For starters, if the idea of reading this answer freaks you out, you aren’t ready for tampons yet! In order to use a product that gets inserted into your body, it’s important to be comfortable with where it’s going in the first place. So, if you have never taken a look at your vulva with a mirror, it might help to do so before trying to put in a tampon. After that, follow these steps (which are conveniently listed in the pamphlet inserted into every single box of tampons you will ever buy - just in case you need a reminder).
Putting a Tampon In
- Wash your hands. Unwrap the tampon.
- If your tampon has an applicator, hold the tube with one hand - usually it’s easiest to put your index finger on the top of the tube to do the pushing; put your thumb and third fingers on either side of the tube to hold it in place. Use your other hand to spread apart your labia.
- Put the tip of the applicator into your vagina and gently glide it up, pointing at a slight angle back. You only need to push in until your fingers are touching the vaginal opening, as the entire long applicator doesn’t enter your body. This shouldn’t hurt and it shouldn’t feel like you are hitting a wall. If one of those happens, the applicator is probably not positioned correctly.
- Once the first part of the applicator (the beginning part holding the actual tampon) is in the vagina, use your pointer finger or other hand to start pushing the long end of the applicator towards your body. This end cylinder will slide into the cylinder already inserted in your body and push the tampon further inside the vagina. Here you will feel like you have hit a wall once the tampon is in, since you can't push in the applicator end any further than it already is.
- Pull out the applicator. Remember that it was made from 2 cylinders, one of which has slid inside the other. You shouldn’t have any part of the applicator left inside your vagina now.
- The string should be hanging out of your vagina ever so slightly - usually there are a couple of inches of string that you can see or feel. When you stand up, if you notice the feeling of having something inside of you, it should be very slight - if you feel uncomfortable standing or walking, the tampon probably isn’t in correctly.
- Throw away the applicator and wash your hands. Remember to be thoughtful about the person who will be cleaning the bathroom (it might even be you!). If the applicator has blood on it, you might wrap it in a piece of toilet paper before throwing it in the trash. Don’t flush it, because many toilets cannot handle applicators and you might find yourself with an overflowing toilet.
It can take some trial and error before you're able to do this quickly and smoothly, which is why using a mirror to get as familiar with your vulva as you can is recommended. You might also have to play around with different tampon sizes, which vary based on how heavy your flow is. If you notice leaks quickly you might have to size up, and if you've inserted the tampon correctly but can feel it (or if you remove it and it's super dry) you might need to size down. Different days of your period can require different size tampons, such as a lighter one towards the end when you're not bleeding as much.
Keep in mind, tampons without an applicator require slightly different instructions. Instead of using the applicator to push the tampon into the vaginal cavity, just use your finger to move it in until only the string is hanging out.
Taking a Tampon Out
Make sure to be aware of how long your tampon can be in for (this info will be on the packaging and depends on the tampon size) and remove it within that time frame to avoid Toxic Shock Syndrome, a type of bacterial infection.
- Sit down or squat on the toilet and feel for the string.
- Pull gently and steadily - it will come out, though some pulls need to be stronger than others.
While nothing is impossible, it is almost impossible for the string to break off while trying to remove a tampon - that’s because the string is actually woven into the tampon itself.
Also, it’s 100% impossible to lose a tampon inside of you. The vagina is a muscular canal with a cap at the end called the cervix. The tampon cannot go anywhere beyond the cervix. Many girls worry that a tampon has gone missing inside them, but the only two explanations for this are:
- The tampon was removed earlier and you forgot (it happens to all of us at some point).
- The tampon got pushed far into the vagina and curled over onto itself. If you put your (clean) fingers inside your vagina you will feel it and can pull it out carefully.
If you are convinced there’s a tampon inside and you cannot feel it, call a healthcare professional who can help you - this is one to deal with sooner rather than later because you don’t want that tampon inside for too many hours.