Updated 06 October 2015

How a doctor would remove a stuck tampon

In some cases women cannot remove tampons themselves. Dr Owen Wiese explains how a doctor would remove a tampon that has become stuck.


Many women have had a tampon stuck in their vagina with the strings missing or broken off. Most women simply reach in and remove it, but for some it may not be that easy as the tampon may be lodged in quite deeply or not easily found.

Luckily, when an object gets stuck in the vagina, all is not lost. There are only so many places where it can go. Most women try to remove the tampon themselves, and in most cases they successfully do so. However, in some cases this is not possible, and leaving a stuck tampon in the vagina may lead to a rare, but potentially very dangerous condition called toxic shock syndrome.

Systemic infection

In this condition, toxins produced by bacteria that grow in the vagina and on the tampon can cause fevers, pain, discomfort, foul smelling discharge from the vagina, vomiting and diarrhoea, a rash on the body, headaches, confusion and low blood pressure. These are all signs of a systemic infection spreading through the blood to other organs.

A woman may attempt to remove the tampon herself by placing one foot on a toilet seat and reaching in as far as possible. If this is not possible, or they can't locate the tampon, a trip to the doctor is necessary.

In his surgery, your doctor will do the following:

1. You will be asked to lie on your back with your legs pulled up and spread widely.

2. Your doctor will examine the outside of your vagina

3. He will introduce a speculum (a metallic or plastic clamp-like instrument) that will open up your vagina to allow him to examine your vagina under direct light.

4. In most cases your doctor will immediately spot the lost tampon and remove it with a clamp.

5. Your vagina will be examined for any injuries or signs of infection.

If there are signs of infection, your doctor will prescribe antibiotics.

Read more:

Where's my tampon?

Toxic tampon shock

Tampons may someday detect ovarian cancer

Dr. Owen J. Wiese is Health24's resident doctor. After graduating from Stellenbosch University with additional qualifications in biochemistry and physiology he developed a keen interest in providing medical information through the media.


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