So you’ve heard it a dozen times “tweens shouldn’t use tampons” but is it true?
How old should girls be to use tampons?
We’ve been doing some deeper digging into the topic to see how much truth lies behind this statement. What are the risks and concerns you need to think about before giving a newly menstruating’s girls tampons? And what type of tampon is right for a pre-teen girl?
The slightly terrifying truth – for us and our girls – is that girls are getting their periods much younger. The average age range is now thought to be between 9 to 12 years-old – spot on over the tween age group – not teenagers as you may be lead to believe.
Our tweens still seem so young for this conversation but remember, “the talk” will likely need to occur earlier than when you were a child. From around the first signs of puberty – such as growing buds or the first pubic hairs – would be an appropriate point to start chatting to your tween girl about periods and reproduction.
You will no doubt cover off with them the basics of sanitary napkins or pads, period pants and hygiene during their period; however, it would be remiss to completely skip over the topic of tweens and tampons during the initial discussions on managing their monthly periods.
Is There a “Right Age” Tweens Should Start Using Tampons?
Despite it seemingly being a common conversation thread that tampons are not appropriate for tweens, some deeper digging we have found this is certainly not the case, from a medical stand point at least.
Let’s talk about how they work and why a tween might want to proceed with caution.
How Do Tampons Work?
Tampons are oblong or cylindrical shaped and made of soft, compacted cotton like material. They are inserted inside the vagina and the vagina wall holds the tampon in place. There is a string attached to the bottom of the tampon so it is easy to gently tug and remove when it has been used.
Whilst inside the vagina, the tampon absorbs the flow. When filled, a string hangs from beneath that should be tugged and the tampon will slide out for disposal.
What Sort of Sanitary Items Should I Get My Daughter For Her First Period?
Most parents worry a lot about finding the best pad that will work for their tweens. And yes, your tween daughter will need you to educate her on pads and tampons before the time arrives to adjust comfortably to the changes of puberty.
Whilst the majority of tweens are likely to be happy starting with sanitary pads or period pants, there may be occasions they’ll feel more comfortable if they use a tampon. Swimming is the primary reason most tween girls are likely to want to explore this option, but it can simply be personal preferences too, especially if they know mom or other ladies in their family use tampons.
It’s important when you first start discussing sanitary products to speak about each in a positive light. They will have pros and cons in everyone’s individual situation, she will need to decide which suits her best.
Types of Tampons for Tweens
So if you’ve decided tampons are something your tween would like to try, its important to get them the right size to fit their growing bodies and flow needs.
Some come with an applicator which is a little more “hands off” but might require a little more time to get use to how it works and finding the right position. Other brands are manually inserted with a finger to find the right spot. Regardless of what method, discuss with her the importance of hand washing and hygiene when using tampons.
Having the right sort of tampon for a younger girl will really help too. A super overnight maxi flow tampon is no way to introduce your poor little girl to the years that lie ahead!
We strongly suggest you buy more than one brand of everything at the start – be it santirary pads, periods pants or tampons – she will need to experiment to find the one that’s right for her. It may well be a combination of brands and hygiene methods that works best.
How Do I talk My Tween Through Inserting Her First Tampon
The first time using a tampon an be an awkward moment for a pre-teen or teenage girl to deal with (and mom!). She needs to be comfortable with the method or insertion and removal.
It might feel simple once you’ve done it hundreds of times, but can you actually remember back to that very first moment? Here we’re going to talk you through step by step with handy tips for a pre-teen:
Top Tips for Trying Tween Tampons
- You should talk through together the angle of her body before she heads into the bathroom. The packaging will have diagrams too, to assist this discussion.
- Get several types of tampon. With or without and applicator, try several different brands. Its only through trial and error she will discover what works best.
- Applicator tampons may work better for a beginner trying to find the right position; plastic applicators may feel more comfortable to start than cardboard applicators.
- Experiment with positions. She can try one leg on the toilet or bathtub, crouching or even lying down while she find her way to a comfy spot.
- A small mirror may assist her actual see what she’s doing down there, though its best she practices by feel.
