5 Myths About Tampons and Some Born-Again Virgins

March 18th 2016

Danielle DeCourcey

Although they seem simple enough, tampons are tied to a few myths that just won't go away. Some myths are simple science misconceptions and some are rooted in deep cultural beliefs. Either way tampons are important and not everyone has access to them.

1. You are not a virgin if you use a tampon.

This is false… in most places. A virgin is someone who has never had sex, but the cultural definition of sex can vary. A 1991 study by the Kinsey Institute at Indiana University showed that American adults between the ages of 18 and 96 couldn’t agree on a single definition for sex. Some people said that oral or anal sex is in fact sex, while others don’t think it counts.

Other people believe that a hymen is a true marker of virginity. The hymen is a thin piece of skin most females are born with that does not grow back once broken. Tampons can break a hymen but so can riding bikes or sports, according to Planned Parenthood.

The Tru TV show "Adam Ruins Everything" explains some facts about hymens and sex.

Some women believe hymens are so important that they have an operation to “restore” their virginity.

Esmeralda Venegas from Nature Medical of New York, formerly the Ridgewood Health and Beauty Center located in Queens, told ATTN: that women pay about $4,500 to have their hymens surgically replaced. The center completes between one to three of these surgeries a month. She said that most of the women come from the Middle East and Latin America and they are afraid to return home.

“Their lives are in danger if they go home without their hymen,” said Venegas. “Men, their fantasy is to possess a virgin. They want to see the hymen and they want to see the blood also,” she said.

2. 'If you leave a tampon inside you over night, then you will get Toxic Shock Syndrome.'

There's a lot of misinformation about Toxic Shock Syndrome. TSS is a life-threatening condition that can happen from a bacterial infection, but it is exceptionally rare. In 1997, the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control on TSS, there were only five confirmed period-related cases. However, if you leave a tampon in while sleeping and you come down with a sudden high fever, vomiting, or a rash on your hands and feet then contact your doctor immediately.

3. Scented tampons are necessary during your period.

Although a slight smell can occur during a period, Dr. Lauren Streicher, M.D., from Northwestern University’s medical school told Buzzfeed that scented tampons can harm rather than help.

“The inside of a vagina should not smell and all of those chemicals and perfumes and stuff can be irritating,” she said.

4. A tampon can “float away” inside your body.

Just no. Your cervix is too small for a tampon to pass to the other side and the walls of your vagina will hold your tampon in place. However, you could forget that it’s there, like this woman from XOJane who had the same tampon inside her for weeks.

Mandy from XOJane

She explained it:

"'Well, I've figured out your problem,' the doctor announced. 'You've had a tampon stuck inside you. Way up inside. It's really far up there. Here, let me get it out. You're going to feel a lot better really soon.'" - Mandy XOJane

5. Tampons and pads are easy to find and everyone can get them.

Women across the world struggle to manage their periods. ATTN: wrote about how low-income and homeless women in the U.S. cannot afford tampons and pads, and often resort to unsanitary methods during their periods.

UNICEF says that 1 in 10 African school girls “do not attend school during menstruation” and the United Nations said that “…providing pads with education significantly improved attendance among participants” in a 2014 study of school girls in Ghana.

But not everyone likes to hear about tampon access. Guardian columnist Jessica Valenti was attacked on Twitter for asking about tampon availability.

As with most gender issues, tampons (and pads) have social and political implications well beyond that one week of the month.

RELATED: Why Your Period Is Being Unfairly Taxed