PSA: Kotex Security tampons

By Mir
January 9, 2012

“I would never blog this,” I told her, after.

“What? You HAVE to blog about it!” she said. “People should KNOW. It’s DANGEROUS.” I asked if she was sure, and she said yes. So please be mindful of the fact that my easily-mortified teenager gave me the green light on this one, and let’s acknowledge first and foremost that she 1) is a rockstar for overcoming possible embarrassment to let me share and 2) has delicate little feelings which I would ask you not to hurt if you feel the need to comment. Also, if you are male and ESPECIALLY if you are related to my teenager (Otto, my dad, and her dad who is pretending not to read my blog), maybe skip this one.

To begin our story, let us hearken back to the days of young teenage Mir. It was a different place, a different time. (Namely, it was the Stone Age.) When I got my first period I was ABSOLUTELY THRILLED (why? I don’t know), and I also used tampons right from the beginning and thought it was no big deal.

But my girl and I are a little different in this respect.

To put it plainly: Chickadee heard me say the WORD “tampon” and her brain melted and oozed out her ears. Proclamations such as “NEVER” and “I’M NOT PUTTING ANYTHING IN THERE” and the like were uttered. This was, of course, perfectly fine. Not everyone has to use tampons, after all.

Life continued on in this way for quite a while.

Eventually, however, things changed. Someone realized that, say, track practice while wearing a pad might not be so very comfortable. Someone came to me with GREAT TREPIDATION and said that JUST MAYBE she might POSSIBLY be willing to try using tampons. As long as it didn’t hurt. As long as she knew exactly what to expect.

Naturally, we took to YouTube.

First we watched this:

(Very informative!)

Then we watched this:

(Chickadee asked me if I had to watch that when I was in school. Apparently she thinks I’m 80.)

Eventually it seemed that we were both well-informed and also quite giggly, and then the issue was only that we needed to purchase some tampons.

“I always used Tampax,” I told her. “Plus they make a really skinny one called Slender Regular. I’ll get you some of those.”

“I have some tampons already,” she said. “They came in one of those free sample things. Let’s see what kind those are.”

Here let’s back up once again. Bear in mind that I had a hysterectomy years ago, so my tampon days are a distant memory. But I always used Tampax and had no issues. I used both Playtex and OB exactly once each, finding both of them nearly impossible to remove, and I went back to Tampax. (You’re welcome for sharing.) (You’re welcome for this entire post, really.) The point is: I was mindful of the fact that some tampons are harder to remove than others. THIS IS IMPORTANT LATER.

Chickadee brought me a couple of Kotex tampons. Kotex makes tampons? I had no idea. And I knew nothing about them. But she was eager to try it out so we decided that she would try one of those and then we’d go to the store and buy some.

I sat in the bathroom (with my back to her) for moral support. Poor kid, she was really nervous. I said soothing and helpful things like “Don’t put it in your nose” and “If you taste cotton, you’ve gone too far.” (I may have also said things like “Deep breaths, try to relax.”)

It ended up being no big deal! She was clearly relieved that—as promised—a properly inserted tampon cannot be felt at all.

We went to do our weekly grocery run, and she suggested that we go ahead and buy a box of the kind of tampon she was wearing, given that it had all gone so well. Plus, they were a lot cheaper than the Tampax. So we did.

These are the tampons we bought: Kotex Security. They are surprisingly affordable; like, they were the cheapest tampons on the shelf. That should’ve been my first clue.

Unfortunately, I was a little distracted, because I was busy trying to lecture my kid about how DO NOT BUY DEODORANT TAMPONS OR PADS EVER THEY ARE POISON FOR YOUR GIRLY BITS and she was looking around nervously and hissing, “I know. I KNOW! STOP!” I love bonding this way at the store!

We came home from grocery shopping and put everything away. Life continued as per normal. And a few hours later, I was asked to come provide some moral support yet again, for The Removal.

Well, the first part had gone so well, I was expecting this to be another “Wow, that was easy” experience. HAHAHAHAHA. I was about to be smacked down with guilt and remorse.


She couldn’t get it out.

And then, of course, she started freaking out. Because of course she did. That’s scary, you know? With each passing moment, she’s becoming convinced that she’s going to have to live the rest of her life with this tampon stuck inside of her, right up until she dies of Toxic Shock Syndrome. SHE WATCHED THE MOVIES, MAN. SHE KNOWS IT’LL KILL YOU. And I am trying to remain calm and soothing, but you know, this kid can kind of be a drama queen, and I think her whole “it hurts” and “I can’t” may just be her… being her.

After a prolonged drama which I will spare you (except for this pro tip: warm bath), the offender was indeed removed successfully. But I feared my kiddo was scarred for life. And I kept apologizing, as if I had run after her and squirted crazy glue into her crotch, causing all this fuss.

Later that evening, she came to me and told me she’d unwrapped another one to look at it. And it was then that the Mama Bear Guilt really kicked in. Because… I figured out what “Security” means to Kotex.

Here’s one of these tampons:

I was naturally concerned to discover that this particular tampon appeared to have… a mouth?

We flipped it over to investigate further:

Soooo… every tampon I’ve ever used has the string stitched in along the cotton, ending at the bottom. But Kotex, apparently, has a factory somewhere where enslaved 6-year-olds just grab a hunk of cotton, tie some twine AROUND it, and then feed that string through the handy hole for “security.” Honestly, Monkey could make a better tampon than this.

Can you guess what this nifty setup does when you try to remove the tampon?


Oh, these tampons offer security, alright. The security of making sure that your teenager will never, ever, EVER even THINK about having sex. Because if that’s what happens with a tampon, well… yeah. (And really, I’m all for discouraging the young’uns on this one, but I prefer to do it the old-fashioned way, by reminding ’em that babies are loud and messy and no method of birth control is 100% effective.)

Dear Kotex,

Fuck you.


My poor baby is going to be in therapy for the rest of her life, at this rate.


  1. Jill W.

    Poor Chickie! When I was young (also back in the stone age- remember those wheels we invented- good times), it took me years to decide to finally try tampons instead of pads. An experience like that would have probably put me off of tampons for a few more years. Hoepfully she will not let teh experience deter her from trying a different and less traumatizing brand.

