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Tampons... Yes or No?

By March 6, 2009

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A mom on the forum asks for advice: My 13 year old daughter asked me when she can start wearing tampons. I'm not really ready for these kinda questions. I feel she is to young and just can't. When I say this to her she says all her friends use them. Am I just to old school or what? Now she is all mad at me because I didn't give her the answer she wanted to hear. Any advice?

Denise's thoughts: I believe we grew up in a time when tampons were new on the scene and our mothers were a little unsure of them. Hence, our hesitation now.

I let my daughter and the girls at the teen home make the decision when they were ready. There are starter kits that give good directions. I know Kmart has them, if you should decide to let her. The Tampax site has a lot of informative information too.

Asking our community of parents to share their advice and experiences in the comments area.

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March 6, 2009 at 8:08 am
(1) Cindy says:

I have a thirteen year old daughter too. I’m sorry to say, I do think you are being a little old school. This is a personal decision about their bodies, I think it is one you can let her make on her own. Personally, I think it would be a bit humiliating to be told no on this particular thing. Also, if she like to swim, (my daughter is on the swim team), then she needs to be able to use a tampon.

March 6, 2009 at 8:35 am
(2) Louise says:

As a parent who has battled with endometriosis, I would research the link between tampon use and this disease first. I had my last op eight years ago to remove “fibroids” and have worn sanitary towels since and never again had a problem. I personally believe that menstruation is a normal function and should flow – the moment you supress the flow, the “waste” builds up and leads to endometriosis.
Apologies for putting you off but please look into it before deciding as endometriosis is not a pleasant condition to live with.

March 6, 2009 at 8:36 am
(3) Kay says:

I had to talk my daughter into using tampons. At first, she was resistant, but she too likes to swim and it was the only way. After she got used to them (which took once), she claimed she would never use pads again. The only thing you need to make sure and do is warn your daughters about toxic shock syndrom. If a tampon is left in to long, it can be bad news. I suggest reading the directions together to make sure she understands everything first.

March 6, 2009 at 8:38 am
(4) Ellie says:

I have five daughters, ranging in age from 11 to 21. Despite being an arguably “experienced” mom (who preferred tampons when I was younger despite my mom’s forbidding them), I still felt the same anxiety as you when my now 14 (then 12 year old) started her period.

I did however, swallow my anxiety and tell her about every form of pad/tampon available. I then showed her our “stock drawer” .. with five daughters, I keep a drawer in their bathroom completely stocked with several brands / styles of tampons and all sorts of pads. We ‘tested’ them all out in a very funny mocking way … Then I left it to her to decide, to try them out, and to modify her use as fit her and her lifestyle.

I think she was even more reluctant to do tampons than I was… it frankly creeped her completely out

However, she is -extremely- active in sports – dive team, swim team, travel soccer and that often mandated a tampon. She also attends a a private school with a required (light) skirt as a uniform .. she had the unfortunate complete humiliation of experiencing a leak through twice in her first year …

She now alternates between tampons and pads; often she uses both.

I should add that this particular daughter is very religious .. and spoke not just to me about tampons, but to her doctor and a favorite nun. She was concerned about her chastity. The doctor (and nun) explained that it was fine to use tampons, that it wouldnt affect it (as we all know now as adults) .. further the doctor recommended tampons because of the sports and also because she said it gave girls a better sense of their body. With better sense of their body, they are more likely to be in tune with it, and feel empowered to control who touches it …

Id strongly encourage you to speak with her about all of her options, provide her with all of them, and then sit back and be ready to support her

You’ve got a young lady now!

March 6, 2009 at 8:51 am
(5) fanny says:

I have been using tampons my whole life and never had an issue. My daughter used it the first time at age 12. I think it was her second period and she had a pool party, didn’t want to miss.

Keep in mind that some girls really have trouble with them though. My daughter only uses when she NEEDS to. She has a friend who is older and can’t use them at all. I have a girlfriend who NEVER used them her whole life.

As for endometriosis/fibroids and link with tampons. I knew a girl who had endometriosis and never used a tampon. My mom had fibroids and never used a tampon. There really is no link between the two, especially since a tampon is in the vaginal cavity and fibroid are in the uterus. You are not preventing the flow to leave the uterus, only preventing it from leaving the body.