- Reminder her that if its not comfortable, its probably not in right. You’d rather she goes through more than necessary at the start to get the position right.
- It is best to test tampons when she’s actually on her period. Testing without she may find her vagina is too dry. One way to combat this is to try a few drops of lube or Vaseline, it may make sliding things in easier (if you look around, there are a few non-sexual brands out there!)
- Even if she has a heavier flow, start with a “lite” or “light” tampon until she’s worked out her technique; they are slimmer and less intimidating for a beginner. Once she has the basics down you can move to the right flow level.
- She should only use the level of absorbency required for the flow, not stronger “just in case”.
- Even using a tampon, your girl may fill more confident if she also wears a panty liner. Panty liners are much smaller and more discreet than a period pad so should be an almost unnoticeable extra layer of protection for your girl.
- If the panty liner is filling with more than spotting, she may need a stronger absorbency tampon.
- Its best not to start testing out a tampon immediately before a big event where your daughter might feel under huge pressure to “get it right”. Its not something anyone really wants mom hanging there for a live demo, but it will help her if you’re outside the door for some moral reassurance.
- It’s essential when introduction your tween to tampons that you discuss the importance of hygiene. This includes not just hand washing before and after but when to replace your tampon. The FDA recommends changing your tampon every four to eight hours.
- You should make sure she is aware of what toxic shock syndrome is, but assure them that with correct tampon use, it can be avoided. Commonly associated with prolonged ultra-absorbent tampon use during menstruation, it is cause by the release of toxins and an overgrowth of the bacteria Staphylococcus aureus – staph for short. TSS can be fatal is symptoms go unchecked.
- Avoid products that are heavily scented. As much as its tempting to think they’ll “mask” smells, they can cause irritation and upset the pH balance of the vagina.
- Don’t forget as well as insertion, there’s removal to deal with! You may need to clock-watch and remind a little at the start.
- Removal is an easy tug on the string, but she understandably may get distressed if it hiding or a little bit stuck “up there” – it happens. And yup, you wouldn’t be the first mom to have to go on a rescue mission. Stay calm!
- Do ask her to look at the used tampon on the way out, even if she finds it grouse at first. If its still quite white after 4 to 8 hours of wearing, she may been to step down to a lighter flow tampon.
- It’s important to reiterate to your tween that it’s not appropriate to flush any type of sanitary products down the toilet. While pads are exceptionally troublesome, equally its not appropriate to flush tampons. If they don’t have a sanitary bin or trash can close to hand, ensure they have some disposable baggies.
- Tampons should only ever be used once. The FDA does not have any approved reusable tampons.
- If it doesn’t work out the first time, try again in a few months – or a year. As your girl grows in maturity and familiarity with her body she may feel more confident to give it a go.
Reasons For Tweens to Avoid Tampons
So what are all these arguments against tampons?
At the very start your tweens periods are likely to be irregular. As much as they may find it unpleasant to start with, they will want to be able to check on their flow and understand how much they are bleeding which is easier to gauge with a sanitary pad.
Tweens are also at an age where they are still prone to forget things; it’s essential for hygiene and safety they do not wear a tampon for too long.
Overall, let your girl guide the discussion. The start of her flow and dealing with changing pads, the sight, the smell of the blood can already be overbearing for young girls. It may take some time for them to gain confidence touching themselves “down there”. Tampons do require more manual touching than other sanitary methods.
If you or your tween girl are still nervous, talk to your Doctor. Perhaps with their reassurance and talking through the pros and cons with you can both get more comfortable with this step. If not, there’s no problem to continue with a sanitary method that does suit.
Features of Tween Tampons
- Tween and teen tampons are similar in design and function to regular tampons but they are designed to fit smaller bodies.
- Remember, “slim” and “light” aren’t always the same thing. It depends on the material they’re made from. A light flow tampon is less absorbent, but “slim tampons” can still have high absorbency.
- Preteens may also be interested to try “sports” marketed tampons, particularly if they’re active sporty girls. The big selling point of these tampons is “leak protection”, they are designed to leak less – though generally many beginners report them feeling more comfortable.
