Top 10 Things I’d Rather Do With Tampons Than Put Them Inside Me

this post is in a duel with this post

I’d rather do almost anything with a tampon than insert it into my vagina. Almost. Once I forgot my diva cup during an extended stay at my girlfriend’s apartment, which turned into an extended-er stay due to Hurricane Sandy. My diva cup was in Brooklyn, I was in Manhattan and I complained for an entire week. I’m an enthusiastic diva cup convert, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have tampons lying around! And it’s never just one tampon — I haven’t used tampons for as long as I’ve been dating my girlfriend, and just the other day I reached into my backpack and pulled out like six tampons. I have no doubt that in two days I’ll reach into my backpack and pull out six more because they’re ubiquitous and I’m convinced they multiply. I have a few ideas for my ever-growing supply of furtively reproducing tampons that I will never again stick in my vagina.

1. Make Cat Toys


I have a cat and a sharpie, and tampons have tails that make them look like mice. Game on.

2. Stop Nosebleeds

Actually not a bad use of tampons, as they’re individually wrapped. This is, of course, provided that you don’t mind walking around with a tampon up your nose. Also good for applying hydrogen peroxide to small cuts.

3. Nondenominational Saturnalia Ornaments


Life is hard when everyone in your queer feminist commune switches to the cup at the same time. What do you do with that closet full of tampons? Step one, dye them all fun colours. Step two, use them as ornaments on your Saturnalia tree *. What’s Saturnalia, you ask?

But instead of yet another mansplainer, I’d like you to mentally substitute a crunchy butch lady with an ALH in there. Can also be used as Christmas ornaments, flameless menorah stand-ins and a substitute for Easter eggs—hide them in your backyard and set your friends free to find them!

4. Installation/Performance Art


Tampon arts and crafts have certainly been done before, not the least of which occurred in my college house when my gay cis male roommates stumbled upon a cabinet of sanitary supplies after I’d moved out and I came back to visit and the downstairs bathroom had been adorned (maybe they were high?). But I’m proposing an entire movement of tampon installations and performance art. My suggestions include this suit of tampons, kindly modeled by Ilene Chaiken. **

5. Stuff a Teddy Bear


My girlfriend has pointed out that this teddy wouldn’t be very comfortable, but that will not stop me from daring you to walk into a Build-A-Bear with two large cartons of tampons.

6. Cleaning Up Tiny Spills While Plating Gourmet Food

Let’s be real here—I can barely cook canned soup without fucking it up, so I’ll never be plating gourmet anything. But I imagine that if I wanted to clean up small spills of that canned soup off the rims of plates, that a tampon would be a very precise way of doing it. So it’s not a far jump for my imagination to also imagine that if you’re plating something with, oh I dunno, a raspberry cayenne coulis or some such thing (is that a thing?) that it would be a very precise way to clean up coulis spills too.

7. Nerf Gun Ammunition

Don’t tell me you haven’t thought about it.

If you haven’t, someone else has. According to my research, they’d need to be a bit heavier on the tip to fly straight, but that’s not going to stop me from encouraging you to try it. If it doesn’t work as Nerf ammo, we’ll just make the PVC tampon launcher.

8. Plug Up Holes in Sinking Boats

Ali: I’m thinking #8 is “plug up holes in sinking boats.”

Karen: That won’t work.

Ali: Won’t it?

Karen: Tampons would just expand and absorb and more water would get in and the boat would continue to sink.

Ali: But it’s the perfect opportunity to use this picture:

From the good folks at this here blog.

From the good folks at this here blog.

Karen: You could use something non absorbent.

Ali: And this gif:

From the good folks who run that tumblr.

From the good folks who run that tumblr.

Karen: Like a wine cork.

Ali: I’m not doing a post about things I’d rather do with a wine cork than shove it up my hoo-ha.

9. Get it Chemically Tested Because I Trust No One

No one can properly tell me what’s in a tampon. Like, I know it’s rayon fiber or cotton or a mix, but then some internet says the dioxin from the manufacturing is in there too, which would be real bad. Then the FDA says there’s not really anything in a tampon that would make it not-so-great, and historically I believe governmental institutions when they tell me things (at least at first). I just wish that I had the resources and the know-how to do a damn test on the tampon all by myself so I could know for sure what’s actually in the tampon.

10. Make a Ball Pit or Make It Rain



If all else fails, you could pull a Melissa Harris Perry and wear them as earrings in protest.

* Actually, the Christmas tree originated out of a completely separate German tradition, but people for whom conversion was convenient really enjoy mashing traditions together to make something politically expedient.

** Ilene Chaiken, as you may have guessed, was not a willing participant in modeling this suit made of tampons. But I really wish she had been.

Special thanks to Interns Geneva and Liz for the photo-tastic photoshopping. Feature image via Shutterstock.