  2. Angela

    Um Yeah! I was intimidated by them too and didn’t start using them til I was like 17 or so (slender regulars all the way!). Then it was a life saver!!!! So my sister was afraid of them. Really afraid. In college she had cycle issues and survived a 27 day heavy cycle with PADS!!!!! Finally a friend and I threw her in our bathroom, sat at the door and coached her through the door. Mercy, that was hilarious. The thing is though, she NEVER WENT BACK! Go Chickadee for being brave and hopefully surviving the trauma…it will feel so much better. Just go get the blasted tampax!

  3. Amy

    Please let Chickie know that I wasn’t able to even insert a tampon until college and that was only after one of my roommates stood outside my bathroom door giving instructions. 10 years later I only wear them when I most definitely have to because I still am too sensitive about the entire process. Also, the only brand that my super delicate body will allow me to use is the Playtex Sport.

    Also, you’re probably going to be able to write a book from the tampon horror stories you’re going to get in the comments :-).

  4. JP

    Owwww, Chickadee!!!!! My lady-bits are cringing!

    I have used OB brand from day one – and I am over 40. I love the no-applicator thing (I know it grosses some people out), mainly for the fact it is easy to throw a couple in your pocket without it being obvious since I am not a purse carrier. Hopefully this won’t stop Chickadee from trying another brand, as much as pad technology has improved (anyone remember the belts?), tampons are so much easier in my opinion.

  5. Laura

    I never used tampons (my Mom is a nurse and was paranoid of TSS) until I had an emergency situation at my friend’s house. I spent the next 10 minutes in the bathroom, in tears because the damn thing wouldn’t go in. Did you know ladies have 3 holes AND two of them are too small for tampons AND if you are using a tampon for the first time AND no one ever showed you how to use them you are going to freak out AND cry AND sob because it just won’t go in AND eventually give up AND beg your mom to come pick you up so you can be at home with your pads? I learned it that day! Did I mention I was 15 at the time and had had my period for 4 years by then? FUN!! I learned that day that it is helpful to read instructions AND to take a hand mirror and get to know the lady bits. I was far more successful after that and now switch back and forth, depending on my mood and the activities I’ll be engaging in that day (Zumba with a pad is NOT comfortable or fun.)

    Please, feel free to laugh until you cry over this reply, God knows I have.

  6. Kayt

    WTF, Kotex? I am so sorry, Chickadee! Tampax really is magical and NOT McGuyvered from leftover Christmas toys, really!

    If it makes you feel better, here’s my embarassing tampon story:

    I was twelve and home alone when I started my period for the first time. I went into my mother’s bathroom, and the only thing she had in there was a box of tampons. There was only half a box left, so they didn’t have that handy instruction sheet, and this was pre-Youtube. And I might have left the cardboard tube in there. For two hours. By the time my mother came home, I was in tears from the discomfort. She helped me remove it, explained the concept of an applicator, walked out of the bathroom, and promptly laughed until she literally cried. Thanks, mom.

  7. Sara

    Is it weird that all I could think of when the strangely androgynous nurse started drawing on the picture of the inner lady bits was heiroglypics? Dude! Our inner lady bits look like an evil ram!
    Good luck to Chickie. And for what it’s worth, I’m cursing Kotex for Chickie right along with you!

  8. Lara

    Ooo. Poor chickadee! That’s outrageous! I loved the freedom of tampons as a teen but now I use a Diva cup and I highly recommend it. I love that I am not burdening the environment with all that tampon waste. And after the initial heavy day, I only have to change the cup morning and night so it’s even more convenient. Does take a little getting used to though, the insertion part I mean and I had to trim the end for comfort. How brave of Chickadee to share this story.

  9. Alison C

    I don’t know how Chickie is coping but I think I need therapy after reading this.

  10. Megan

    ALL the information I got about having a period came from a borrowed copy of Are You There God, It’s Me, Margaret. Which meant I thought pads still came with a belt and hooks and I don’t know what sort of harnessing system. No. Clue. At. All. I also believed that tampons were naughty (although my Mum had a box of ginormous ones under her sink – but she was MARRIED that was DIFFERENT). Took ages to figure it all out and when I did it was done on my own, shaking with nerves, hiding in the shower in the basement bathroom. Good times.

    Chickie – good for you, good for you for having the courage to try and the even greater courage (and self-confidence) to get the story out there. You’re awesome. I wish I’d had a Mir-type mum, and some of your Chickie-type kick-assedness when I was a teen!

  11. Christina

    I can’t stand Kotex either. Tampax all the way for me too! Poor Chickadee, I hope she gives it a try again with the slender ones. And brave young lady for letting this be shared so others can avoid the same experience!

  12. Katie in MA

    Blah! Oh, Chickie. You are a ROCK STAR for making sure other women know about this – I never would have believed a company could be so sodding STUPID if I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes! Not only am I never going to buy Kotex, but I am going to make sure my friends all know about this AND I’m writing Kotex a strongly worded email. (Although it probably won’t be worded as perfectly as your Mom’s.)

  13. Michele

    I’m so old when I started I had to use the belt with the pad. Do not google it. Talk about uncomfortable. Why oh why did it take so long for someone to invent tampax tampons???
    That is a horrible mess that Kotex made. Poor Chickadee, I am glad she shared tho, because my daughter will be starting any day and now I know what NOT to buy. Thank you for sharing.

  14. Nelson's Mama

    Poor Chickie!

    Three of us here in this house, we all prefer different brands (crazy, huh?). I’m with PJ and always use OB, love that they hide in my hand or pocket when I need to run to the restroom. I hate to carry a purse with me – it just screams “I’m on the rag” ;-)

    Older daughter uses Playtex Sport.

    My younger daughter uses Kotex U – it’s in a black box and they are wrapped in neon packaging. She’s been known to shove the entire box in her backpack – which tickles me no end. Wish I’d been that confident and nonchalant – I was totally mortified that someone would find a tampon in my purse during high school (see OB above)!

  15. Morgaine Fey

    First off, that is the best idea for a faux vagina EVER. Who thinks “I am going to shove this up my nose to demonstrate.” ? Because, awesome!

    Massive props to chickie for trying out a new way of hanging out with her girly bits. I no longer use tampons (I am now officially a diva cup/luna pad user) but I remember when I started. Playtex slim ALL THE WAY when you are younger. You are narrower then and the tiny little applicator is plastic and FAR MORE comfy than cardboard and the smaller bit of cotton sits in your system better.