- Applicator tampons may be easier for a beginner to use, but as there are more materials, in the long run they cost more and are not as good for the environment. Discuss the pros and cons with your tween.
- Some tampons come with cardboard applicators which are more environmentally friendly, though may feel a little more uncomfortable for a beginner to use as they’re more rigid..
7 Best Easy-to-Use Tampons for Tweens
So now we know what our tween needs, what are the leading brands of “teen tampons” ideal for beginners to wear?
We’ve included here some leading brands of tampons for beginners. All are smaller in size and made for lighter flows. As we mentioned above, once her technique improves and she’s comfortable with how they feel inserted, she can move on to a heavier flow or “Super” tampon.
Tampax Pearl tampons are great for tweens just starting out. There simple design makes them comfortable to insert. Once she has the hang of things, you can increase the size to suit her flow. We Love that they come in multipacks, ideal for your changing flow throughout a period. They’re one of the only brands we can find that sell Light tampons in big boxes!
A popular choice for active girls, U by Kotex Fitness tampon should give them more reassurance against leaks. The regular size is not too intimidating for a beginner as it comes in a compact applicator fit. You’ll also get a small compact carry case.
Similarly, Playtex Sport is another popular tween and teen tampon option. The “360 protection” means the tampon goes in small but expands in all directions when absorbing. The contoured tips makes it easier to insert.
Got a girl with a planet-first approach? Good on you! We love that these regular flow tampons contain no nasties, no perfumes, dyes and chlorine bleaching, responsibly sourced cotton and plant-based applicator. Definitely include these when you are seeking the perfect tampon brand for your tween.
U by Kotex Click Compact tampons are a good starting point for any tween or teen. These applicator tampons will ease their journey into womanhood with their easy applicator system. Simply pull the lower end once comfortably in place, they’ll expand to a regular sized tampon.
OB Organic can be a popular choice for beginners as they tend to be a little smaller than other brands, though the lightest flow their organics range covers is regular. Free from perfumes and dyes, and complete with applicators from renewable resources, we’d certainly strongly consider this in your tweens tampon repertoire.
If you’re seeking something even smaller to start, try OB Pro Comfort Minis (no applicator).
The band name may not be as well known, but if it’s variety you’re after to test out her flow size and get her used to the tampon insertion process, Cora is a great starting point for a tween. These organic tampons come with an applicator and three different sizes for throughout her period, but definitely start with the lite, the supers can be intimidating.
Don’t Forget a Tampon Carry Pouch!
Unfortunately, periods can start anywhere, any time (even if you use a period app). Your tween will undoubtedly find she needs to deal with her periods while out of the house. A cute and discreet tampon purse is a must for her sanitary items. Here are a few ideas to try:
More Frequently Asked Questions About Tweens and Tampons
If you go swimming without any feminine hygiene products, the water pressure can temporarily slow your flow but not stop it completely. The only way to be fully protected against leaks while swimming is using a tampon or a menstrual cup. You should, however, explore with your daughter the added protection she can get from using period swimwear.
If they are inserted correctly, a tampon should not hurt to use. It may take a little practice for your tween to correctly position her tampon to not feel any pain or discomfort. If she’s in pain, the tampon should be removed immediately.
There’s no recommended youngest age to start using tampons, be gauged by your girl’s willingness to try and maturity to correctly use a tampon with hygiene in mind.
Using a tampon can stretch the hymen but won’t tear it. Its important to note that you can only “lose your viriginity” by sexual activity. In some social settings the breaking of the hymen is seen as a sign of sexual activity but the hymen can tear at any time, even through sports and activities.
Yes, if they are comfortable with how to insert a tampon, understand the correct hygiene methods for inserting and removing. They must remember to change their tampon regularly then can commence using tampons as soon as they get their period.
Organizing your tween with her first period kit might feel like the easy part, but getting to a brand and fit of tampon that’s perfect for her is entirely another challenge.
We hope this tween tampon guide has helped you find the perfect fit for your girl or at least prepared you, and her, with the facts you need for when this important moment in her life arrives.
Let us know in the comments below if you’ve found the perfect fit for your pre-teen!