applicator tampons

Applicator tampons have a cardboard or plastic mechanism that slides out, clicks into place and helps guide the tampon into place, like the satellite GPS of sanitary products. Because of the applicator, they can look intimidatingly long when they’re in their packaging, but don’t worry – most of that will end up in the bin, not your body.

Non-applicator tampons are just like applicator tampons… but usually shorter, a little wider and, you know, without the applicator. You just insert these bad boys with a clean finger, no equipment required.

Tampons may take a bit of practice to get right, but when they’re put in correctly you shouldn’t be able to feel them at all (like, AT ALL).

The best way to work out whether you an applicator or non-applicator type of gal is to try out both, and see what works for you.

Let’s talk absorbency  

Tampons tend to fall into four main houses.

Lite – these are the Hufflepuff of tampons. People often overlook them, or underestimate their abilities, but they’re actually really approachable and great for those who are new to the tampon world. Perfect for the light beginning and end of a period, or times when you’re only bleeding a teeny tiny bit.

Regular – these are the Gryffindor of tampons. They’re popular and heroic and they often take on more than they can handle. They’re all-round great sports. But just because they get all the glory, it doesn’t mean they’re always the right tampon for you.

Super – these are the Slytherin of tampons. They’re ambitious guys who know how to get a job done. They might seem a bit intimidating, but when needed they should still slither-in fairly easily… if you know what we mean.

Super plus – the Ravenclaws of tampons, super plus won’t be outdone by anyone thank you very much. Like a teacher’s pet in a History of Magic class, these guys absorb everything. Just remember to Expelliarmus every 4-8 hours to avoid a Moaning Myrtle situation.

How do I know which one to use?

Luckily there’s a sorting hat in your pants – all you need to do it listen to it. Most people start with lite or regular tampons and then adjust the size they use depending on their flow.

Your tampon should be easy to remove. If it feels dry or ‘stuck’ it probably means it hasn’t been in for long enough and you can wait a bit longer before removing it. But if you’ve had it in for eight hours and this is still happening, you might want to try a lower absorbency tampon – particularly towards the end of your period when things tend to lighten up.

On the other hand, if you go to the loo and find that the tampon string is wet with menstrual fluid, you’re definitely ready for a change. If you find that this keeps happening after only having your tampon in for a few hours, you might want to try a higher absorbency tampon. Simple!

Or as the French would say… simple. Oh.

Image: Manjit Thapp

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