    Another helpful hint, tampons remove the best when full. If you are trickling that day, use something else. I found a painful sort of “stuck” sensation when trying to remove ones with one little spot.

    Cheers Chickadee for letting Mir show us how Kotex is manufactured and sharing your story!


  16. elz

    OMG. Seriously. Can not find words. Ouch and ha and ooohhh and Sweet Jesus, I have to go through that twice, all running through my head.

    Consider me warned, I shall never purchase those. Amen.

    Poor Chickie, I hope you gave the child some ice cream. Or a pony. Or a pony covered in ice cream, with a unicorn on top!

  17. Lauren

    I ran the NYC marathon in 2006 when I was 2….3? I had never been able to use a tampon but had to learn THE NIGHT BEFORE because that’s when my period decided to come roaring on back (I guess this is fairly common when you’re in the taper phase of training? Wow, “taper phase of training” sounds weird in the context of talking about learning to use tampons….). Like a commenter above, I FINALLY had success with Playtex Sport, but had it not been a straight up TAMPON EMERGENCY, I don’t know that I ever really would have learned.

    Chickie, you are tough and awesome and brave.

  18. Dr. Liz

    My mother never used a tampon a day in her life, and given that she didn’t really like talking about anything related to ANYTHING below one’s navel, I had to learn from a very thorough ‘Women’s Health’ instructor in 7th grade. I can’t remember the woman’s name, but she should be beatified for coaxing a great many of us through the who thing. (And I never used a pad again. Ever.) That said, Kotex is evil – I can’t believe that ‘design’ – UGH!

  19. Missy

    When I got “the talk” from my mom (some 20-ish years ago), she gave me that garter belt / huge pad thingy from her pre-hysterectomy days. It wasn’t until those ran out that we discovered the miracle of stick-on pads! Glorious! No more feeling like you have a rolled up towel shoved between your legs!
    It wasn’t until many years later that I braved a tampon.
    Way to go Chickie – brave girl!

  20. cheryl

    Yiiiiiii, that old video sent me back to 6th grade and gave me the heebie jeebies all over again. We had to watch a film called “Growing Up and Liking It.” Ackkkk. Belts and shifting pads and safety pins that opened on you and then, finally, one graduated to tampons. Gah. Let me just say, menopause rocks.

  21. Lori N

    Chickadee — thank-you for the PSA! My daughter is 12yo & we are gearing up around here for the onset of her period. I think I’m going to quickly pop upstairs to the bathroom and double check that we don’t have these in the house. (Mir — I too survived many summers thanks to Tampax slender regulars….but I can’t find anywhere that sells them around here. Not pleased!)

  22. Mandy

    Mir, You should send this entire post to Kotex’s CEO or whoever is in charge. That’s awful. You have raised a brave girl!

  23. Jen

    I think it was Kotex that allowed me to experience the JOY of a string coming off in my hand. The tampon itself was NOT in my other hand. Ahem. Thankfully I was not a teenager, for that would have scarred me for life, but a married mom who had a day off and whose plans for a rare afternoon out with her husband were postponed for a trip to the doctor.
    Chickie, you’re one brave awesome chica for sharing this. You must have a great mama or something. :)

  24. MelissaB

    Could it be that the regulars were just too absorbent for her needs? I only use Kotex Security Super Plus, they are the only ones I don’t leak around. Sorry… I switch to regulars on the last day. Anyway, in the spirit of instruction, take another one of those tampons you bought and let it soak in some water, or red juice if you feel like being creepy, or blue juice if you want to be ironic. Then repeat your same experiment. While you’ll find that the tampon still has a little fold in it when you pull the string, it’s not anything like the amount you see when dry. It’s not meant to be pulled out dry-ouch indeed! Consider what else would be that uncomfortable when inserted and removed dry. Ahem. Also, the tampon will have a relatable shape when soaked and the string is pulled on. You know, just for the sake of a tiny bit more instruction. Try it, I dare ya! FWIW, I instructed my oldest daughter using my hand curled into a light fist, then again with her hand, so she’d have an idea what it would feel like. Did this with the tampon both dry and then wet. Either she told her two younger sisters or they figured it out on their own.

  25. Beth

    My older daughter also had a lot of pain when removing tampons at first. We found that Playtex Gentle Glide tampons were easiest for both my girls to use. They like Playtex Sport, although I’m not sure what’s different about them. While I used Tampax for years, my daughters found them difficult to insert and remove. Lest you be tempted by its plastic applicator, be aware that the Tampax Pearl tampon is shaped like the Kotex tampon in your photo. Some of the generic tampons are similar in shape, which is why I’m very leery of buying them. Fortunately, I’ve been able to find quite a few $1 coupons for Playtex brand lately. I guess there’s a lot of competition with all those other brands on the market now.

  26. Megan

    I used to go swimming with pads (OMFG I KNOW) because tampons just DIDN’T WORK and were SO AWFUL. Obviously pads were the only acceptable solution to wear at all times.

    Um. Yeah. I was wearing tampons with the plastic tube attached.

    I know.

    No wonder they did not work and I wanted to die every time I used one!

    Chickie rocks!

  27. Aimee

    Oh. Em. Gee. Poor Chickadee!

    Seriously, Kotex, what is your damage? That thing is AWFUL looking.

    Chickie, I give you a TON of credit for not only being cool with your mom posting this, but for wanting to protect others from Kotex.

    Stick with the slender regulars and you’ll be fine. Those were the ones that allowed me to start using tampons lo! these many years ago.

  28. BethRD

    A very similar thing happened to me on my first tampon outing, and I *was* using the slender ones. They just don’t come out very well when a) one is young and narrow and b) one has only left the tampon in for .0005 seconds before freaking out and wanting it out again (see MelissaB’s comment about them being harder to pull out dry). I overcame the trauma of that first experience so I hope Chickadee can too!

  29. Mary

    Well, since everyone else is sharing!!!! ;-)

    I was camping with my cousins and directly across the street from the campground was the most amazing water slide! It was learn to use tampons, or no water slide so that made that decision easy. My cousin’s kept telling me “just stick it in, then pull it out”. What they were forgetting to tell me was to push the applicator up BEFORE you pulled it out. I’d be embarrassed to admit how many times I “just stuck it in and pulled it out” before I FINALLY figured that little tid bit out!

