Things you can (and can’t) do with a tampon

Female hand holding a tampon with an applicator

As much as we love the internet and its endless supply of cat memes, there is also a lot of misinformation floating around online. Recently, we’ve seen some less-than-accurate “facts” popping up about tampons. If you’re a first-time tampon user, curious about tampons, or even a period pro, it can be easy to get confused. If you search something as simple as “can you shower with a tampon in”, there’s a huge chance you’re going to get some weird and not altogether truthful answers. A lot of people think they’re an expert, but in reality, they might be spreading some very incorrect information.

As experts, we here at Tampax thought it was time to clear up a few popular misconceptions by answering some of your most pressing period and tampon questions.

If you’ve ever wondered things like “does your period stop in the shower”, or “can you pee with a tampon in”, then you’ve come to the right place.

Here are the most common tampon questions, answered by people who actually know what they’re talking about.

Can you flush a tampon down the toilet?

Let’s settle this once and for all: please don’t flush your tampon down the toilet. Have you ever walked into a bathroom and opened a stall door, only to be met with a toilet clogged up with red, bloody water? Not a pleasant sight. So, how do you dispose of tampons? Wrap it up in a tissue (or perhaps give our Pearl tampons a try, which come in a CleanSeal wrapper for quick, easy disposal) and throw it in the bin.

Can you recycle tampon applicators?

Sadly not. Because tampons have been in contact with what is defined as human waste, they cannot be recycled in conventional city or country recycling streams. While tampon applicators can’t be recycled, all Tampax boxes can be recycled and many of them are actually made from recycled materials. If you’re interested in reusable period products, try a menstrual cup like the Tampax Cup – a medical-grade silicone cup that you insert into your vagina to capture period blood for up to 12 hours. Where a tampon works by absorbing the blood to contain it, a cup simply holds it until you’re ready to empty it. When you’re done, all you have to do is remove it, discard the contents into the toilet bowl, and wash it thoroughly to sanitise. Good for you, good for your period, and even better for the environment.

Can you pee with a tampon in?

Absolutely! Period blood comes out of your vagina, which is connected to your uterus. Urine comes out of your urethra, which is connected to your bladder. So, when you insert a tampon, it’s going into your vagina and leaving your urethra clear to urinate without any obstructions. But you might be wondering, what happens if I get pee on the string? Nothing really, but if the thought of walking around with a pee-soaked tampon string makes you feel uncomfortable, just hold the string to the side and out of the way when you pee. Problem solved.

Can I use a tampon while swimming? How long can I keep it in for?

People love to make jokes (or at least we hope they’re joking) that swimming in the ocean when you have your period will attract sharks. This has actually been debunked by numerous scientists, however, a lot of people are concerned that if you go swimming with a tampon in that you’ll leak in the water. The good news is, because tampons are specifically designed to absorb period flow before it can leave your body, tampons are excellent for swimming in any kind of water.

Can you shower with a tampon in?

The same rules apply here as for swimming. Tampax tampons have a LeakGuard Braid to help stop leaks before they happen, so you can wash as usual without worrying about bleeding as soon as you step out of the shower. Some people believe that the hot water from your shower will cause you to bleed more, since heat stimulates blood flow, but that doesn’t necessarily apply to your period. Plus, it doesn’t matter if you have a tampon inserted, because it will still help keep you protected from leaking.

Does your period stop in the shower?

While it would come in handy, sadly not. Water does not stop your period from happening. It may seem that way, if you shower without a tampon in, but this is mostly because the water is diluting the blood, so it doesn’t look as dark or thick. However, if you take a bath, you actually will notice that it looks like you’ve stopped bleeding, but it’s actually physics at work. Because water creates more resistance than air, when you are submerged in the bath there is pressure against the opening of your vagina that can temporarily prevent blood from flowing out. But, once you get out of the bath and that pressure is gone, you’ll likely start bleeding again.

How long can you leave a tampon in for?

Tampons should only be used for up to 8 hours. While it’s fine to wear one for that long, you may find that you need to change your tampon more often for hygiene reasons depending on your flow. The absorbency of your tampon can also have an effect on how long you can wear it for. If your tampon is fully saturated and/or leaks after four hours, you most likely need to increase the absorbency, e.g. from Regular to Super. If your tampon is dry and a bit more difficult to get out after eight hours, you should try a lower absorbency. It’s a good idea to stock multiple absorbencies of tampons so you always have the right one to hand. As for sleeping with a tampon in, you can definitely wear one overnight – just make sure it stays in for no longer than eight hours.

There you have it: some of the most common questions about tampons, answered by actual experts who know what they’re talking about.