Tampons vs pads

Old Nov 17, 10, 10:46 am
  #1  
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Tampons vs pads

I cannot believe this is now a reasonable question, and look forward to the day it isn't any longer. But in the meantime....it seems to me that both tampons and pads would show up on a scan, so even if you went through the scan you'd be referred for a pat-down. And if you refuse the scan, you get the pat-down automatically. In both cases, they're now specifically suspicious and extra zealous, in which case, they will feel a pad for sure, and depending on exactly how zealous, a tampon string. So....then what? Do they require some sort of "proof" that you are in fact menstruating, and not just pretending so that you can instead blow up a plane?

Given that this is now a reasonable scenario, my other question is: it seems to me that it's easier to pull out an in-use pad than in in-use tampon in a public setting, should need be, but less likely that the tampon would be noticed in the first place. For those who plan to opt-out of being scanned, and would prefer to be assaulted and humiliated the least amount possible (while still insisting on public screening), which would be recommended: pads or tampons?

It boggles my mind that this is what the Land of the Free, Home of the Brave, has come to.
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Old Nov 17, 10, 10:50 am
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I don't think a tampon would show up on the scan, since it's inside you. I could be wrong, my impression was they can't see INSIDE the body. I have an IUD, can they see that? I thought not. Maybe the string outside the body would show up, but they're very tiny. It would look like part of your underwear.

Pads I have no idea.
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Old Nov 17, 10, 11:00 am
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The general answer appears to be that sanitary napkins can be seen on the AIT, but the TSA screener is to be discreet when resolving the issue.

Unfortunately, that doesn't inspire a whole lot of confidence to me.
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Old Nov 17, 10, 11:02 am
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Originally Posted by jesirose View Post
I don't think a tampon would show up on the scan, since it's inside you. I could be wrong, my impression was they can't see INSIDE the body. I have an IUD, can they see that? I thought not. Maybe the string outside the body would show up, but they're very tiny. It would look like part of your underwear.

Pads I have no idea.
Wouldn't the string show up though?
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Old Nov 17, 10, 11:06 am
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Originally Posted by Ellie M View Post
Wouldn't the string show up though?

I said as much in my post.

If someone was concerned about it, it's not difficult to place the string just inside your body for a short while, the visit the restroom and remove the string. I've done that when wearing a swimsuit and was concerned about the string poking out of the suit.

My understanding is they can't see inside the body, so if the string is entirely inside your body, you theoretically would be fine. However it is a small string. How does the scanner tell the cotton string from the cotton fabric of your underwear?
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Old Nov 17, 10, 11:07 am
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The string is what I was thinking of - the tampon itself shouldn't show up, but the string clearly should, and technically, could also be felt by a really zealous searcher.
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Old Nov 17, 10, 11:08 am
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Originally Posted by Ellie M View Post
Wouldn't the string show up though?
Originally Posted by Lizabeth View Post
The string is what I was thinking of - the tampon itself shouldn't show up, but the string clearly should, and technically, could also be felt by a really zealous searcher.

Honestly, I would think it would, but it would also blend in pretty well with the scatter generated by the seat of ones pants. Four pieces of fabric meet there, I can't imagine a string would really stand out all that much. A sanitary napkin certainly would, especially if it held any liquid turned to gel.

Also for the same reason, I don't think a string would be felt by a screener. There's already enough fabric in the way there.
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Old Nov 17, 10, 11:09 am
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Originally Posted by Ellie M View Post
Wouldn't the string show up though?
Isn't this the famous tampon paradox? In order to be effective at detecting explosives in a vagina or rectum the scanner has to have sufficient resolution to see a tampon ... but most reasonable people object to that level of resolution due to invasion of privacy.

So instead we have expensive scanners (with profits lining the pockets of the politically well-placed) that both invade privacy and fail to resolve sufficiently to identify what the TSA claims they are there to identify.
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Old Nov 17, 10, 11:11 am
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Also, there are other options for menstruating women who want to use the scanner and not be pat-down. Why not use a moon cup / diva cup or similar device?

Reusable (cotton washable fabric) pads are also popular with some women. I wonder how the machine would tell the difference from a cotton pad and cotton undies.

