The sweet spot is every 4 to 8 hours.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends never leaving in a tampon for more than 8 hours.

You can, however, take it out sooner than 4 hours. Just know there’s a chance the tampon will have a lot of white space because it won’t absorb as much blood.

It can, but this can be fixed by wearing the correct tampon size.

If you have a heavier flow, you might find that you need to change it closer to the 4-hour side of the FDA’s recommendation.

For a heavier flow, you might consider using a super, super-plus, or ultra tampon when your flow is at its peak.

On the other hand, if you have a fairly light flow, you might be able to leave it in for a full 8 hours without any leakage.

Lighter flows might also require a smaller tampon, such as a light or junior size. This can also prevent wearing the tampon for too long.

If you get a little pee on your tampon string, there’s nothing to worry about, and you certainly don’t have to change it right away.

Unless you have a urinary tract infection (UTI), your urine is bacteria-free, so you won’t be able to give yourself an infection if the tampon string absorbs some urine.

If you don’t like the feeling of a wet tampon string and you’re not ready to replace your tampon, use clean fingers to gently hold the string to the side as you pee.

Your tampon is safe as long as you’re swimming. The tampon will stay put until you’re done swimming.

You might want to change your tampon when you’re changing your clothes after swimming. You’ll have a fresh start and keep your clean underwear free of any pool water that might be on the tampon string.

If you’re planning on swimming longer than 8 hours, you’ll want to take a bathroom break to change your tampon mid-swim. Just remember to wash your hands carefully before and after.

If you can’t change your tampon every 8 hours, there are other menstrual products to consider:

  • Pads are worn on underwear. It’s recommended that you change them every 6 to 8 hours, but since they’re external, there’s not as great a chance of infection.
  • You can also consider period underwear, which can be worn for longer than 8 hours because of its naturally antimicrobial properties.
  • Menstrual cups can be worn for up to 12 hours before they need to be emptied and washed.

With any of these methods, you’ll probably have to change them more frequently if you have a heavy flow.

It’s not unhealthy, but it’s certainly wasteful. The more tampons you use, the more waste you’ll create.

There’s also a chance that replacing your tampon more often can increase discomfort. Some people find dry tampons more painful or uncomfortable to remove than those that are adequately absorbed.

Toxic shock syndrome (TSS) is a serious condition that can be associated with tampon use, but it’s rare. TSS occurs when bacteria produce toxins inside the vaginal canal.

Although the likelihood of getting TSS is very low, there’s still a chance when wearing tampons.

The connection between tampons and TSS is still largely debated.

While some experts believe that a tampon left in place for a long period of time attracts bacteria, others believe that tampon fibers scratch the vaginal canal and create an opening for bacteria to enter the bloodstream.

To decrease your risk for TSS, doctors recommend you:

  • Change your tampon every 4 to 8 hours.
  • Use the tampon size that corresponds with your flow amount.
  • Adjust your tampon size as your flow decreases, or alternate with other menstrual products.

Definitely. TSS symptoms will come on rapidly. If you experience the following, get immediate medical attention:

  • high fever
  • chills
  • diarrhea
  • sunburn-like rash
  • low blood pressure
  • redness in the eyes
  • skin peeling at the soles of the feet or palms of the hands

The key time for leaving a tampon in is 4 to 8 hours.

You can adjust your wear time within this time frame depending on your flow. Also adjust the absorbency of the tampon you’re using throughout your period.

Don’t exceed 8 hours of wear time. Should you have a hard time remembering to change your tampon after 8 hours, choose a different menstrual product, or consult your doctor for their recommendation.

Jen Anderson is a wellness contributor at Healthline. She writes and edits for various lifestyle and beauty publications, with bylines at Refinery29, Byrdie, MyDomaine, and bareMinerals. When not typing away, you can find Jen practicing yoga, diffusing essential oils, watching Food Network or guzzling a cup of coffee. You can follow her NYC adventures on Twitter and Instagram.