Tampon Use in Adolescence: Differences among European American, African American and Latina Women in Practices, Concerns, and Barriers



      Tampon use is common among European American adolescents, but much less so among African American and Latina adolescents. Reasons are largely unclear. The general goal of this study was to examine differences among European American, African American and English-speaking Latina women and Spanish-speaking women in tampon use, sources of information about tampon use, and concerns and barriers related to tampon use in their adolescent years.


      The sample included 165 low-income women ages 18 to 35 years (M = 24.1) who filled out a survey in a family planning clinic.


      European American women (71%) were significantly more likely to use tampons in adolescence compared to a considerably smaller proportion of African American (29%), English-speaking Latina (22%), and Spanish-speaking Latina women (5%). Mothers were a primary source of explanations about tampons for European American women, but not for ethnic minority women. African American and Latina English-speaking women were more likely to report that their mothers did not approve of tampons compared to none of the European American women. Specific concerns about tampons for Latina and African American women were that they were unsafe and inappropriate for virgins, and also for Latina women, that they could get lost or stuck. Overall, Latina women reported more concerns and barriers to tampon use than European American women which included a lack of knowledge on how to use them. Findings have implications for addressing the health education needs of low-income ethnic minority adolescents to reduce misconceptions and relieve concerns about tampons.

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