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How To Deal With Tampon Discomfort

Using a tampon for the first time can be quite an intimidating moment. Learning how to insert a tampon correctly, without any pain, can take a few tries to get the hang of. And even after a couple of attempts, some just can’t quite ever get it right, or maybe they learn that they simply prefer pads - and that’s okay.

Struggling with tampons, in the beginning, is a lot more common than you might think, with some women even struggling well into their adult years. When a tampon hurts, often it comes down to the technique, but sometimes it can be due to health conditions or using it at the wrong time during your period when your flow isn’t heavy enough.² The important thing to remember is that you aren’t alone. Making small adjustments can make a world of difference when it comes to minimising or eliminating your discomfort.


Guide to inserting a tampon

You’ve put it in incorrectly

Should a tampon hurt, sometimes, the reason could be because you haven’t inserted it properly. This could be because you haven’t pushed it in deep enough, or maybe you’ve placed it at the wrong angle. When inserting your tampon, make sure you aim towards your lower back, with the string hanging outside.²,³ You’ll know it’s in deep enough if at the end all you see is the string. If there’s still some tampon sticking out, you’ll most certainly feel pain or discomfort. If this happens, wash your hands and try to push it in a little further.

Taking it out too soon or using the incorrect size

If there isn’t enough moisture because your flow is too light, then inserting a dry tampon could also be the cause of your discomfort. A dry tampon, no matter how soft, will cause friction when it rubs against the dryness of your vagina.¹ This will no doubt hurt. If this is happening, switch to a smaller tampon or perhaps even a pad until your flow is a bit heavier. Should it hurt to take a tampon out, it might be because you are removing it too soon.

Tight vaginal opening or vaginismus

For some women, a tight vaginal opening can also be the cause behind their discomfort when inserting a tampon. The possible reasons behind this could be because you are still a virgin, or because you’ve experienced some ‘trauma’ in your pelvic region at some point before. This trauma causes your pelvic floor muscles to become stressed and tighten, causing your vagina to clamp shut at even just the thought of inserting something into it.¹,³ So understandably, inserting a tampon with this condition could be really painful, or perhaps even impossible. 

In the case where you are still a virgin and your hymen is still intact, you might also find that you struggle when inserting a tampon. It’s important to note that using a tampon won’t break your hymen or take away your virginity. However, it could make using a larger tampon more difficult to use because your opening will naturally be tighter than someone who has had sexual intercourse before.

Lubricants and dilators

If you are left feeling frustrated because you still really want to use tampons, you could try moving to a smaller size, or using a water-based lubricant when inserting them. The moisture will help them to glide inside without any friction, and a smaller size will naturally soak up more moisture when matched with a suitable flow. If you have a tight vaginal opening due to a stressed pelvic floor, you can try to relax your floor muscles by using small dilators and doing pelvic floor exercises.³ If these techniques still don’t seem to work for you, then you might want to consult your doctor for further advice or try an alternative sanitary option.


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