The conversation around rheumatoid arthritis (RA) usually centers on difficulties walking, dressing or showering.
But this condition also can make it tough to use tampons.
In addition to experiencing poor and disrupted sleep, fatigue and sometimes fevers, people with RA sometimes report inflammation and stiffness in their joints leading up to and during their periods. It can be painful or difficult to insert a tampon when your finger and hand joints are inflamed.
That’s an important detail of everyday life we may not hear about from people who experience limited mobility. Let’s face it: Today’s applicator tampon wasn’t designed with accessibility in mind, leaving pads and other period products the remaining, less comfortable options.
Inserting a tampon doesn’t have to hurt your joints.
What if there were another way? At TINA Healthcare, we want people of all ages, abilities, and body shapes and sizes to have options to manage their periods. We created TINA (Tampon Insertion Aid) to alleviate your joint pain by ensuring you don’t need to flex your wrist or grip too hard when you insert a tampon.
Let's discover why using tampons with RA can be tricky and how TINA can help.
What Is RA?
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease, a condition that occurs when the body's natural defense system can't tell the difference between your own cells and foreign cells, causing the body to mistakenly attack normal cells. It’s not something you develop from “wear and tear” or age. Rheumatoid arthritis can affect nearly any joint in your body, but is especially common in the wrist and fingers. (1) If you have rheumatoid arthritis, you may experience:
- joint pain
- joint stiffness
- swollen, red joints
- loss of joint function
- limited mobility
- weight loss
Like many other autoimmune diseases, symptoms can come and go based on flare-ups.
Arthritis flares during your period
If you have rheumatoid arthritis, you may notice more symptoms, like joint pain, during your period. There may be a reason why.
Arthritis can reportedly flare as hormones fluctuate both before and during your menstrual cycle (4, 5) when estrogen levels are low. That can affect your swelling joints, pain level and grip strength, making it challenging to use a typical tampon applicator (4).
Tampons tough to insert during RA flares
To insert a traditional tampon, you need to grip, position, and push the applicator. If you experience rheumatoid arthritis, inflammation in the fingers and hands can make that painful.
Here’s how that sounds for some RA patients in the TINA community:
- "I'm 27 and have sore, swollen joints and little strength in my hands. One of my hardest changes was going from tampons to pads. I hate the way they feel but I just don't have the range of motion or strength to use a tampon currently.”
- “I have rheumatoid arthritis in my hands, and it’s becoming more and more difficult for my joints in my hands to function properly without pain. I can’t stand to wear pads, but tampons are hard to use sometimes.”
- “[Tampons] are so hard to grip, and ones without an applicator are really difficult on my fingers and wrist.”
TINA makes tampon insertion easy for people with RA.
Here's how TINA (Tampon Insertion Aid) offers comfort and accessibility for people with rheumatoid arthritis:
Goodbye, painful pinching.You need to hold a traditional tampon applicator with a ‘pinch grip’ while you reach down and insert the tampon–this can be difficult when you have significant joint pain! TINA’s ergonomic handle enables you to insert the tampon without wrist flexion (bending).
Right angle, right away. With swelling or joint pain that can worsen during your period, inserting a tampon at precisely the right angle and depth can be tough. With TINA, it’s easy because the device is designed to match the exact angle of your vaginal canal and has a smooth insertion mechanism to ensure you always insert the tampon comfortably.
Correct depth, every time. If you have limited mobility or joint pain, the “pinch grip” you need to insert a traditional tampon to the correct depth can be difficult or painful. TINA inserts the tampon smoothly. When the “lips” of the TINA device touch the outside of your body, and you continue pushing, the handle slides along the linear track and pushes in the plunger to insert and release the tampon comfortably every time.
- Extra reach and an easy grip: The tampon insertion aid has a long handle attachment that provides each user with an additional four inches of reach. The handle is easy to grip and more comfortable to hold than a traditional single applicator because you don’t need to bend your wrist and fingers.
Resources, tips for joint pain during your period.
There are a few more options to explore if you suffer from RA flares during your period:
Track your symptoms. When you keep an accurate record of your pain levels, as well as when you experience arthritis flares, it can help you identify possible patterns that you may be able to disrupt and solve.
Partner with your rheumatologist. Your doctor can help, too, especially when it comes to finding out whether medication, being active, resting or hot or cold therapy might offer relief from RA flares during your period.
Reach out. Ask questions and share how you feel so you have the information you need to make plans to manage your RA flare ups.
- Know that you aren't alone. Here's what some of our customer say about their experiences with TINA.
- Mayo Clinic. Rheumatoid Arthritis. [internet]. 2021 May. [cited 2022 May 4]. Accessed from: www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/rheumatoid-arthritis/symptoms-causes/syc-20353648
- Kim Colangelo, Sara Haig, Ashley Bonner, Caleb Zelenietz, Janet Pope, Self-reported flaring varies during the menstrual cycle in systemic lupus erythematosus compared with rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia. Rheumatology, Volume 50, Issue 4. April 2011. Pages 703–708. Accessed from: https://academic.oup.com/rheumatology/article/50/4/703/1777760
- Liao, Stephanie. Clue. A beginner's guide to sex: The basics of pleasure, STIs, condoms, and more—we've got you covered. [internet]. 2022 March. [cited 2022 May 4]. Accessed from: https://helloclue.com/articles/sex/a-beginners-guide-to-sex
- Latman NS. Relation of menstrual cycle phase to symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.The American Journal of Medicine.. 1983. [cited 2022 April 29]. Accessed from: https://doi.org/10.1016/0002-9343(83)90789-1
- Womens Health. Menstrual Cycle [internet]. Office on Women’s Health. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. 2021. [cited 2022 April 28]. Accessed from: https://www.womenshealth.gov/menstrual-cycle