Also, could they even require you to remove a tampon or pad? I'd think those count as medical devices, similar to how glasses count. Just because only 1/2 the population needs them at some point, they're still medical. It'd be a biohazard to not use some sort of device when you're menstruating.
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Old Nov 17, 10, 11:18 am
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Knowing many men's reactions to discussions of this sort, I'd put a 'Men don't read!' warning on it, but if I did, they'll read just to see what they shouldn't read....

You know the world has really gone mad when such things are a consideration
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Old Nov 17, 10, 11:28 am
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A tampon string is typically a cotton or a polyester material and will not attenuate the x-ray or MMW very much. As such, I doubt that it will be seen except at higher resolutions. Especially given that there are various seams from pants, underwear, etc. in that region.

Last edited by FlyingUnderTheRadar; Nov 17, 10 at 11:34 am
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Old Nov 17, 10, 11:30 am
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Originally Posted by jesirose View Post
Also, there are other options for menstruating women who want to use the scanner and not be pat-down. Why not use a moon cup / diva cup or similar device?

Reusable (cotton washable fabric) pads are also popular with some women. I wonder how the machine would tell the difference from a cotton pad and cotton undies.

Also, could they even require you to remove a tampon or pad? I'd think those count as medical devices, similar to how glasses count. Just because only 1/2 the population needs them at some point, they're still medical. It'd be a biohazard to not use some sort of device when you're menstruating.
It would also be a biohazard to pull it out and plop it on the table if taken in for a "resolution" pat down, however that's fully what I intend to do.

I was thinking of stocking up on those extra thick pads they give out at doctor offices just for the purpose of walking through security.
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Old Nov 17, 10, 11:31 am
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I did look consider putting this in the Women Travelers forum, but, well, while it's specific to women, it's only an issue *because* of these stupid "security" measures. I figure the guys can handle it. And if not, they should, and at least they'll thank their lucky stars that when considering all the hassles of security options, this one isn't one they need to deal with...

But yeah, it's beyond crazy that this is a real consideration now. I can barely wrap my brain around it.

I didn't realize there was a formal tampon paradox, but yes, that's exactly the point - for both scanning and groping - either it's zealous enough to catch this stuff, in which case it's ridiculously intrusive to the point of illegality, or it's not zealous enough to catch this stuff, in which case, it's useless as security.

Which brings me back to that original question - how would they ask you to prove yourself? Because surely if they're even going to pretend this has to do with security, just saying "oh, that's a menstrual pad/tampon string" shouldn't be good enough, right? And given the numbers of women traveling, at any given time there are clearly large numbers of women who are wearing tampons and/or pads, who are not suddenly going to start wearing diva cups or the like...it's got to come up often enough. For myself, I know I'm not going to go into a private room with just a TSA person (and if they insist, I'd insist on a LEO joining us), which then leaves some method of proof that's possible publicly. I know I'd be much more able to pull out a pad than a tampon in public view, although the idea is a bit horrifying on many levels. Of course, yes, that then gets into the whole biohazard area, and perhaps then I'd be risking arrest on that ground, but what would the alternative be if proof of some sort is demanded? (And again, if proof *isn't* demanded, can we just end this ridiculous charade already???)
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Old Nov 17, 10, 11:31 am
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It's just so sad that it's come to the point that we have to wonder about this, because of the new invasive TSA screening process...maybe the TSA will even be so kind to inquire about the size of the pad during a grope too?
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Old Nov 17, 10, 11:36 am
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Originally Posted by jesirose View Post
Also, there are other options for menstruating women who want to use the scanner and not be pat-down. Why not use a moon cup / diva cup or similar device?
The thought has always grossed me out. Theoretically you can wear them all day, but what if you are forced to empty it in an unsanitary public restroom? Or an airplane lav? (Pet Peeve: those faucets where it is impossible to wash your hands correctly, due to the fact you have to continually press the dirty handle to get water from the faucet.)

I can't believe that a government policy would actually have me questioning my feminine hygiene products.

Originally Posted by FlyingUnderTheRadar View Post
A tampon string is typically a cotton or a polyester material and will not attenuate the x-ray or MMW very much. As such, I doubt that it will be seen except at higher resolutions. Especially given that there are various seams from pants, underwear, etc. in that region.
+1 - I bet a tampon string wouldn't show up.
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