    Nowadays, though? Diva cup all the way and yes, I have Mir to thank for that, too!!!!!

  30. Jennifer

    I tried to coach my niece through this process once at her request. Holy mother of… something. It was horrific. I’m pretty sure we are both scarred, and I’m not looking forward to this when it is my daughter’s turn.

    I was a pad girl, but there are times when you just need a tampon (swimming). I hope she gives it another go with a different brand.

  31. stephanie

    chickadee is so right! the minute i saw the words kotex and tampons together in the same sentence, my nether regions winced in memory of the pain! for some reason, tampax tampons are the only ones that dont hurt! i hope she is willing to try again!!

  32. Emily in IL

    Oh poor Chickie!! Please, shell out the extra bucks for the Tampax ones – preferably the ones that have the smooth glide plastic insertion device (yeah, I know they are ‘bad for the environment’ but really, when you’re learning to use them they are SO much easier than the blunt tip cardboard applicator ones).

    I didn’t use them until I was in my first job. I had started unexpectedly and the office offered free products. The option was a tampon or a crazy bulky pad. Why did it take that long for me to use one? I was scared of it hurting (which is crazy since I had had sex by that point so I’m not sure what I was worried about).

  33. Headless Mom

    Yup. Just stick with Tampax.

  34. Sheila

    I have also stood with my back to my daughter in a bathroom in recent months, trying to talk her through this process, without any success (alas). Thank you, thank you, thank you, Mir and especially Chickadee, for being brave enough to put this out here. I will have my girl read it when she gets home from school, if only so she knows she’s not alone.

    And now, Neil Diamond’s “Girl, You’ll Be a Woman Soon” is on repeat in my head. Gah.

  35. Arnebya

    Giggling b/c I have had a post in my mind discussing the different types of tampons. I tried a few times in high school but never seemed to insert correctly, so I gave up. Pads worked fine (clearly, I was not an “active” girl). But once I realized their ease, pads were a thing of the past. I have since gone through nearly every brand trying to find the right one. I go back and forth between Playtex and Tampax, and pretty sure I haven’t tried Kotex security. Kotex also has a brand of pads marketed to teens. Their “regular” pads SUCK. They’re like a longer pantyliner, that’s it.

    I’m sorry, Chickadee, that you had to go through this. But believe me, all tampon producers aren’t RIDICULOUSLY IGNORANT TO WHAT A HUNK OF COTTON BALLING UP INSIDE ITSELF WILL DO TRYING TO COME OUT OF A SMALL SPACE.

    Separately, how out of the loop in tamponville am I that I didn’t know they still make ones w/cardboard? In a frantic search last week (someone pilfered my desk drawer stash (really, who does that?! Just ask)) I had to buy a box of Tampax in our general store at work and they have cardboard. I laughed. Because I’m weird.

  36. jen_alluisi

    Owowowowowowowowowow. Those look AWFUL. I’m 34, and I still don’t prefer tampons. I will use them in certain situations – swimming, obvs, or any activity where a pad might cause…let’s say “discomfort” from lots of moving, like running. But for just every day? Pads are so much easier to me, don’t clog plumbing (I worked in an office for a while where we were forbidden from flushing tampons), don’t cause fear of TSS or the damage bleached cotton might do to your innards, etc. If Chickie wants to try again with something else…well, she’s braver than I was at her age, and good on her. Otherwise, let her know that it is entirely possible to successfully go to college, get married, be an adult, all those happy grown-up things and still prefer pads. No problem.

  37. Lucinda

    Ah Chickadee….another product made for women, designed by men. You have truly reached womanhood. Thank you for sharing. I wouldn’t have thought anything about it until my daughter tried that first tampon. I’m sure you have saved her much pain and suffering. You continue to amaze me.

  38. Little Bird

    I think I was seventeen before I had the nerve to use tampons. These days it’s Kotex, but the tiny discreet “click” type. They don’t have that twine doo-hickey and come in bright colorful wrappers so they look like they could be candy. I don’t know what “capacities” they come in because I only get the ones with the most uhhh… storage.
    Props to Chickadee for prompting you to blog about this. I’d have died of embarrassment if my mother so much as asked me about tampons.

  39. Kate

    I had cervical surgery several years ago, which made inserting/using any tampon super uncomfortable. I found my True Tampon Soul Mate in Tampax Pearls, although each tampon comes with a Happy Meal worth of plastic waste, which makes me feel a little guilty.

  40. Kendra

    I hope you told her my tampon story…being an idiot not the same as being maimed by faulty craftsmanship, but it’s good for a laugh anyhoo.

    Sending healing thoughts to her hoo-hah.

  41. bj

    “Please let Chickie know that I wasn’t able to even insert a tampon until college ”

    Me, too. The only ones that work for me are the playtex tampons with the plastic casing. They also come in a slender size. I think it’s fairly important to use the tampons only when there’s sufficient flow, because they also get “stuck” when things are too dry in there.

    Kudos to Chickie for letting you post this. It’s a discussion I needed to have as a kid (and my periods started when I was very young). Especially if we want to remain active (and not retreat whenever our periods come around) we need to know how to manage the flow, in different activities and with different clothing, how to find bathrooms and time, how to measure our cycles and make predictions and plan, how to manage the pain or discomfort. It took me almost 25 years to get to the point where I had a handle on my periods, and I want my girl to have it easier.

  42. bj

    Oh, BTW, I found the “taking charge of your fertility” book enormously helpful in learning how to track my cycle and learn about how a period actually works. I encountered it when trying to plan for my second child, and though I have a Ph.D in biology, and have taken endocrinology classes, I didn’t really understand the details of the cycle until then. The book helps you learn to track the phases of your own cycle, rather than trying to make them match the averages that appear in books (i.e the 28 days business), which always had me off track.

    I’d love to see the book re-written for teens trying to understand their bodies (though I do worry about teens trying to use the info about non-fertile periods inappropriately to have unprotected sex).

  43. Barbara

    My little brother used an entire box of tampons for a science project about clouds when he was in about 1st grade. He was amazed that someone made cotton balls with strings attached. Picture proud 7 year old boy walking into living room with a couple coat hangers with tampons, fluffed out, hanging off them. My mom laughed til she cried, I was mortified (being 13 and only just learning what those things were for) and my dad was speechless.

