Is She Too Young for Tampons?

by Feb 13, 2024Periods

In the world before the Internet, how did our mothers know so much about staying healthy? They definitely did the best they could. They instructed us in their health tips, and we accepted them as facts. 


Do you remember any of these “mom-said-so”-isms? 

❌ If you go out in the cold with wet hair, you’ll get pneumonia.

❌ Cracking your knuckles will make them big.

❌ If you swallow chewing gum, it will take 7 years to digest.

❌ Swimming too soon after eating will give you cramps and you could drown!

 I cherish the wisdom my mom passed down to me, but I also chuckle at the “body” and “medical” advice she dished out with GREAT confidence but ZERO evidence (btw – all mom facts above are false)! 

 One of the things she told me when I first started my period was that I was too young to use tampons. And after more than twenty years as a gynecologist, it’s clear she wasn’t the only one saying that. I hear it all the time from concerned moms.

“Can she use tampons this young?” 

At the same time, some of us are determined to be more forward-thinking than our mothers, so we might be tempted to say, “GO FOR IT – ALL YOU WANT!” 

But that would start a NEW myth that could be dangerous.

So the medically accurate answer?

Yes, but with caution.

What’s the worry?

Let me say first and foremost, there is no worry about taking away “virginity” or harming her delicate anatomy. Tampons are a hygiene tool that have nothing to do with sex or virginity (the concept of virginity is another whole blog…). And by the time she starts her period, her vagina is big enough for a tampon.

For her health, the only concern is toxic shock syndrome (TSS), a very rare but serious bacterial infection that has been associated with tampon use and is more common in younger users. For more on that, just click on the links to understand TSS, its warning signs, and how to reduce her risk for it. 

If you care about the WHY….

The vagina takes years to mature. In the time between her first breast bud and her first period, estrogen is helping to thicken the walls of the vagina and encouraging the growth of healthy bacteria that will control the pH and create the natural and healthy balance of “good” bacteria that we refer to as the microbiome (yes, the vagina has one, too). Even after she starts menstruating, the vaginal microbiome will continue to mature for several more years before her vagina has the protection of a mature microbiome and local immune system that helps fight the bacteria that can cause TSS. 

So what’s safe?

Although we don’t have specific studies examining the impact of tampons on the maturing vaginal microbiome, most experts recommend that for the first few years of menstruation, girls should avoid using tampons longer than needed, and should not use them around the clock. I know that’s not very specific, but the main idea is to “limit leaving things in the vagina” as much as possible so the microbiome can keep maturing without disruption through the early years of menstruating.

Prepare her

If she's ready to use tampons, make sure she knows how they work, tips for inserting, and how to use them safely. We have all of that covered in our Class for Girls: All About Tampons 

Organic or not?

Finally, if you're asking that – you're in good company. It's one of the most common questions we hear related to products. The answer might surprise you, but we've got that covered in this blog: Are Period Products Harming Our Daughters?  

Let’s keep looking to science and asking the questions that allow us to raise informed, prepared, and healthy daughters – without myths or reckless abandon!


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