Sex Talk: The Virgin and Tampons

I spent this weekend with my niece who came up to visit me. We had an excellent time together, and you were right; because we have so much in common, some parts of it did feel like healing my teenager. There was one moment in particular. Yesterday I took her to the beach. While we were getting ready, she said she had just gotten her period and asked if I had stuff. I reached into my purse and handed her a tampon. She said she couldn’t use them. I asked why, thinking it was a personal preference. But then she said, “I’m not allowed.” “Why?” I asked. “Because I’m a virgin and using one would be like having sex.” I felt angry. “Who told you that?” “My mom.” She said.

My mom told me the same thing. So I, being the obedient daughter, followed what she said. Except I had this really embarrassing experience when I was on swim team. I had gotten my period and had to go to practice. I asked my mom what I should do. She had instructed me to safety pin my pad to my swimsuit. I’m pretty sure you can imagine what happened. A few laps in, the pad swelled like a diaper and I had this sagging bloody mess on my hands. I. Was. Mortified. I bought and wore tampons in secret the rest of my of college years.

But I didn’t want that for my niece. I said, “No disrespect to your mom, but that’s bullshit. Wearing tampons does not make you want have sex in any way, it doesn’t physically prepare you or emotionally prepare you for sex in any way. Now, if you don’t want to use one for your own reasons, that’s totally cool. But I just don’t want you to think that tampons are the gateway sex drug.” She thought it over and said she would like to try it out and see if it was less annoying than a pad. I talked her through how to use one, and she ended up saying she liked it better because she feels cleaner.

I felt warm that I was able to clear up some archaic view of tampons for her. I know for me personally, my mom’s weird concepts on certain things made me very scared to ask questions about sex and explore it in a healthy way.