How Often Should You Change Your Tampon?

Menstrual periods are a fact of life for most women. Females contend with a monthly period from puberty to menopause, but there are a variety of ways to deal with the flow.

Wearing tampons is one of the most convenient ways to handle a period. They are relatively unseen in comparison to pads, and you can keep them in longer.

How often should you change your tampon? The frequency that a tampon is changed may have serious consequences. Keep reading to find out when to change out tampons and what happens if you wait too long.

Changing Frequency

The changing frequency of tampons depends on a variety of factors, which may include:

  • flow
  • activities
  • absorbency

So how often should you change your tampon? Generally speaking, tampons should be changed after between 4 to 6 hours use. However, there are some exceptions to the rule.

For example, if there is leakage after a few hours, it may be from a heavy flow. Not only should women switch to a higher absorbency tampon but it may also need to be changed more frequently.

Another instance where a tampon may be changed before the 4-to-6-hour mark is during certain activities. The string on a tampon is very absorbent, so any liquids that splash on it from the outside may creep into the vagina via the string. This can happen when you’re using the bathroom or when you’re swimming.

Now, it isn’t a hard rule that tampons need to be changed after those activities. However, for hygienic reasons, it is a good idea to put into practice.

As a rule, 8 hours is the maximum time limit for a tampon to be changed. That may leave a lot of leeway for most activities, including sleep. However, if you decide to wear a tampon while sleeping, make sure to put it in just before going to bed, sleep for no more than 8 hours, and change it as soon as you wake up.

What Is TSS?

Many tampon-users may have heard of the dangers of TSS. Toxic Shock Syndrome is a rare complication that could be life-threatening. These complications may be the result of infections from certain bacterial types.

TSS is usually attributed to toxins produced by Staphylococcus or group A streptococcus bacterium. Although anyone can get TSS, it’s mostly associated with women who use superabsorbent tampons.

Symptoms of TSS

Some symptoms and signs of toxic shock syndrome a person may experience include:

  • vomiting or diarrhea
  • sudden high fever
  • developing a sunburn-like rash, especially on the palms and soles
  • low blood pressure
  • muscle aches
  • redness in the eyes, throat, and mouth
  • confusion
  • headaches
  • seizure

The risk of getting TSS has declined in the United States. That’s because tampon manufacturers no longer use designs and materials that were previously associated with TSS. Furthermore, the FDA requires manufacturers to use appropriate labeling and measurement for tampons and include printed guidelines on tampon boxes.

Safety and Prevention

Toxic shock syndrome may be prevented if you use tampons correctly. The following tips for safe tampon use should help you:

1. Change Frequently

Remember to change tampons frequently. At the very least, change it out every 6 to 8 hours. Women with light flows should still adhere to this guideline. Don’t be tempted to keep a tampon in all day.

Bacteria thrive in moist, warm environments, so the longer it’s there, the greater the risk of TSS.

2. Use Different Absorbency Tampons

Women usually don’t have one type of flow every day of their period, so one tampon definitely does not fit all. Keep other absorbencies on hand as the flow changes.

Using super absorbency tampons, especially when they’re not needed, may increase your chances of TSS. Save the supers for the first day or two when the flow is at its heaviest. Afterward, switch to regular and then light-absorbency tampons towards the end of the week.

Furthermore, using super-absorbent tampons when it’s not needed may do more harm than good, especially for lighter flows. These types may dry out vaginal tissue, causing cracks and tears that could increase the likelihood of infection.

How to tell which absorbency is the right one? If it’s still mostly white when it’s removed, move down to a lower absorbency. On the other hand, if there’s leakage on the underwear, you may want to try a higher one.

3. Wash Your Hands Before and After

Washing your hands may be automatic after a trip to the restroom. However, hand washing should also occur before tampon insertion. The last thing anyone wants is to risk contaminating the tampon as it’s being inserted.

4. Torn Wrappers Are a “No-Go”

Tampon wrappers can go through a lot of abuse when they’re kept in a purse or makeup bag. Sometimes that abuse is too much for those delicate wrappers. Torn wrappers could potentially lead to contaminated tampons, and that’s a recipe for a nasty infection.

5. Don’t Wear Them the Day Before or After a Period

As tempting as it may be, it’s a bad idea to put a tampon in “just in case”. Inserting a tampon into a vagina that’s not on a menstrual cycle may change the natural environment. It can also dry it out, causing micro tears and cracks.

Instead of using a tampon, try panty liners and period panties. It may not be the best solution, but it reduces your risk of unwanted vaginal infections.

Final Thought

Tampons give women the freedom to do activities while on their period. They’re a convenient and discrete way to handle the monthly flow. How often should you change your tampon, however, may depend on your particular needs.

Generally, you should change your tampon every 4 to 6 hours but not exceed 8 hours at a time. Some circumstances, though, may necessitate more frequent changes, but it’s a bad idea to leave it in too long.

Lastly, it’s important to use the right tampon absorbency at the right time. Read the directions that are printed on tampon boxes and make sure to watch the clock. It is always better to stay safe and remove them early than risk keeping them in for too long.