    Tampons. Fun for the whole family!

  44. Billie

    Chickadee is so awesome!! “What? You HAVE to blog about it!” Love it!!

    I was very lucky that I had 3 older sisters and a younger sister that went through all of this before I did. I don’t remember feeling any worry over using tampons and I prefer them over pads. Pads are just very uncomfortable for me. Why would I want a wedgie all day?

    Since everyone else is sharing I have to give my funny story. I had just flown to S. Korea for my first Army duty station. I’m not sure if it was the stress/excitement from flying or being so far from home, but I managed to be my typical forgetful self. I…forgot…that I had a tampon in. I put another one in. Two tampons. In. At. The. Same. Time. Is. NOT. Comfortable.

  45. Rachel

    Just need to throw in my 2 cents… I had a hysterecomy in October, so no longer use these, but KOTEX SECURITY WAS MY FAVORITE BRAND for 25 years!!!! Tried the target brand knock offs, & they are not the same. HATED Tampax, OB & Playtex for various reasons. Mainly I always had really heavy periods & those brands did not work for me, My teen uses playtex or playtex sport & doesn’t like kotex. My mom had a hysterecomy 10 yrs before I started using tampons & she was a pad user, so kinda had to try them all until I found one that worked.
    Does tampax still have the cardboard applicator? Better for the environment, but BADDDDD for the lady bits, imho.

  46. Rachel

    Oops didn’t spell check & realized I spelled hysterectomy wrong (twice!) Sorry! =)

  47. Theresa g

    I don’t remember the brand, but at 15 I couldn’t remove my very first tamp (which was only being tried because we were on vacation and i was three years into having regular periods, and sick of pads, so i thought) My mom sat outside the door and offered suggestions, one of which was warm water. I was sore the rest of our vacation. And didn’t try again until more than 10 years later when a medical procedure coincided with the first day of my period. And I did a lot of sports and activities in all those pad only years! Even basic training!

  48. Jenn

    Tampax pearl all the way.

    Chickie you are very brave to tell us all this story. Good luck!

  49. Anna

    There’s always something that goes wrong, IME.
    Actually, I prefer cloth pads. My monthly excursion is 300% more comfortable than either of the other options.

  50. Michelle

    I think I’m in the minority here but I have used Kotex tampons for almost 30 years and have never had a problem with them. Anyhow, that aside–poor Chickie, I hope that it won’t be long before she can laugh about her misadventures. Interesting timing on this post as my 13 year old joined the ranks of us women over the weekend, after the first day she was asking when she could please try tampons and I told her next month. . .but now I’m not so sure if I can handle this kind of a situation gracefully. Is there a class somewhere that I don’t know about. . .or is it something I missed out on by not being a Girl Scout?

  51. Ali

    Also a Kotex user but I’m shaped odd in there (Thanks for letting me know that, Dr. OB!)

    But what I took from this post was the reminder that there are many reasons I am the proud owner of boys! not sure I could handle coaching someone!

  52. parodie

    Oh poor Chickie. I HATE when they hurt to come out. I agree with a previous comment that absorbency makes a difference (if they hurt to come out, I am usually taking them out too soon) but! I can recommend a solution.

    Unfortunately it means dealing with applicator-less tampons. Sorry. But they’re quite easy once you get the hang of them.

    OB makes “silk touch” tampons – they basically have a small cover, a nice smooth outside cover that makes them easier to get out without any pain. [I had another sentence here that I have deleted b/c of over-sharing.] I would recommend you try those if you’re going to experiment with tampons again. They are by far the best & least painful tampons that I have discovered.

    I hope Chickie feels better knowing she is by far not the only one.

  53. Elena

    Before Youtube all we had to rely on were the instructions in the box…I was absolutely convinced that I was going to insert the tampon in my urethra…Good Lord. So glad those days are behind me!

  54. EmmaC

    Yes. Oh, yes. My mother was terrified of tampons and passed that onto me. When I finally tried them in college (via the tried and true method of a best friend forcing one into my hand and standing outside the bathroom door), I was like, “Oh, wow! It’s like a whole new world of non-pad awesomeness! Also, THANKS, MOM.”

    P.S. If you really want to freak Chickadee out, give her a Mooncup for her birthday. Fun times!

  55. EmmaC

    P.P.S. My last P.S. was not intended to disparage the Mooncup or any other cup products. They’re great! But you have to admit they’re kind of squeamish-making when you first encounter them.

  56. Stace

    I love Kotex tampons..they’re the only tampon’s Ive been able to use that I cant feel or don’t leak. Of course i don’t have the vagina of a 14 year old either….so….this info is good to know for when my youngest starts menstruating (please God, let it be soon….I can’t handle the pre-puberty hormonal fluctuations much longer….oye).

  57. Zudie

    Please have her try OB tampons. The smallest size they have. OB does not come with the applicator so she’ll have to practice inserting it a bit more, but they are far smoother than any Tampax I’ve every seen. I have been using tampons forever since I have a heavy period and OB also makes very thick ones for heavy periods.
    I have never had it hurt removing any tampons, unless I was at the end of my days and it got too dry inside. That’s when a dry cottony one like Tampax is uncomfortable and the OB is better.

  58. Scottsdale Girl

    I am fairly certain that I have only a small amount of memory of the first time I tried a tampon, and it was that it took me A VERY LONG TIME INDEED to get that sucker IN.

    Also, I had my uterus set aflame in…2006? or near there, and OMG am I happy I don’t have to buy tampons anymore.

  59. Stacy

    I am almost 13 years older than my sister and my mom NEVER used tampons, but my sister was a dancer, so she really didn’t have a choice. This was before youtube, so I got to sit in the bathroom with my sister and try to talk her through it. I think we went through half a box before she managed to get one in. Oh, fun times. I can’t wait until my daughter hits puberty (dripping sarcasm).

  60. Angela

    At #44 Barbara – HAHAHAAAA!!! That’s the funniest thing I’ve ever heard! My mom told me to try tampons from the start and I’ve almost never worn pads. Although the first time I tried it, I only got it in about halfway…Ow ow ow!! Mom standing outside the door had to reassure me it goes ALL the way in! My ex-husband thought tampons were like pads, you just laid it in your underwear… would that even work??? Anyway, bottom line is…being a girl SUCKS!

