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Why can it be difficult to insert a tampon?

From vaginal dryness to a painful reach, inserting tampons can be challenging.

Tampons may be new to you, so you may not be an expert on inserting them yet! It takes practice to put them in at the correct angle. If your vagina is dry, inserting a tampon can be uncomfortable. 

Vaginismus, a condition that causes tight vaginal muscles, is another possible reason. For some, inserting a tampon is simply too long a reach. For others, chronic conditions like rheumatoid arthritis can cause joint pain in the hands that worsens with pinching and pushing a tampon.

Tampons could be better, and the stats show it. About 62% of women opt for pads, but only 42% use tampons (1). Of the people who don’t use tampons, more than half said they find them uncomfortable. 

Let’s troubleshoot some of these problems.

You’re new to tampons

The fine print and diagrams on a tampon box can be confusing. Still: Please don’t toss out the instructions. If this is your first time inserting a tampon, read more here, and if your first period, read more here.

Comb through the instructions to identify the different parts of the tampon. Each brand can be slightly different. 

Check out video tutorials online. Maybe there’s a trusted friend or family member who can help walk you through it. Take your time and ask questions!

You feel the tampon

Inserted correctly, a tampon should feel so comfortable that you don’t know it’s there. So if you feel it, you may have inserted it at the wrong depth or angle

You may feel like something is blocking your tampon because it’s at an angle that causes it to knock into your vaginal wall. You also want to be careful not to insert it so deep that it hits your cervix (2). 

To keep your tampon from “going sideways,” check the orientation of your applicator and hold it perpendicular to your pelvis.

If you feel discomfort after inserting a tampon, you may need to insert it deeper. Use clean hands to push the tampon further up with your finger. You can also remove it and start again.  

To get your tampon's depth right, ensure the wider part of your applicator is inserted all the way. 

You’re experiencing vaginal dryness

Your tampon should slip right into place without much effort. That’s not going to happen if you’re dealing with vaginal dryness.  

One cause of dryness is that your flow may be light. If that’s the case, consider switching to a tampon created for lighter flows (less/lighter absorbency). 

Dryness is common when estrogen levels are low, including after childbirth and during breastfeeding and perimenopause (3). A lubricant can relieve vaginal dryness so that you can insert the tampon smoothly. 

You have vaginismus

Vaginismus is a condition that occurs when the muscles of the vagina tense up involuntarily. It can happen at the beginning of intercourse, during a pelvic exam, or when inserting a tampon!

Although 1%-6% of women reporthaving vaginismus, doctors believe it's fairly common and underdiagnosed because many patients are reluctant to discuss it.However, if you think your vaginal muscles are contracting this way, discussing it with your doctor is a good idea. They mayrecommend muscle exercises, gradually inserting a dilator to relax and open the vagina, or therapy.

You can’t quite reach “down there” 

There are different reasons some people can’t reach their pelvis to insert a tampon. But the problem is typically the tampon itself.

It can be frustrating that tampons are not made for every body type or size. Similarly, if a person has a medical condition that prevents them from bending or reaching–or simply gripping a tampon–a traditional tampon applicator isn’t going to help.

Some people turn to pads. We have a suggestion for you: a tampon insertion aid (TINA).

TINA provides you with the following:

  • four inches of extra reach 
  • an easy-to-grip handle 
  • an easy-to-clean, reusable aid
  • a comfortable and consistent tampon insertion experience

TINA accommodates the needs of people with all body types, disabilities, and physical conditions.

Injuries and chronic pain make insertion painful

If your mobility is limited, inserting a tampon may be difficult. For example, tampon insertion can be painful or impossible with a traditional tampon applicator if you have trouble bending your wrist or using your fingers to grip a tampon (4).

TINA can help alleviate this strain. Its ergonomic handle enables you to insert a tampon without flexing your wrist and minimizes the need to bend your fingers.

Periods can be challenging. Inserting your tampon shouldn’t be. Now that you’re armed with solutions, you can wear tampons comfortably and with confidence!

  1. Borowski, Ann. Are American women turning to reusable and greener menstrual products due to health and environmental pollution concerns? [Internet]. December 2011. [Cited 2022 August 10]. Accessed from: https://scholarworks.rit.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?referer=&httpsredir=1&article=1547&context=theses

  2. Why do tampons go sideways? Supported Moms. 23 May 2016. [cited 2022 August 10] Accessed from: https://supportedmums.com/why-do-tampons-go-sideways/

  3. Raj, Roshini. Pain From Tampon Insertion: What Can Cause It? Health. [Internet]. April 2016. [cited 2022 August 11] Accessed from: https://www.health.com/condition/menstruation/it-suddenly-hurts-to-put-in-tampons-what-could-be-wrong

  4. Latman NS. Relation of menstrual cycle phase to symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. The American Journal of Medicine 1983. [cited 2022 August 11]. Accessed from: https://doi.org/10.1016/0002-9343(83)90789-1

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