When your period hits, you probably reach for a tampon without a second thought. But a new research from a feminine hygiene company says it might be drying you out down there.
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Intimina, a company that makes menstrual cups and other feminine hygiene products, surveyed 1,500 women and found that, on average, women reported had a 66 percent decrease in vaginal dryness after switching from tampons to menstrual cups (as reported by the Daily Mail). The company also says on its website that menstrual cups “don’t cause the dryness often associated with tampons.”

Of course, this information comes courtesy of a company that makes an alternative to tampons. But is there some legitimacy to this? Turns out, yes.

“Some studies show that tampons can cause and/or exacerbate vaginal dryness,” women’s health expert Jennifer Wider, M.D., tells SELF.

Melissa Goist, M.D., an ob/gyn at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, agrees. “The tampon ‘wicks’ away the moisture from the menstrual cycle, but it can also absorb some of the vaginal moisture and vaginal flora (the normal bacteria that is typically in the vagina),” she explains to SELF. “This can be more obvious when using a tampon on a ‘light’ day or a ‘super’ tampon when a woman isn’t having a ‘super’ cycle.”

[post_ads]But tampons aren’t a major cause of chronic vaginal dryness. It’s usually linked to hormonal changes in a woman’s body, like childbirth and breastfeeding, as well as changes in a woman’s vaginal flora, Goist says. Excessive douching, lack of foreplay during sex, and certain allergy and other medications can also cause vaginal dryness, Wider says.

While tampons can exacerbate existing vaginal dryness (and not feel so great in the process), experts say the dryness they actually cause is usually temporary. “If a woman is irritated by using the tampons, dryness can ensue as long as she is using them,” says Wider. “If she discontinues use, the dryness should be a temporary thing.”

How temporary are we talking? Goist says the moisture is usually restored within 12 to 24 hours after a woman takes out her last tampon. However, some women are impacted by this more than others.

So, if you find that you get especially dry down there during that time of the month, try switching to a lighter tampon to make sure you’re not pulling away more vaginal moisture than you need to. Or maybe it's time to consider a menstrual cup—many women swear by them. If that still doesn’t work, talk to your doctor.