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A.E. Osworth

A.E. Osworth is part-time Faculty at The New School, where they teach undergraduates the art of digital storytelling. Their novel, We Are Watching Eliza Bright, about a game developer dealing with harassment (and narrated collectively by a fictional subreddit), is forthcoming from Grand Central Publishing (April 2021) and is available for pre-order now. They have an eight-year freelancing career and you can find their work on Autostraddle (where they used to be the Geekery Editor), Guernica, Quartz, Electric Lit, Paper Darts, Mashable, and drDoctor, among others.

A.E. has written 542 articles for us.


  1. No joke, my middle school gym teacher used tampons as tree ornaments for the tiny desk-top-sized tree in her office. The office had a big window looking out into the locker room, so we could all see it while we were anxiously getting changed for gym and wishing periods didn’t exist.

    She turned out to be the best gym teacher ever.

  2. I can’t remember the last time I used a tampon, or a regular pad for that matter. I have diva cups and reusable pads and everything is beautiful. I haven’t used tampons in years, I’ve moved a few times, and STILL SOMEHOW I HAVE A STASH and occasionally just come across a tampon. Seriously, what is that?

  3. I do not trust the FDA. There’s def creepy stuff in tampons.

    #teamcup Compliance Manager

  4. I think Aussie women might be mailing tampons to the immigration minister in protest at the moment. Women in immigration detention in Australia have been made to ask for sanitary products one at a time, from mostly male guards, which I imagine would be quite humiliating (and I really hope they’re not doing the same thing with contraceptives). But I’m on exchange at the moment, so I’m not sure of the details of the problem or the protest.

  5. Tampons make excellent fire starters and blood absorbers…they’re in a lot of survival manuals/lists I’ve read on the interwebs because I fear the zombie apocalypse… so pack up those spares with your camp kit.

    • I read a memoir of the Rhodesian civil war in which the writer said they were using tampons on bullet wounds – the right shape, easily removable, clean and designed to stop bleeding. Scary thought…

  6. I’ve definitely used a tampon for the blood nose scenario – they work best for your smaller woman’s noses if you cut them in half lengthwise, and, bonus, you then get one for each nostril! Very handy for your busted nose!

    Of course, the best solution is not busting your nose in the first place…

  7. i don’t care what people say about how gross diva cups are, i haven’t paid a cent for tampons in 5 years so that’s an automatic win in my book.


  8. One of my friends installed a beautiful piece of tampon art into my room. It involved red glitter, and the tampons looked like they were just suspended in thin air, and it was amazing.

  9. WOW. I was just complaining about the fact that I hated/cannot use tampons last week… this is perfection.

    • I can’t use them either! I get horrible sharp shooting pains in my vagina. And yes, I’m putting them in right. I don’t know WTF that’s about.

  10. This post comes at a really perfect time in my life, when I am being peer pressured into / but also just seriously considering switching from tampons to a Diva cup. The savings alone!

    So #relevanttomyinterests as usual, Autostraddle. Thanks.

    • Thank you! He says thank you too. The tampon mouse doesn’t say thank you—he is a tampon.

    • This looks like some kind of painting you’d see in a horror movie before someone gets killed or something.

      • It’s a screencap from next weeks Pretty Little Liars.

        [5:06pm] ‘Whoever finds them, gets to fingerbang Ali the most! -xoxo A’

        [5:09pm] “Dammit Emily, keeping a stash of Ali’s tampons this whole time is just cheating. I’m supposed to be the creepy one! :( :( -A.’

        *Cut to 9hr long ‘Ravenswood’ commercial.*

    • I don’t know why it took this to remind me but I just remembered being on a big multi university sports clubs tour in Spain and seeing a group of guys dressed as used tampons…same kind of creepy I guess!

  11. LOLing at these posts. I love the xmas tree. Maybe that’s something I’ll do this year. Get those really colorful ones and stick em on. Hell I’ll even make a Bethlehem scene and draw faces on them. xD

  12. I have literally stuffed a teddy bear with tampons.

    When I started using my moon-cup (branding), I was left with a stockpile of tampons that I bought when they were on special.

    I did tear them apart first and fluff up the cotton though.

    It worked really, really well.

  13. I love obs, but my cats love them even more. They bounce! They spin! You can carry them in your teeth!

  14. #teampads

    I just can’t walk around all day with something shoved up my vagina and pretend that that isn’t a thing that’s happening. I cannot do it.

    • As great as the diva cup has been for me I prefer the lighter days where I can use just a reusable pad instead (I get them from Party in My Pants, the flannel ones feel like a hug for your vulva and it’s fantastic.)

  15. One time my foster sister put two tampons in because she had a heavy flow and I guess in her fifteen year old mind she thought it was a brilliant idea and she ended up having to go to the ER because she couldn’t get the first one out.

  16. Getting an iud an not having periods is the only good thing to come out of not realizing I was gay for a super long time. It’s pretty much the best thing ever. I suppose I’ll have to choose a team again when it has to come out. Sigh.

