I’ve been getting my period for about four years now and I’ve only used a tampon twice before. I tried again this morning, using a light, small tampon, and when it was in, I felt pressure whenever I laughed, coughed, or sat down. I immediately took it out and it hurt quite a bit to take it out, so I didn’t put another one in. I’m a little scared, to be honest. I know it might be that I didn’t put it in the right way, but I don’t know how to tell if I did the wrong thing. I pushed it until it hurt to push more. Is there something I’m doing wrong when inserting a tampon?
Tampons are meant to make our lives easier – so why does it seem like they so often make things more complicated? If it helps, you should know that you definitely aren’t the only girl out there who has trouble inserting tampons. There are lots of girls who feel pain when they have inserted one, and there are girls who can’t even get that far because they can’t get it in at all. So, having difficulty with tampons is totally normal, and it’s also something you can get through.
The short answer is this: if it hurts to use a tampon, you’re inserting it the wrong way. For more details, we talked to Laura Goodman, the Senior Scientist for Tampax and Always. Laura said, “When inserted correctly, you should never feel pain or discomfort from your tampon.” But don’t worry! You can fix this.
Laura says, “Understandably, it can be scary to insert a tampon when you’ve never done it before. There are several reasons someone might find inserting a tampon painful. Some girls have ‘extra’ tissue, known as a strand, that can interfere with inserting tampons. Also, if your hymen is still intact, this can cause painful insertion. Similarly, vaginismus, the technical term for vaginal muscles tensing involuntarily, can also make it difficult to insert a tampon and is quite common among girls and young women. Anything that makes a girl fearful about vaginal insertion can cause this.”
Vaginismus might sound scary, but it’s not as bad as it seems – it’s really about anxiety and stress more than something actually being wrong down there. So, what should you do? Laura suggests this: “A major piece of advice would be to try and just relax.”
But vaginismus isn’t the only explanation. Laura says, “You could also be inserting the tampon incorrectly. When inserting, some girls hold the tampon upwards, however, you should be aiming the tampon toward the small of your back. For the correct way to insert a tampon, we suggest you talk to your mom or female relative who has successfully inserted a tampon before. You can also reference this handy guide from Tampax called Tampax Training Camp.”
Other notes? Stick with the lighter, smaller tampons when trying out this technique, as those will definitely be the easiest to get in. And don’t push the tampon in until it hurts, because that could be making you feel sore. Just make sure it’s in enough so it doesn’t feel like it’s about to fall out. Oh, and be patient! For some girls, it can take a long time to get fully adjusted to using tampons, but once you get there, you’ll be fine.
What’s on your mind? Heather can help! Send her your question at firstname.lastname@example.org