  61. Em

    Hold everything. I have to wear my prettiest dress but I CAN’T square dance? WTH???

  62. Diane

    This is quite possibly one of my favorite blog posts, EVER.

  63. Amy

    YES to “Taking Charge of Your Fertility.” I bought it when I was wanting to get pregnant, and I remember reading it and being PISSED that no one explained this stuff to me when I was a teenager. Now when I teach human reproduction to my middle school students, I make sure to share with the girls the stuff about how your cycle REALLY works.

    EmmaC, I was wondering when someone would bring up menstrual cups. I love mine. But the learning curve for using one is even bigger than for tampons.

  64. Beth

    Yeah, Kotex. They still use the three-inch thick pad technology as well, so I’m not surprised their tampons are primitive. But cheap!

    If Chickadee is all green and earth-saving, you could youtube cup technology. I have a lot of friends who swear by them, but I’m too old to bother changing.

  65. Tenessa

    I was very anti tampon until later in high school. Then I used OB. After childbirth (and a tear that will make you think twice about vaginal delivery), I couldn’t use OB anymore because the exposed cotton stuck to my scar and it hurt like FIRE. So. I discovered Tampax Pearl. They are NOT the least expensive ones, but they are designed like OB but with a plastic applicator (yes, the environmentalist in me squirms at that). Comfy and easy in, easy out.

    And btw? I would have been too mortified to even talk about this topic with my mom (I wouldn’t even go down that isle at the store until after high school and I had no mom living with me to do it for me), much less have her blog about it. Bravo!

  66. Jeanie


  67. Katherine

    I had a friend in high school who had an issue with the tampon not coming out. Evidently it went in and then absorbed enough that it wouldn’t come back out. My mom told me the story that my friend had to use a small pocket knife to cut the hymen open more to remove the tampon. It freaked me out. Still does honestly. According to the moms, my friend took it in stride and continued using tampons. I think I’d have been using pads for years after that! I agree with some earlier posters, that I loved OB for the ability to carry them discreetly in my pocket. Now, though, I use the diva cup. It took a bit to get used to, but no leaking, lasts longer between changes, doesn’t hurt to take out if there hasn’t been much flow, and environmentally friendly too.

  68. Lisa

    I have a friend who is in her 30s who just tried tampons for the first time in 2011. I can’t even imagine what she would have done had this happened!

  69. Donna

    True Story. I worked in Women’s Health in a hospital and gave the ‘Welcome to Womanhood’ talk many times. I think there was a Girl Scout badge for it. And I discussed tampons, and opened them up, and passed them around, etc. etc. The best part was when the girls headed for the juice and cookies, and the moms shared their stories. I’ll never forget a woman who said, hand to god this is true, “My sister gave me one, pushed me in the bathroom and said, ‘you stick it up your butt’ so that’s what I did. I remember thinking, ‘This CAN’T be right.'”

    Also, all the filmstrips that say you only lose a few ounces of fluid: bullshit.

  70. Leanne

    Ummmm I use Kotex U tampons and have never had any trouble with them. And I’ve NEVER seen one of them look like that!

  71. Samantha

    I love my diva cup too, but I have to say that I have NOT recommended it to my sisters (who are a decade younger than me and therefore still in high school) because I’m not sure I could have used one pre-marriage. First of all I’m not sure it would have fit until I was, umm active and…stretchy (you’re welcome). Secondly, you have to be very comfortable with getting your hands all up in your lady bits. However, now that I have one I would never go back.

  72. Monique

    Poor Chickie!! :( And I agree with everyone that she rocks for letting you share.

    And in another note, am I the only one who is thinking of a Docce-Maytag repeat type thing? Mir, if you get a phone call from Kotex please let us know!

  73. diane

    First – Mir, you are an awesome mama because seriously, I think I was given the choice to buy some if I wanted to and then left to my own devices, the instructions in the box, and some nattering with my girl friends about what the hell we were supposed to do. Also, a horror story from my mom about how she got one stuck once and had to go to the doctor to get it removed. Thanks a LOT!
    And I didn’t get comfortable with Tampons until I was at LEAST18 years old.
    It would be wonderful to be an environmentally aware woman and learn how to use the all natural sponges or some such, but being a woman in this world is exhausting enough. I will happily destroy the earth with some Tampax Pearls if it makes my womanly life even a bit easier.

  74. addy

    Bravo Chickie for sharing your story! Kudo to Mir for telling it. The Hell with Kotex Security! Blehhhh.

  75. carson

    I can tell you that many a grown woman has lost a tampon up there in the inside and had to come to the office to get it removed. The stories that are legend are the ones where the tampon has been there for WEEKS.

    I am proud of Chickadee that she wanted you to share. And I’m a little bit freaked by the recommendations for during menstruation from the 1953 video (but did you see the girl behind Molly to the left? She was WAY freaked about that particular lesson!)

  76. jadine

    Whaaaaaaaaat?? OW! That’s craaazy, and Chickie – yeah, they shouldn’t hurt. I’m glad your mom and you can talk about this stuff (with us :) so you can figure out what’s good for you. I think *I* may be scarred by this story, and I wasn’t even there! (That 1st video was a good one).

  77. evsmarie

    Oh my sweet heavens. I couldn’t decide whether to giggle or double over in empathetic pain. Poor (very brave!) Chickie. As someone else said, since we’re sharing…. I was TERRIFIED to use tampons when my period first started. A couple of years later my mom finally convinced me that it would work out if I just first lubed up the tampon (I think I was 13ish). She loaned me her KY (sooooo naive) and it did the trick. Both in and out again without any problems. BUT! (There is always a “but” in these stories) One time I was at my Grandma’s when I needed to insert a new one. I felt brave and thought I would use a naked tampon. Insert? No problem! Success!!! Time to remove? Fail. The paaaaaaaaain!!! I was home alone and had no idea what to do. So, in tears of pain and terror, I grabbed the one thing that I thought might work. My mother’s unsuspecting (plastic and rubber) turkey baster. *sigh* Yep. I filled ‘er up with water, squatted in the bathtub and soaked that darn tampon within an inch of it’s unforgiving life. It was finally so heavy and sodden that it just about fell out. I threw the baster in the dishwasher and thank heavens, Mom never noticed or asked why it had been used. And me? It was a few months before I would try them again. Lubed of course.

