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Do tampons come in different sizes?

July 14 2022 | Written by Nadia Ladak (She/Her)

Tampons have sizes?

Have you ever tried to remove a tampon and winced the entire time as you pulled out a half dry and very scratchy piece of cotton? Yet while you dreaded pulling this one out, you found yourself leaking through the same tampon the very next day? Why are tampons so unpredictable? The truth is, you may be using the wrong size tampon! Now I know what you might be thinking, tampons have sizes? How did I not know this? ahem, thank you sub-par sex ed. It’s true! Tampons have different sizes so it’s important to find the size that works for your flow. In this blog, we dive into tampon absorbencies, how to know what size is right for you, and the best size to use for beginners (and a brand new tip: try dipping your tampon in the Marlow lubricant for smoother insertion)

What are tampon sizes?

Tampon size has nothing to do with the size of your vagina. Tampon sizes are actually related to absorbency and the volume/heaviness of your flow. If you have a heavier flow, you will likely use a regular or super size tampon, whereas if you have a lighter flow, you may opt to use a light tampon. Picking the right absorbency matters because the tampon you use can influence your risk of developing Toxic Shock Syndrome. Plus, it can seriously affect your comfort levels!

How do I know what tampon size is right for me?

It is best to pick the lightest absorbency that will still be enough to absorb blood without leaking for 4 to 8 hours. Try starting out with a light tampon first. If it is fully saturated with blood within 4 hours, you can try going up to a regular tampon next. If that’s fully saturated in less than 4 hours, try a super tampon.

You also want to avoid taking out a tampon too early. If you remove a tampon too early, it could still be pretty dry, which makes taking it out quite uncomfortable! However, remember that you need to change a tampon within 8 hours as wearing it longer can increase your risk of Toxic Shock Syndrome. At Marlow, we offer three absorbencies, light, regular, and super.

Basically, the sweet spot is when your tampon is fully saturated with blood between 4 and 8 hours - you won't have to worry about any leakage but you also won’t have to worry about pulling out a dry one. Keep in mind, however, your flow may vary throughout different days of the week! Next time you get your period, try tracking how your flow changes on each day so that you can adjust your tampons to what best suits your needs on each specific day. 

It hurts to insert a tampon, am I using the wrong size?

Your blood acts as a natural lubricant when inserting a tampon. However, if you have a light flow, especially towards the beginning or end of your cycle, you may not have enough natural lubrication, which can cause pain or discomfort when inserting a tampon. If you have a light flow, it’s best to try to stick to the lightest absorbency available that will suit your flow. You can also try dipping it in our Marlow lubricant for smoother and more comfortable insertion. To learn more about tampon insertion pain, check out our blog: 5 reasons why your tampon may hurt. And, always remember, if you experience any significant discomfort or pain when using a tampon, stop and speak to your doctor first!

I keep leaking whenever I use a tampon. What should I do?

It is possible that you may be using an absorbency that is too light for your flow. You should change your tampon every 4-8 hours. If your tampon is fully saturated before the 4 hour mark, consider increasing your absorbency to a super or super plus tampon. You can also consider wearing a liner while using a tampon in case your tampon leaks!

Can I use different size tampons throughout my cycle?

Yes! Depending on the day of your cycle, your flow level may fluctuate. Bleeding is usually heaviest on the second and third days of your cycle, however this is different for every person. Some individuals have shorter and lighter periods especially if they’re using some type of hormonal birth control whereas others may have heavier and longer periods. You can consider using super or regular tampons on the heavier days of your periods and light tampons on the lighter flow days. Many brands sell combination packs that include a few of each size in one package. If you get your tampons through a Marlow subscription, you can get a combination of light, regular, and super tampons delivered straight to your door!

What’s the best tampon size for beginners?

If you are new to using tampons, try starting with a light tampon. These tampons are smaller and more slender which may make insertion less daunting. At Marlow, our tampons can also be used with our Marlow lubricant which is designed to make inserting tampons easier and smoother. Check out our blog How to Insert a Tampon for Beginners for a step by step guide on insertion.

The bottom line

Yes, it’s true, tampons do have sizes and it’s important to identify the correct size for your flow to ensure that insertion and removal is smooth. If you need help identifying which size works for you, feel free to reach out to our team members and we’ll guide you through the process.