By Dr Melisa Holmes, OB-GYN & Founder of Girlology
This is one of the most common questions I hear from new tampon users! So, let me just start with the good news: no. It’s impossible for a tampon to get lost in your body. Even though your vagina connects your outside parts to the inside of your body, there’s basically a dead end at the top of the vagina – your cervix – and there’s no way a tampon can get past that. The cervix is a barrier between the vagina and the uterus. Nothing can get above the cervix unless it’s liquid or microscopic in size!
If you have a lost or stuck tampon, it’s not really stuck, it’s just high up in your vagina and it may be squished sideways, making it hard to reach. This is most common if you accidentally forgot to take out a tampon before inserting a new one, or if you had sex without remembering to remove your tampon first (it’s not a good idea to have sex with a tampon in!). There are still some things you can try that make it easier to find and get out. Keep reading!
Firstly, wash your hands, then squat down, insert your finger into your vagina and move it around in a circle. You’ll probably be able to feel the tampon but getting it out can still be difficult. If you can’t poke it out, insert two fingers and try to get a grip on it. If you squat and bear down (like you would if you had to poo), it can help bring the tampon closer to the vaginal opening and make it easier to remove. If you still can’t get it out, or you just don’t feel comfortable rummaging around for it, remember that you should not wear a tampon more than eight hours, so you’ll need to get help from your OB-GYN or family doctor as soon as possible.
This is such a common worry, but as much as we worry about it, I have rarely – if ever – seen a string break when a tampon is being used normally. If you look closely at a Tampax tampon, you’ll see that the string is sewn all the way up the tampon – it’s not just attached at the end. That makes it super hard for it to pull off or break. You can feel confident that the string will not break if you’re using a tampon normally.
If your string is hidden, it’s also possible that you completely forget that there’s still a tampon in there. But don’t let the thought of that make you panic. Mother Nature has her way of providing other reminders – like odours. A long-lost tampon will begin to make itself known through a strong (foul-smelling) odour that is clearly not normal. If that starts to happen, it’s time to fish around, find it and pull it out or get to your doctor for some help immediately. Don’t be embarrassed. In the medical profession, we call it a ‘retained’ tampon, and we have all been there and removed that – more times than you would imagine!
That’s a more common scenario than a broken string. Sometimes, a tampon may seem lost because the string and the tampon get pushed higher up into the vagina. When that happens, it’s easy to remove it, and you can probably do it yourself. To get it out, just wash your hands, squat down, put your finger in your vagina, and you’ll probably be able to feel it and pull it out. If you can’t feel it, can’t reach it, or just don’t feel comfortable trying, see your doctor as soon as you can. And don’t be embarrassed, we do things like that all the time!
A lost tampon is not usually an emergency, but it should be taken care of as quickly as possible. If you feel fine but suspect a lost tampon and can’t remove it yourself, call your OB-GYN doctor’s office first. Often, they will see you right away or they’ll direct you to an urgent care centre. You’ll want to get it removed as soon as possible. However, if you suspect a retained tampon and you develop any of the signs or symptoms of TSS, you should go directly to the nearest A&E and let them know you may have a stuck tampon and you’re worried about TSS.