Let’s face it: Not all sanitary products are created equal. There’s nothing wrong with using a pad, but sometimes it feels like a diaper, who are we kidding?

That’s where tampons come in: a piece of cotton with a string that you insert into your you know what when you have your period.

It’s not glamorous. It’s not fun. It’s sometimes uncomfortable. But it gets the job done. So let’s celebrate this glorious cotton plug with a list of things you might not have known about ‘em.

  1. They weren’t always made of cotton.

    Tampons first made their appearance in the late 20s, and they weren’t as efficient as they are today. They were made out of materials such as weeds, wool, paper, sponges, papyrus, and more. We know what you’re thinking: What did they use before tampons? It’s been said that women in ancient Greece used thin planks of wood wrapped in lint. Eek.

  2. They don’t last forever.

    Did you know there’s an expiration date on your tampons? That’s right—they last only five years. They’re not a sterile product, so if they’re not stored properly, bacteria and even mold can grow on them. And you know those tampons you just toss in your purse for later that stay there for…years sometimes? Because they’re in close contact with things like dust, pen ink, or perfume, their shelf life might be shortened. So definitely discard those if you’re not using them.

  3. Tampons can throw off your pH levels.

    A tampon is essentially a foreign object your lady parts, and that can throw off the balance of its pH levels. And if that happens often, you might be at risk for getting a bacterial infection, which can be uncomfortable.

  4. Americans use this many tampons on her lifetime.

    Over 16,800! That number includes sanitary pads and is based on an average estimate from Representative Carolyn Maloney (D-NY). He also said American women spend over $2 billion a year on feminine hygiene products. Um, we think our money could definitely be better spent elsewhere!

  5. A tampon can’t get lost inside you.

    You might’ve heard some scary horror stories—of women “losing” a tampon inside of them—that made you scared to use tampons for a while. But fear not, you can’t actually lose a tampon when it’s inside of you. Getting it stuck? Yeah, that happens sometimes: it can get stuck at the top of the vagina near the cervix, and the string can get tangled around it. But with a little digging, you’ll get it out in no time, so don’t panic!

  6. They have more than one purpose.

    While tampons were created for only one purpose, over the years, people have gotten creative and have used them for various other situations, particularly nose bleeds (they work great if you need to use something quick)! That said, they can absorb any kind of blood—even gun or knife wounds. So it’s always good to keep one on hand just in case (for your period, or another much more dire situation).

  7. The scented ones aren’t great for you.

    They may smell good, but scented tampons are a version you might want to steer clear of, as they can actually increase your risk of developing a yeast infection. Surprisingly, the scented tampons also tend to have the opposite effect as intended and can make the odor worse, experts say.

  8. People used to believe tampons could cause pleasure.

    Back in the early 30s when tampons were super new, people actually believed tampons could start up an orgasm. Some were against tampons because they believed they could break a girl’s hymen and cause them to lose their virginity. Can you believe that?

  9. The historical origin of the word makes perfect sense.

    The word “tampon” originally came from the medieval French word “tampion,” meaning a piece of cloth to stop a hole, a stamp, plug, or stopper. That certainly fits the bill!

Did some of these tampon facts blow your mind? We definitely never knew any of these things!