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):
- 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. This shouldn’t hurt and it shouldn’t feel like you are hitting a wall. If one of those happens, the tampon is probably not positioned correctly.
Once the tampon and applicator are in the vagina, start pushing the applicator part of the cylinder. The applicator will slide up and inside the second cylinder holding the tampon as the tampon pushes further inside the vagina. Here you will feel like you have hit a wall once the tampon is in.
- 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.
Now that you know how to put in a tampon, it’s time to learn how to remove it:
- 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.