Sounds basic, but seriously, how do you insert a tampon? Enter, a little tampon 101.
Total Time: 2 minutes
Ready to insert your tampon? Start off by washing your hands. If you’re using a tampon with an applicator, hold the part at the bottom of the applicator between your thumb and middle finger. For non-applicator tampons, hold the bottom of the tampon itself in the same way.
Find the right angle for tampon insertion
Spread your labia to make way for the tampon. Insert the tampon into your vaginal opening at an angle of ~ 45˚. Some people find it helpful to stand with one foot on the toilet or bathtub. Though everyone’s vagina is different, it will be challenging to get the tampon to sit deep enough if you try inserting straight on. Shallow tampons = ?
Push it (real good)
Once the tampon is deep enough (tip: it is usually deep enough when your fingers are touching/close to touching your vagina) use your pointer finger to gently push the tampon out of the applicator/push the tampon into place (if not using an applicator).
Relax and make sure it’s comfortable
Sometimes it can be difficult to get the tampon into place – maybe there isn’t enough lubrication or your muscles are too tense. First, relax. Second, don’t be afraid to stick a finger up there and gently push the tampon into place. Being able to feel your tampon when you walk or sit down is the worst, but once you get it in place you shouldn’t be able to feel anything.
Throw the applicator in the trash, button up those cute jeans (or pull up those comfy sweatpants—we feel you), and wash your hands!
*Important note: Tampons are NOT for flushing! They don’t break down like toilet paper, so they can easily clog your system and we would hate to see that happen (also, it’s rude to anyone on the other side of the clog). Instead, wrap that baby up and toss it in the trash. If you’re looking for a more environmentally-friendly option, consider no applicator, a reusable applicator, or a menstrual cup.
Remove the tampon (when you’re ready)
Before you do anything, wash those hands. Then, to take out your tampon, gently pull the string. If you have a freak out moment and can’t find the string, take a deep breath; we promise, it’s there. Just feel around and you will find it. If you’re finding it a little painful to remove the tampon, it might be too dry if it hasn’t absorbed enough blood. You can try leaving it in (but do not exceed eight hours) and next time, opt for one with a lower absorbency level, depending, of course, on your flow.
Still having trouble with tampons?
Bear in mind, tampons aren’t for everyone. If you’re using a tampon for the first time, be patient with yourself. Try using a mirror. Listen to some relaxing or even “pump up” music. It might just take you a little bit of practice. Also, don’t be afraid to ask for tips from someone who uses tampons!
If you’re finding it really uncomfortable to impossible to use a tampon or you experience a lot of pain upon insertion, this can be super frustrating and it might not be your best option. So, what could be going on?
For one, you might be experiencing vaginal dryness. This could be for any number of reasons and a little lube can go a long way! You might also try a tampon with a lower absorbency level. If your vagina feels tense, you might have a condition known as vaginismus; if the sensation feels more like a painful sting, you might have vulvodynia. Check out our Pelvic Pain Guide for a list of potential causes. It’s also possible your pain is stemming from a vaginal infection, an STI, a cyst, or inflammation of the cervix.
Some people who have historically experienced sensitivity to tampons report a more comfortable experience using organic cotton tampons due to the lack of potentially irritating chemicals. Other options, if you want to abandon tampons altogether, include pads, period underwear, or menstrual cups. At the end of the day, it’s your period and it’s up to you what product(s) you use to manage it! Don’t force something that doesn’t feel good and instead find what works best for you.