  78. Little Bird

    If men only knew the strange contortions and trials we go through, they might realize that we’re a LOT tougher than they think! The shared stories are hysterical!

  79. Kira

    Chickie, you’re my hero. Welcome to the world of women, sharing their stories. We’re lucky to have you.

  80. Lisa

    OMG she is so brave for letting you write about this. So mature! She deserves a pat on the back.

  81. mamaspeak

    The fertility book mentioned is awesome! For some reason, I thought I was going to have issues getting pregnant the 2nd time. I don’t know why, it wasn’t an issue the first time. I think I just must’ve read too many 2nd child infertility stories online. First time w/both kids. Your welcome! Anyway, I’m Hispanic & my husband is Irish, he likes to say when you put two of us together you don’t TRY to make babies. It’s like it’s our super power or something. But I too was pissed I hadn’t known about the book previously. I could tell you what time I’d start my period when I was charting. Yeah, over-share, I know.

    Mir, you are all kinds of awesome.
    The first time I tried using a tampon, my mom was totally against it. I don’t know why. I’d had my period for over a year at the point. But whatever. My point is that she was no help, AT ALL. I went in the bathroom, read the directions & did my best. It was super uncomfortable. My mom wanted me to go to a department store w/her right after. I realized later that I didn’t get it up far enough. Yeah, OW! I think I lasted like 15 min in the store. Went to their bathroom & took it out. My mom being ever supporting, was MAD at me. I’m not sure what her issue was, but yeah, still no help. Later I tried again, I made sure I didn’t have to go anywhere, so I could “fix it” if I need to. I found that, initially, I had to stand up, w/one foot on the toilet to insert it correctly. Sounds weird, but it worked. Actually was suggested in the directions. Once I knew what it felt like, (or really what it didn’t feel like,) I was golden. One of the benefits I found from using tampons was that I had a LOT less cramps & my period w/shortened by a day, which was awesome! I hated wearing a pad after that. Felt like I was walking around in a dirty diaper. You’re welcome. I’m a giver.

    Chickee, you are awesome. I’m so glad that you and your mom are so open & comfortable talking about this kind of stuff. I have 2 girls, who will be dealing w/this in several years. A story like this, I’m sure has saved them a ton of potential issues.

    On preference, when I was in high school, I found I had better success w/tampax pearls. Plastic applicators make up for a lot. If a women was designing them, the plastic would be biodegradable by now.
    Thanks to you both.

  82. Liza

    Way to go, investigative and brave Chickee!

    Also in the stone age, specifically, when I was in the 9th grade, I had a tampon get stuck.

    Unfortunately, neither my mom, nor a warm bath were available.

    I was on a camping trip. It was an annual group trip, but for some reason, my parents couldn’t go that year. A family friend agreed to let me come anyway, and to give me a ride. He was almost old enough to be my grandfather; most of the other campers were his young adult sons. There was one family there with girls near my age, but they were new to the trip.

    The problem was that since the drive to the camping area was 5 hours long, I’d left it in too long, and it had swollen too much.

    I stayed in the (dark, smelly) outhouse for at least 30 minutes trying to get the tampon out. I thought I was going to die — mostly of embarrassment, but also from the actual discomfort and pain.

    Eventually, I did. Thank god. And then I had to figure out some way to *thoroughly* wash my icky hands in the middle of the woods. And without anyone knowing why I needed to wash, or attracting bears, which my 8th grade science teacher had somehow convinced the Camping Club only went after menstruating women and girls. (I don’t think that’s true, but at the time, I didn’t realize he was a nutcase. Also, there weren’t even bears around there.)

  83. Navhelowife

    I started using them one summer because I wanted to go swimming. So, I borrowed my sister’s OB stash she had left under the sink. I read the little instruction pamphlet and figured it out. My mom was a little surprised that I didn’t come ask her, but I would have died the death before I had THAT conversation. Apparently I’m over that mortification now :) I have tried other types, but OB’s are the most comfortable for me – the in, the out and the inbetween times.
    I have three boys, so not a conversation we have to have here, but I’m glad you are having it with your daughter.

  84. Brigitte

    Augh, so many comments I can’t even keep up! But, more kudos to Chickie for her bravery.

    I was another belt-user from prehistoric days, and took years to move on to tampons (didn’t help that my sister’s child psychiatrist likened them to man-bits and hinted we were either gay for avoiding them, or sluts for using them). Though, all my life, I never did find a non-painful tampon, and I was just too . . um, too much . . for Diva cups.
    Now my Mirena ROCKS!

  85. Rachael

    I use the cheap Wal-Mart brand but because I hate the applicators that don’t have the lips on them. Those are difficult to remove for me. And WTG Chickie for letting mom share. Any company who’s slogan is “Have a Happy Period” isn’t for me.

  86. Rachael

    And OMG. That 1950’s video! Bwhahaha!

  87. Melissa

    I’m cracking up here, and good job Chickie and Mir for sharing! But I have to stick up for my brand – Kotex Security are the only ones I use (and have since I was 14) and I’ve never had any issues…I’ve actually tried a few others along the way and those just work best for me. I think ALL tampons are a little wacked if you mess with them when they are dry…

  88. Kelly

    Oh, goodness…thanks for sharing! If it makes Chickie feel any better, my embarassing, totally unbelievable tampon story goes like this: I too used Kotex tampons early on. After some isntruction from mom, all was going well, until one day, a string broke. As in I pulled on it and it came out WITHOUT the tampon attached. After much consternation, a whole lot of embarassment and several lame attempts on my own to remove said obstruction, I had to ask my mother to help. Picture it: Teenager, legs spread, lying on the bathroom floor, with mother nearly dying from laughter/crying as she probed to locate and pull out the offending object by hand. Mortifying is the only word that describes it. Will NEVER forget that. And needless to say, Kotex is no longer my brand. Hang in there, Chickie!

  89. Jill W.

    “I have to wear my prettiest dress but I CAN’T square dance? WTH???” LMAO, Em.

  90. Karen

    OK, I hate to admit this to the universe, but here it goes: I got my period for the first time while visiting my grandmother for the weekend with my father who had been divorced from my mother since I was three. I put a bunch of toilet paper in my pants because I was too embarrassed to tell my father or anyone else. And I didn’t tell my mother for six months after the fact because she was all “Oh, my little girl, now she’s a woman!” type, and I hated that. So I suffered for six months.

