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Why Are Tampons Still A Taboo In India?

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Designed to serve the purpose of hygiene for the feminine population on planet Earth, tampons came into existence centuries in the form of papyrus, wool, plants, paper and grass.

It wasn’t until 1929, that a genius physician named Earle Haas invented the modern-day tampon as an alternative to those bulky cotton sanitary pads cum diapers. Using a tampon for the first time can be confusing, but it’s quite convenient once the user gets the hang of it. Tampons have been proven to cause the least amount of leakage and thus, ensure comfort to the users.

Tampons are commonly utilized by women in western countries; where it’s quite normal to talk about such issues like the menstruation cycle. But as we move towards India, a lot about this alternative is yet to be discovered.

Starting from the root cause, it’s considered as a sin to openly talk about the menstruation days which are commonly referred to as “woh din” by the majority of the female population here. Then comes the ultimate resort aka the saviour for a majority of women here – the ‘Sanitary napkin’. To be honest, it is an extra baggage to those unbearable cramps and let’s not forget about the rashes that occur.

When it comes to tampons or sanitary napkins, the latter is the preferred by the majority mainly because of its availability and awareness. There are a lot of misconceptions that revolve around the usage of a tampon which is why their sales have, moved at a comatose pace. According to a Euro monitor survey, they are at a sluggish 2-3% rate, seven times lower than sanitary napkins. Roughly, only 5% of the Indian women population are aware of this facility.

The very first misconception being the fact that it is associated with a woman’s virginity; if a woman uses a tampon, it means that she isn’t a virgin anymore. However, it’s important to know that it isn’t true since hymen is an elastic tissue which is extremely flexible and is not necessarily harmed by a tampon. Secondly, it’s believed that the process of wearing a tampon is discomforting and hurts, which is false and has been rubbished by most of the limited tampon users in India.

Speaking to a few working women was both encouraging and enlightening, “Tampons are a lot more comfortable than pads in many ways, and I would really encourage women to try using tampons and other menstrual aids like menstrual cups. Trust me; they make your life so much easier,” said Sayantika Nath.

“For me, it’s a blessing which saves me from uneasiness, smell and it shortens your period by a day, I would like to encourage every girl to try tampon as it’s a wonderful thing for us,” said Sneha Singh.

“I have never used a tampon I recently came to know about it in spite of living in this city, the awareness is very low,” said Meghna Sharma.

Awareness is the most important concern when it comes to tampons. Until and unless the female population comes to know about the attributes of this alternative; all the misconceptions will emerge as the reality.

Advertisements also play a key role in spreading awareness. If a tampon is advertised as much as a sanitary napkin, people will be more aware. Though we all are still waiting for that day when a woman, without any hesitance, will buy a sanitary napkin and be handed one without it being wrapped in paper.

You must be to comment.
  1. Maitri Sharma


  2. Saurav Kumar

    Divya, An eye opening piece, hitting hard the taboo building attitude of society. Its worth sharing so the the awareness level increases on a large scale. Thumbs Up!

  3. Kirankumar Hirinayak

    Hey I I have written a similar article on sanitary pad

  4. fantasieslover

    True though they don’t give the napkins in papers these days. You’d have to tell them to give it in a bag or a paper and most of the stores don’t even keep tampons. I generally order from bigbasket or amazon.

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Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

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