      • Did you have the non-hormonal one? From what I’ve heard, Mirena (what I have) usually helps with periods and cramping and the copper version sometimes makes them worse. This is totally secondhand info though, so I don’t actually know what I’m talking about.

  17. I legit thought that tampon suit was real at first, somehow it did not seem at all implausible that someone would actually make one

  18. Every month I use my cup and am amazed at how much less my period sucks. In my regular life, and even traveling in a super remote area last summer.

  19. I think I’m just going to keep doing the thing where I take The Pill full time and never get my period again. That way I don’t have to deal with any of this pads/tampons/cups stuff! And also I don’t get horrible debilitating cramps that leave me unable to stand up straight for days at a time and have me dry heaving/vomiting from pain. There’s also that.

    • I’m not a doctor, so take this with lots of salt, but I’ve heard (from my doctor) that you should get your period at least 4 times a year/every 3-ish months minimum, or else the lining in your vagina can get screwed up. (“Screwed up” is definitely a medical term, by the way.) If I were you, I’d talk to a gyno about that. Also, the cramps and vomiting and stuff could be a sign of some stuff. Again, I’m not a doc, but I have a hormonal disorder and have learned about this type of thing.

      • Well, the vomiting is just because the pain gets so severe and that’s how I react to horrible pain, I guess (it’s so helpful!). I also have that reaction when my joint pain gets out of control. But I have talked to my gyno about this and I’ve been diagnosed with PCOS (I’ve got some other lovely symptoms as well) and she was the one who suggested I take the pill full time, since I’d tried the “4 periods a year” thing and was still completely debilitated. For some people, taking the pill the rest of the time helps eliminate those symptoms, but not for me apparently. And since I don’t want to lay around in bed trying to will myself to die ~40 days a year, my gyno said just take the pill all the time.

        Honestly, it might be true that not getting your period screws with the uterine lining, but even if that’s true, I don’t want kids so I don’t really care if that shit works. If it gets too problematic, I’ll just have it taken out!

        • I think I’ve heard whisperings of endometrial cancer from that? I could however be wrong. I completely sympathize with wanting to get that stuff out though. I have emdometriosis, have had laser surgery once, and things are flooding and painful and awful again. I’m aware hysterectomy doesn’t totally cure endo but I really wanna do it to stop the crazy bleeding.

  20. #teamcup

    This post made me realized I missed mine sooo much. I somehow lost it moving and traveling all over the place and I’ve had to spend money on tampons. Boo that. Just bought a new one instead of hopelessly searching where I know it isn’t. Now I’m gonna take this extra stash of tampons and stuff a teddy bear with it. oh yes.

  21. I love my cup, because I hate paying for things, and it was so nice to only have to pack that for A-Camp rather than a bunch of tampons.

    Didn’t help too much with the a-cramps though.

  22. The “DO ALL THE SCIENCE” drawing is NOT from Scientopia. It’s an original comic drawing by Allie Brosh from “Hyperbole and a Half.” Might want to change the credits and/or get her permission to use it.

  23. When I was in fourth grade, we had a one-day health class with a guest speaker who came in and talked about pregnancy (glossing over how sex worked) and puberty. The latter part of the talk involved handing around a pair of underwear with a clean pad in them, and a single unused tampon. It took probably less than a minute for someone to figure out how to kind of shoot the tampon out of its applicator, and from then on chaos reigned. Everyone was fighting to get ahold of the magical projectile and launch it at each other’s heads. I don’t remember how they calmed us all down, but that is still my clearest memory of that health class.

  24. I am so glad to be back in the diva cup game! I had to use pads while waiting for surgery to get ovarian cysts removed, since there was no room for the cup with those cysts squishing everything around. Now my ovaries are better and my diva cup and I are reunited. Hurray!

  25. Here in South Africa (not sure about the rest of the world), you find tampons in first aid kits for plugging bullet holes. They work really well.

  26. In 11th grade, I was on Air France with two friends. I have always been and will always be an awkward and ungainly child. I managed to get my luggage down from the overhead compartment without hitting anyone in the face, which I considered a win. However, when we got outside, my friends gushed, “How brave of you!” “What a feminist statement!” I was like What and they were like, “When you dumped tampons on all those passengers’ heads and didn’t give a fuck! So badass!” I didn’t do it on purpose but I wish I had.

  27. Tampons are evil. As someone who got TSS despite following all the rules on the OMG TSS Scary Tampon Rules pamphlets, I would like to just remind everyone that tampons are evil and there is nothing you can do to keep your tampons from killing you except not using them. Using the ~right size~ doesn’t matter and taking them out in a timely manner doesn’t matter because you can (and I did) get TSS from a tampon you’ve just put in.


  28. I use reusable soft cups, but I’m leaning towards finally buying a diva cup. I think I may actually find a stray tampon to use as a cat toy though…

  29. My dog got ahold of my diva cup and chewed the stem off so I couldn’t take it out without spilling it everywhere. I had to use tampons and my vagina CRINGED every time I had to pull it out.
    I <3 alternative menstrual products!

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