The other thing, edometriosis is not a build up of tissue in the uterus, endometiosis is the body creating the tissue that builds up in the uterus natarully through the month in the wrong places, filopian tubes and can even be in the colon, this is not related to tampon use and has nothing to do with anything that is preventable. When I knew the girl who got it, she told me a lot about it and I did some reading.

However, Toxic shock is related to tampon use. So if your daughter is using tampons at a young age, be sure she knows to make sure to remove it. A tampon should not be in for more then 6 hours also using a tampon that is more absorbant then the flow you have at the time can cause it to scratch the vaginal wall. So if your child wishes to use them, be sure she is responsible and reads the information. I think its a personal choice and need not be used all the time. I personally think its not a good idea to use at night (toxic shock, could leave in too long). To ensure my daughter paid attention (since she is a bit ditzy and forgetful), I would just say, “did you change” or “is it time to change” even if someone was within earshot they had no idea what I was talking about. If someone asked we would say something stupid. And your kids friends are really best help with some of this information (as long as you check accuracy) when my duaghter got her first period, her friends who had it already coached her a lot:)

March 6, 2009 at 9:04 am
(6) MomHon says:

I agree in large part with what has been said; however, I would add 2 other things to consider. First, if your daughter is going to use tampons, if you can at all afford them you should really consider using the organic cotton ones. Most tampons are made out of non-organic cotton – cotton is one of the most pesticide-laden crops grown, and bleached with dioxin, another potential carcinogen. Please read an excellent article about why we should choose organic cotton tampons at http://www.brighthub.com/environment/green-living/articles/16550.aspx

In addition, my personal experience with tampons was this: when I started my period at 13, I wanted to use tampons. My sister-in-law was a nurse, and she gave me an excellent (clothed!) demonstration of how you stand when you, and how you, insert a tampon. In spite of this, I just couldn’t do it. I gave up trying & used pads, and thought I was just an idiot that wasn’t doing it right. 5 years later, it took 3 tries & a very determined partner to be “de-virginated”, as my roommate called it. I actually felt a pop inside my body, and there was quite a lot of blood. After that, I had no problem using a tampon! So just as a warning – in case she turns out to be someone like me, you might want to discuss this possibility with her. Not that that would be a reason not to use them, but that 1) it could be difficult, and 2) this is what could possibly happen.

March 6, 2009 at 9:40 am
(7) Ceceilia Jones says:

I grew up in the 1970′s and my mother did not resist when I decided to wear them. I soon found out how uncomfortable they were and only wore them because other girls my age did. When I completed college, I no longer wanted to be in the “in crowd”, it was over….I never wore them again. You daughter may plead to wear them but may soon change her mind. The more you resist…the more she will want them.

March 6, 2009 at 12:50 pm
(8) Vicky says:

If you are not ready for this kind of conversation, I am very concerned about whether you are having other conversations you need to having. I am a very religious, conservative parent and teacher with two grown children and a 15- year-old daughter. I still believe by the time your daughter is 13 you should have already established an atmosphere where she can ask you about anything – tampons, sex, drugs, etc. If she senses she cannot ask you, trust me, she will ask someone else. They many not tell her what you want her to hear. She is physically not a baby any more…start talking to her like the young adult she is becoming.

March 6, 2009 at 1:21 pm
(9) Rowan says:

Hello everyone. I do think that the choice to use tampons should be the decision of the daughter, but I also think both Mom and daughter really need to talk about this and investigate tampons and pads fully.

Someone has already talked about endometriosis and I know another has given a good argument against the link between tampons and endo. Also, someone else touched on dioxin-the by product of the bleaching of the materials used in tampons. Dioxin is also present in pads.

On the topic of endometriosis, I suffer with that condition and lost my left ovary when I was 28 due to the disease. One thing that has not been mentioned is the fact that when you use a tampon, fibers from that tampon are left behind. You can check out Tampax web site to confirm that. Every kind of tampon will leave fibers in your body. According to Tampax, your body supposedly flushes those fibers out within a few days. However, those fibers have been bleached and I’m not at all comfortable with the fact that something will leave bleached fibers behind.

There have been studies done that have questioned the link between tampons and endo, as well as dioxin and endo. While the research continues, I can’t say that there is or is not a link. I can, however, do my best to convince my daughter and other women around to be aware of what they are putting in their bodies and possible risks they are taking.

