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How can I use a tampon with rheumatoid arthritis?

When society talks about rheumatoid arthritis (RA), we hear how difficult it is to walk, dress, or shower.

But what we don’t hear are the complicated intricacies of tackling everyday life with limited mobility — like inserting a tampon while menstruating.

Let’s face it. The modern applicator tampon wasn’t designed with accessibility in mind. For women with rheumatoid arthritis, something as simple as inserting a tampon can be excruciatingly painful and challenging. The remaining options are to settle for a pad or another, less favorable resource as a last resort.

What if there was another way? At TINA, we believe people of all ages, abilities, and bodies deserve options during their menstrual cycle. Our product, TINA, was created to alleviate pain in your joints by ensuring you aren’t flexing your wrist during tampon insertion.

Let’s discover why using tampons with RA is tricky and how TINA can help.

What Is RA?

RA is an autoimmune disease. It’s not the type of arthritis you develop from “wear and tear” or an aging body. Rheumatoid arthritis occurs when your immune system attacks your body’s tissues. It can affect nearly any joint in your body, but it’s especially common in the wrist and fingers.

If you have rheumatoid arthritis, you may experience:

  • Joint pain
  • Joint stiffness
  • Swollen, red joints
  • Loss of joint function
  • Limited mobility
  • Fatigue
  • Weight loss
  • Fever

Left untreated, rheumatoid arthritis can affect internal organs or other body parts such as your eyes, mouth, and lungs.1 Like many other autoimmune diseases, symptoms can come and go based on RA flare-ups.

How RA Affects Your Period

If you have rheumatoid arthritis, you may notice your autoimmune symptoms increase during menstruation.

As it turns out, there may be a reason why. Studies show that symptoms of arthritis can flare up as hormones fluctuate during your menstrual cycle (4, 5). In addition, joint swelling, pain, and grip strength fluctuate in patients with rheumatoid arthritis during their period, making it even more challenging to use a typical tampon applicator (4).

Why does this matter? To comfortably insert a tampon, you should be able to grip, position, and push a typical tampon applicator without difficulty. Feedback from our customers showed how much those with limited mobility need a less painful, more accessible product option during their period. Here are some challenges our community members shared about their experiences using a tampon with RA.

“I'm 27 and have severe arthritis that has gotten worse over the last couple of years. I spend many days bed-bound and have [help] four times a day to aid with personal care. I 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.”

— Megan

“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. I would love to see if something like this would help someone like me.” 

— April

“They are so hard to grip, and ones without an applicator are really difficult on my fingers and wrist. It's the worst, especially on a beautiful hot vacation and being stuck on the beach instead of in the water.” 

— Serena

How can TINA help you?

TINA makes tampon insertion easy for people with RA – less pain, more accessibility. Here’s how:

  • Goodbye, painful pinching.The traditional tampon applicator requires you to hold it using a ‘pinch grip’ while you reach down and insert the tampon into your pelvis. This can be a difficult process when you have significant pain in your joints! TINA’s ergonomic handle enables you to insert the tampon without any wrist flexion.

  • Right angle, right away. With swelling or pain in your joints, it can be difficult to insert your tampon at precisely the right angle and depth for optimum comfort. Thankfully, TINA was designed to match the exact 45-degree angle of your vaginal canal, and its smooth insertion mechanism ensures that the tampon enters comfortably every time.

  • Correct depth, every time. If it feels like your body is pushing your tampon out after insertion, likely, it’s not deep enough. Maintaining a “pinch grip” while inserting a tampon to the correct depth can be uncomfortable and challenging if you struggle with limited mobility. With TINA, the tampon is inserted smoothly into the body via lubrication from blood and the plastic applicator. 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 the plunger in, deploying the cotton tampon into the body. The cotton is released when the TINA lips touch your body, ensuring the tampon is placed at the correct depth every time!

  • Extra reach and an easy grip:With the long handle attachment, TINA provides each user with an additional 4 inches of reach. The easy-to-grip handle is much more comfortable to hold than the traditional single applicator and requires less wrist and finger bending.

Look at what some of our customers say about their experiences with TINA.

“I found [TINA] easy to use. Once I loaded the tampon onto TINA, I proceeded to prop one leg up while I inserted it. It was easy to pull the tool away and go about my day until I had to remove and redo the process. It was easier to use TINA than inserting tampons the traditional way. I find that it works for my body type with ease.”

— Yivel  

“It is hard/ uncomfortable for me to insert the tampon with the level of arthritis in my hands. I was standing with one foot on the toilet and one leg was on the floor. The process was super easy, and I’d rate it a 10.

— Audra

Periods are a natural part of our body’s process, and inserting a tampon should feel natural, too! TINA is here to make your period less painful than needed for anyone with rheumatoid arthritis or other mobility issues.



References

  1. Mayo Clinic. Rheumatoid Arthritis. [internet]. 2021 May. [cited 2022 May 4]. Available from:   www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/rheumatoid-arthritis/symptoms-causes/syc-20353648

  2. 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. Available from:  https://academic.oup.com/rheumatology/article/50/4/703/1777760

  3. 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]. Available from:  https://helloclue.com/articles/sex/a-beginners-guide-to-sex

  4. Latman NS. Relation of menstrual cycle phase to symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.The American Journal of Medicine.. 1983. [cited 2022 April 29]. Available from  https://doi.org/10.1016/0002-9343(83)90789-1

  5. Womens Health. Menstrual Cycle [internet]. Office on Women’s Health. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. 2021. [cited 2022 April 28]. Available from  https://www.womenshealth.gov/menstrual-cycle

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