    I can’t believe I just told everyone that. Love to Chickadee. OH! I did use the sponge for awhile and got that stuck.

    I must be the weirdest person on the planet.

  91. suzie

    My 15 yo went straight to tampons (she got her period so late, at 15, her friends were already using tampons, so it didn’t seem as big a deal to her). The first time, she also had trouble with removal. We were on vacation – the whole family crammed into a hotel room – so we texted across the room from each other about the issue. We decided that the difficulty was due to dryness, and that she should just try again in the morning. And she did, and it was fine.

    Over the past 6 months, she’s decided that Tampax Pearl are her favorites.

    I find it very cute that she asked me last weekend, “Do I have to set my alarm for 9 a.m., because that’s the time I should change my tampon? Will I get toxic shock if I sleep until 11?” “No, honey. You’ll be fine.”


  92. Mer

    Tampax makes a low-absorbancy one (Lites) that I used for a while, until I got a Diva cup and cloth pads. I am allergic to commercial pads. It’s lovely.

  93. Tarrant

    My youngest, you know-the one Chickadee’s age–but with the benefit of living in a house with four menstruating women/girls–was having the pre-first period discussion with me last year. I was discussing the pros and cons of tampons vs pads. She said (and I kid you not) “I just want to start with the Diva cup.” Um err ok. Keep in mind her exposure to the Diva cup was some discussion and discussion with the 21-year-old about how her roommates liked it. (Meaning the menstruators (is that a word?) of this house aren’t Diva Cup people at all. I gave her some softcup swag from BlogHer this year. No idea if she’s tried them. I think she’s a tampon girl. I offered to provide support and she’s all “There are INSTRUCTIONS IN THE BOX.”

  94. Laura

    I had a very similar bad experience with a Playtex tampon in middle school. It, like, blossomed out, and that thing was HUGE and I was wee. I switched to the Tampax slender regular and never had an issue again.

  95. Debra

    Please make a video for Youtube… please please please.

  96. Wendy

    Just another word to the wise, I have a cousin whose tampon got stuck inside her, (blocked by her hymen) and had to be removed in the ER. i had never heard of that happening until we were discussing my daughter using them in order to attend swim class and my aunt warned me.

  97. Jenny

    I’m on Depo so I can’t remember the last time I needed a tampon. But is it weird that I put up with the, uh, inferior user interface on o.b. because of the amazingly tiny box?

  98. Gigi

    My mom would´ve never allow me to wear tampons, so of course I asked my best friend to teach me. She sent me in the bathroom armed with an OB tampon, a hand mirror and baby lotion and with the instruction to push it in as far as my finger would reach. it took me about ten minutes to get to a place where I couldn´t feel it and her words of encouragement were “that was the easy part, removal´s a bitch” I felt like crying (Her instruction for removal were “open your legs as wide as you can and push at the same time you pull the string”). But the relief from not having to worry about it for hours was well worth the whole thing and I never went back. I did change to playtex, I like the applicator.

  99. Amelia

    Oh, goodness. I am so sorry she had a bad experience. For what it’s worth, Kotex are the only kind I’ll use. They are also the only kind any of my sisters (3 of them) will use. We’ve tried others; always came back to Kotex and haven’t had any problems. (No, I swear I’m not being paid by them to say nice things :)). When I was younger, I put one in water to see how it was made, and it was definitely not made like the ones you posted here. Maybe they’ve changed the design?

    Also, I’m so proud of Chickadee for being brave enough to let you post about this!

  100. vanessa


    I love OB myself, but for beginners, the tiniest, thinnest thing you can find! TINY.
    Also, maybe Chickie would like to buy some fun reusable pads on etsy!

    But seriously, poor girl. And the warm bath thing is a good tip. I am going to share that in the sex ed class I teach.

  101. Liza

    I had another, related thought. You and Chickadee may want to invest in small boxes of some of the store brands that are similar to Tampax. I *think* it was CVS, but I may be remembering wrongly, which had a Tampax-like cardboard applicator, but with a smooth, rounded end.

    Besides, now that she’s begun the tampongate investigations as to quality, I just don’t see her ignoring all that valuable potential information.

    Next year’s science fair project? (I am partially kidding. It would be a great project, but potentially mortifying.)

  102. kati

    ok i was laughing so hard at work i had to share with the ladies here at work! i personally do not have a story on an experience from me – but my 12 yr old went thru this type of experience….in a sense…..she was going swimming – and oh no– pads were not gonna work! so – i am not brand loyal since RELY was taken off the shelves – so i buy what is on sale and i have coupons for (thank you MYLITTER :)) i forgot to mention i have a 10 yr old as well so there will be 3 of us …… in one house……. at some point and time ……together I SHUTTER! so i am building the stock pile for pads and tampons — oh i digress!!! ADHD — SQUIRELL! anyhoo– the 12 yr old wasn’t grasping the concept of how to insert — so i had to do it for her __EEE GADS! we both promised NEVER to talk of it again! i don’t remember what brand — but will have to go check out the u tube video and do the experiment with her! THANKS SO MUCH

  103. Allanna

    I have to second the practice of using KY when starting to learn to use tampons.
    I think I was around 12 or 13 … and I already was tired of pads.
    I knew that my mom used both.
    I holed myself in my bathroom and TRIED and TRIED and TRIED.
    I emerged, nearly hysterical because those dang OB sample ones in the “You’re Becoming a Woman” (or whatever the tritely-named package was called) would NOT go in!
    (Answer: Nerves and … lack of …liquid-ness-essence)

    So, my mom talked me through it, along with giving me a tube of KY to stick under the sink along with my box of period-swag. JUST so that it would be easier.
    She also highly recommended using tampons with a good applicator.
    There’s a reason I love my mom so much. ^_^

  104. Heather Cook

    This is an awesome post :)

    I had Toxic Shock Syndrome when I was about 14… yeah, it’s not to be effed with.

  105. Veronica

    That is actually pretty terrible of a tampon company. Major design flaw.

    Before I had children, I was a huge fan of a brand here in Aus that had a “silk ease cover”, because they were super easy to insert and remove. I’m not sure if they’ve got anything similar, but they probably do.

    Of course, I’ve had two children now and it’s all a lot … roomier.

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