We all have embarrassing questions that we’re too afraid to ask. Have no fear in this weekly series sexologist Elna McIntosh tackles them all.
Q: What happened to my tampon?
I put a tampon in this morning, and when I went to change it later in the day it was no longer there?
I know I definitely didn't remove it, as after putting it in I sat at my desk all afternoon writing out my essay ... so I don't really understand how it could have got pushed further up anyway.
So yeah, I had a dig around up there and I can't feel anything? I went for a rather large bowel movement mid afternoon and wonder if it could have been pushed out during this without me realising? Like I said, I’ve had a search for it 3 times now and I can't feel anything at all up there. I've got really little hands, but I’m pretty sure I reached my cervix and I know nothing can go further up than there?
I'm a student living away from home so I don't have a GP and I don't really want to have to turn up at the hospital about it ... and there's no way I'm asking my housemates to have a look!
A lost tampon is almost never actually lost because tampons are not small enough to pass through the cervix and into the uterus. Even though tampons cannot normally go past the cervix, they can occasionally get lodged up inside the vagina, making them difficult to find and retrieve. If you think you have a lost tampon, you should first attempt to find it yourself. In the event that you cannot find... your tampon but still believe there is one inside of you, it might be a good idea to see your doctor or gynaecologist so she can either find it for you or confirm that there is no tampon present.
If you think you have a tampon lost inside of you, you should try to find it yourself before calling a doctor. The first thing you should do before trying to find your lost tampon is wash your hands to prevent getting germs and bacteria inside your vagina, which could lead to infection. After you have washed your hands, you should get into a comfortable position and feel around inside your vagina for the tampon string or for the actual tampon. If you find the tampon or string, you can try to carefully pull it out. In the event that you find nothing, there is a good chance that nothing is there because tampons typically take up too much space inside the vagina to not be easily located.
Tampons occasionally get lodged inside the inner folds of the vagina, and although this is rare, you may have difficulty finding and retrieving your tampon if this has happened. If you still have a strong feeling that there is a lost tampon inside of you even though you could not find it yourself, you should see your doctor or gynaecologist. If there is a tampon present, your doctor or gynaecologist should be able to find it for you without any problems. Chances are good that you haven't actually lost your tampon, and if this is the case, you'll be able to have some peace of mind after it is confirmed by a medical specialist that no tampon is there.
You should not feel embarrassed to see your doctor about a lost tampon. Many women refuse to get medical attention for this problem out of embarrassment, but it is a common occurrence that doctors are used to dealing with. If a tampon stays inside your body for days at a time, you are at risk of developing toxic shock syndrome, which is a serious illness that can be life threatening. Seeing your doctor to make sure you do not have a lost tampon is a good idea if you suspect there is one inside of you that you cannot retrieve, because failing to take one out that has been in place for more than a day greatly increases your risk of developing toxic shock syndrome.
This and other embarrassing questions will be answered weekly by sexologist, Elna McIntosh and dermatologist, Dr Rakesh Newaj.
Visit the InterSEXions Facebook page and also keep a lookout for the SABC1 TV series coming in February.