From the Endometriosis Association website…

Research by the Endometriosis Association revealed a startling link between dioxin (TCCD) exposure and the development of endometriosis. Dioxin is a toxic chemical byproduct of pesticide manufacturing, bleached pulp and paper products, and medical and municipal waste incineration. The EA discovered a colony of rhesus monkeys that had developed endometriosis after exposure to dioxin. 79% of the monkeys exposed to dioxin developed endometriosis, and, in addition, the more dioxin exposure, the more severe the endo.

Most tampons are bleached, dioxin is a by product of bleach. It’s great that many of you did not get endometriosis, but I’m not willing to take a chance with my girl. I have the disease, lost an ovary and have had severe pain. If you have not had the disease, it’s easy to just ignore it.

I use cloth pads- Luna Pads, Glad Rags. They are comfortable, reusable and do not leak. My daughter will use them. There are other products out there that are so much better for us, that do not contain bleach by products and do not leave fibers inside our bodies and also have not been questioned in the link to endometriosis.

I hope you and your daughter make the right decision for both of you. Best of luck to you.

March 6, 2009 at 1:43 pm
(10) Cday says:

I just want to say Thank You to all for the great information. It just so happens that I was questioning this a few weeks ago. I’m glad I came across this topic here and happy to see the responses!

March 6, 2009 at 3:31 pm
(11) Monet says:

Thanks for all of the information! Because of all of the pollutants and because I think “natural” flow should continue, I told my 12 year old that she could not use tampons! After reading about dioxin, I am certain that I made the right choice for now!

March 6, 2009 at 4:17 pm
(12) mrsmagloo says:

My daughter is 13 and has had her period a little over a year. We’ve had an open dialog going about getting her period, puberty, etc., from early on. Since she likes to swim, she was surprised to find that ANY tampon she tried felt “pinchy” and dry to her, even with lubricants. She didn’t let it get to her, and just uses the smallest junior size for when so goes swimming. We also use the organic cotton ones, too! I had her when I was 40, and believe me, we didn’t have nearly a 20th the amount of product choices girls have today!

March 7, 2009 at 10:22 am
(13) Ann says:

No matter what product your daughters choose, some of the anxiety about having a period can be eased by teaching the proper disposal method in a public restroom, at school, at a friend’s home, at the mall, and her own bathroom. Since the average woman uses 12,000 disposable feminine care products during her lifetime, it is sensible to encourage responsible practices at an early age.

Here are some helpful tips to share:

NEVER flush sanitary products (including tampons) down the toilet. (See below)

Always do your best to wrap up soiled products…do not just drop them in a waste can.

Remember no one else should have to view, smell or handle your discarded products.

Used sanitary items should never be left lying on the floor, even if there is not a disposal unit in the stall of a public restroom.

Immediately wash your hands after discarding sanitary products and using the bathroom.


Though toilets are a convenient and quick way to get rid of unwanted items, all feminine care products, which are made to absorb, should never be flushed. Though some tampon packages say “flushable,” the reality is that they do not immediately disperse, disintegrate or decompose.
Tampons clog toilets and septic tanks, and contribute to pipe blockages, which lead to unscheduled maintenance calls, time-consuming cleanup and expensive repairs.

Now there is a clean, easy, discreet way to dispose of feminine care products. SCENSIBLES® are specially designed personal-size pink flower patterned plastic bags with a pleasant fresh fragrance. The easy tie handle closure conceals the contents while antimicrobial additives inhibit the growth of odor causing bacteria. SCENSIBLES, made from biodegradable plastic, hold varying sizes of feminine care products and are a trouble-free alternative to flushing tampons down the toilet. SCENSIBLES are perfect for home use and to carry on the go!

March 8, 2009 at 7:01 pm
(14) rose says:

My 15 year old daughter has been using tampons since she started. Active and not comfortable in pads for daytime use. We talked about the risks and the responsibility of staying fresh… We found that Playtex has a “sport” variety that she likes …..

March 8, 2009 at 8:41 pm
(15) Amanda says:

ABSOLUTELY let her wear them. If she wants to have ANY kind of social life or sports life or active life, she will need them! My daughter started to use them at age 12… I wasn’t “ready” for that talk, but its timing was decided for me. She is now 15, and has thanked me numerous times for allowing her to wear them.

