We’ve all been there: You’re walking through that daunting “feminine hygiene” aisle. There is an endless wash of colors, swirls, and words like “super plus” and “circular absorbency.” It’s overwhelming. So here is a guide for tampon selection to make those trips to the drugstore quick and easy.
When choosing the right tampon there are a few things you have to think about: size of the tampon, the applicator, and the brand.
Most tampons come in four different sizes: light, regular, super, and super plus. As a general rule of thumb, the heavier your period is, the bigger your tampon should be.
For example, on your heaviest days, you should be using super or super plus tampons. On your lighter days, you should be using regular or light tampons. Most periods will start heavy and lighten each day. To figure out the perfect tampon cocktail for your body, I suggest buying the multi-pack (the box that comes with super, regular, and light tampons) so that you can switch sizes as your period lightens. You know it is time to move down a size when, after four to six hours, a tampon is not fully soaked.
As you become more accustomed to your period, you can customize for your own personal experience. It is also crucial that you listen to your body. If it hurts to put in a super tampon, you shouldn’t be using super tampons. If you always leak when you play sports, maybe try a size up or add a panty liner for extra protection.
What is most important to remember is that it takes time to understand your body and your period, so be patient. Give yourself at least five to six cycles to figure out the right size for you.
The next step in tampon mastery is the applicator. There are three basic types: plastic, cardboard, and no applicator. Plastic applicators offer the smoothest entry and are great for first-timers. Cardboard applicators are shaped the same as their plastic counterparts, but are more environmentally friendly.
Cardboard applicators tend to be harder to insert than plastic applicators, but are a great choice if you are on a budget or want an easy way to help out the environment.
Finally, there are tampons without an applicator, such as o.b. tampons. These tampons are inserted into the vagina with your fingers, and while this can be messy and tricky the first few times, it is also the cheapest and smallest option. No applicator tampons are particularly great for travel.
Last but not least, you have to choose a brand. Personally, I tend towards drugstore brands to save a few dollars, but this isn’t always the best choice for everybody.
The only way to find the right brand for you is to try out a few. Maybe you really like the shape of Tampax Sport or the compactness of U by Kotex. Different brands offer different scents, package coloring, absorbency rates, and shapes. And don’t be afraid to read the small print! Tampon boxes often outline their particular strengths right on the packaging.
So there you have it, vagina warriors, a guide to conquering those terrifying tampon shelves. May your applicators be smooth and your tampons absorbent. Good luck!
Cover image courtesy of Shutterstock.