Menstrual Mishap: How To Remove a Stuck Tampon

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If you don’t understand the anatomy of your vagina this could be truly frightening. A horror show image, as you imagine a soiled tampon free floating in your belly lost among your intestines. Take heart! It is impossible to actually lose a tampon.

Where Can a Tampon Go?

The answer is, nowhere! Your vagina is a closed space. Think of it as a pouch with one opening, and this is at the lower end of the vagina.

The upper end or top of the pouch is where you find the cervix, which is connected to the uterus. (The cervix also has an opening but this is very small and a tampon would never fit through it.) Once you put a tampon in the vagina, it will stay in the vagina until you take it out.

So Why Can’t I Find The String?

Your vagina is bigger than a tampon. The average vagina is just about 4 inches long and about 2 inches wide. Just 2 inches wide may seem a bit narrow, but remember that the walls of your vagina are very elastic and can stretch wide enough to let a newborn baby pass through. Your vagina can easily fit a tampon applicator and it can easily accommodate the tampon as it absorbs menstrual blood and becomes wider.  Measuring in at a little less than 2 inches long, it is possible that a tampon can move up and into the top or back of the vagina and the strings may no longer be visible.

Don’t Panic!

This can’t be stressed enough, do not panic!

Remember your vagina is like a pouch only one way in and one way out. If you put the tampon in it will be inside your vagina until you take it out.  When you get anxious or stressed you tend to contract or clench different muscles in your body. If you are panicking about the “lost” tampon, you are going to contract the muscles surrounding the vagina.

By contracting or squeezing the muscle of your pelvic floor, you are going to have a hard time locating and removing the “retained” tampon.

So What Should I Do Next?

First, take a deep breath and relax. Remember, the tampon is exactly where you put it, still in your vagina. Next, you can try and locate the tampon yourself.

  • Wash your hands well with soap and water.
  • Sit on the toilet with your legs open a bit more than hips width apart.
  • If you are having a hard time not squeezing the muscles of your pelvic floor gently bear down as if you are starting to urinate.
  • Gently insert two fingers into your vagina.
  • Sweep your fingers around the inside of your vagina trying to feel towards the top and back of your vagina.
  • If you can feel the tampon grab it between your fingers and pull it out.
  • If you can’t feel the tampon you may at least be able to locate the strings. If you do, pull the tampon out by the strings.

What If I Can’t Find It?

If you are able to relax enough to follow the steps above you probably will be able to successfully locate and remove the retained tampon.

However, if you aren’t able to remove it yourself you will need to see your healthcare provider to have it removed.

Remember it is not healthy for a tampon to stay in longer than eight hours, as it increases the risk of infection especially Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS). So, you should call your healthcare provider as soon as you determine you can’t remove it yourself.

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