March 9, 2009 at 8:38 am
(16) sylvia toliver says:

Just happen to visiting this site and ran across this question and glad I did, I do have a 15year old daughter and we have had this discussion. I alternate between them both,depending on my activity, when I asked her if she has considered wearing tampons to my suprise she informed me that she has already tried them(I to keep a stockpile of feminie products in our bathroom) and she said she did not feel comfortable with them at all and I talked to her to see if see inserted them in the right way but she decided she did not like them,and I did not press any further. I am so glad to read all of the information,it is so helpful to me and my child, did not know there were reusable cloth napkins, I am willing to try them also!

March 9, 2009 at 12:34 pm
(17) Patty says:

Since I’ve no daughters, I must speak from my own experiences. Tampons vs. pads was never a contest for me. I did a lot of very, strenuous ballet training from 8 to 24 yrs. old. There’s something ‘not right’ about wearing a ‘mattress’ w/ tights and leotard. ; ) I think it’s a personal preference but reading the direction pamphlet in the Tampax, Playtex, etc. box are there for a reason. Please read them if you’re unsure about anything!

March 9, 2009 at 3:39 pm
(18) fanny says:

While I understand the problems with dioxins and the dangers of the fibers left behind etc. Keep in mind that there are many other things in your daily life that expose you to dioxin and other chemicals daily. Hell even our water has trace amounts of prescriptions drugs in it (ie prozac and contraceptives). We can’t completely escape chemicals, so if your making decisions based on the chemicals, think also about what you and your kids are eating (teflon is being investigated now as harmful and its not only in the pans you cook with but most rugs, clothing, etc)

March 9, 2009 at 3:43 pm
(19) Suntanna says:

Tampons do not lead to endometriosis. If that was the case tampons wouldnt be allowed! Wow and yes i can speak on this matter because I have endometriosis and have had 6 surgery’s in the past 6 years! This just really rubs me the wrong way. Way to scare people!

March 9, 2009 at 3:45 pm
(20) Su says:

There are many things they have came up with possibly linked but there not proven factors or we would have the cure. Dont you think.. so talk to your doctor about tampons.

March 12, 2009 at 3:23 pm
(21) Aliza G says:

My daughter is also 13 – she was 12 when she asked to be able to use tampons. As she went to sleepaway summer camp and swam almost every day I had to agree with her reasoning, if she thought that she could handle them.
Which she did – and does!
To me, it’s a personal choice that belongs to my daughter.

August 9, 2010 at 3:04 pm
(22) L.C. says:

I am 12, almost 13, and today I am having my second period. I got to try tampons for the first time and I must say, MAJOR improvement over pads. They feel REALLY awkward at first, but then you just get used to them. I use the Playtex Sport variety and I am fine with them. My mom used them for the majority of her life, but stopped because it increased her cramps. I haven’t really experienced any cramping yet so I’m fine. I don’t use them because my friends do, most of my friends haven’t even had their period yet! I use them because I hate the feeling of walking around with a scratchy pad in my underwear! This is much lighter and much nicer, it just feels REALLY weird putting it in and taking it out. But as I said, this is my first time, I’m sure it’ll get easier over time. If your daughter wants to use tampons because she is uncomfortable in pads, relax, let her experiment with brands and styles and figure out what SHE wants to do! It’s HER body, let her do what’s most comfortable and convenient to her.

October 28, 2010 at 2:32 am
(23) S.L says:

My daughter got her first period two days ago and yesterday had to do her ballet exam wearing a pair of panties and a pad – most embarassing for her. After reading all the comments I’m going to buy both, speak to her about the pros and cons of both and let her decide when she wants to try. I feel so sorry for her as her first period is very heavy, even leaking through all over her bed last night – I’m assuming this is normal as all girls/women are different?
I personally suffered with horrendous cramping up until I had children. She hasn’t been in pain and just hope that’s not coming too.

August 22, 2012 at 12:17 pm
(24) Dee says:

I am 13 and I started using tampons when I was 12, my mom had no problem when I told her I use them. I actually use tampons throughout my period (except at night) I think the choice should be up to your daughter.

September 1, 2012 at 12:46 am
(25) maddie s says:

maybe you should just be honest with her and tell her that you aren’t comfterble with the fact of her wearing a tampon and if she just doesn’t respect your decission tell her that, is the choice you have made as the parent. or you could talk it over with her ask her WHY? and if you decide to let her tell her the risk and show her how to propperly dispose of them, and the propper use. im 13 and use tampons it is tottaly up to you if you let your child.

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