All these years of getting
your period makes you a tampon expert now, right? Er, except for that
heart-stopping moment when you go to yank out your tampon and … wait … where is it?
Did you even have one in? Or is it … stuck? SOS.
First, breathe. A stuck tampon is more common and far less freaky
than you might think. “Most of the time, a woman simply forgets the tampon is
in there or she places a second one, forgetting about the first,” says Dr
Jessica Kiley, associate professor and chief of obstetrics and gynaecology at
Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.
More good news: A tampon doesn’t really have anywhere to go – the vagina‘s only
about seven or ten centimetres deep, and the opening of your cervix is way too
small to let a tampon pass through, says Kiley. So, a tampon is never really
Still, having a tampon stuck up there isn’t exactly something
you want. Keep this info handy just in case one of your tampons goes
How do I know if I have a tampon stuck up there?
Your discharge will give you a hint: If it’s changing colour to a
thick yellow or even brownish red – yes, even when on your period – that might mean
you left a tampon up there.
This is especially true when combined with other tell-tale
symptoms like a musty or fishy odour that gets stronger (and fouler) as time
passes, along with abdominal cramping, says Dr Jessica Shepherd,
obstetric-gynaecologist and gynaecologic surgeon at Baylor University Medical
You might even feel a sensation of pressure thanks to a tampon
being more deeply lodged or because you’ve put another one in (a.k.a., every
girl’s fear when putting in another tampon).
On their own, these symptoms are definitely a sign you might have
a tampon stuck – and need to get it out asap. But having a combo of these
symptoms, in addition to fever, nausea, vomiting, or body rash could indicate
something more serious, like Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS), which happens
when bacteria enter the bloodstream through tiny tears in your vagina. While
this is rare, the longer you have a tampon up there (like longer than the
recommended eight hours), the greater the risk of TSS, so it’s even more reason
to fish it out.
Read more: 5 alternatives to pads and tampons you should think about trying
Okay, so what do I do if there is a tampon stuck?
Don’t panic – seriously. Your muscles clench when you’re anxious,
even the ones down there. Contracting your pelvic muscles can make it harder to
locate and remove the tampon.
It’s definitely okay to DIY. Pros recommend squatting over a
toilet or standing with one foot elevated on a toilet cover or edge of the
bathtub so that your pelvis is at an angle, which can help you access the
With clean hands (and cut nails, please!), insert one finger and
gently sweep around to locate it. Grab and lightly pull. Don’t worry, you won’t
hurt yourself or do any damage by reaching up, says Kiley, who recommends
having some lube nearby for easier entry.
Once the tampon is outta there, Shepherd cautions against
douching. Instead, briefly rinse your vagina with a shower head to clean up any
blood or discharge. In a day you should be symptom-free and back to your norm.
Read more: Wait a second – are tampons legitimately bad for you?
Well, what if I can’t find it, but something still feels
Go ahead and call your doctor. There’s nothing to be embarrassed
about – they see this kind of stuff all the time. Pros of having an expert help? They
get a full-front view compared to, well, barely any view when doing it yourself
(yoga can only make you so flexible). Plus, your
obstetric-gynaecologist has all the tools necessary to, uh, get up in
there – like a speculum, says Shepherd.
Another reason to make a visit? Worsened symptoms, especially when
fever, pain, or heightened stench come into play. Sure it’s rare, but again,
TSS is no joke. So ditch Dr Google and have a consultation with your doc IRL,
just to be safe.
This article was originally
published on www.womenshealthmag.com
Image credit: iStock