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Why can it be difficult to insert a tampon?

If you’ve ever had difficulty inserting or using tampons, you're not alone. A survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that 62% of women wear pads, but only 42% use tampons (1). Of the 58% that don’t use tampons, over half (54%) said they find tampons uncomfortable. When a tampon is inserted correctly, it shouldn’t feel uncomfortable. However, the insertion process itself can be uncomfortable or even painful.

Here are 5 reasons inserting a tampon might be challenging (and, of course, the solutions for every issue!)

1. You’re new to tampons

Insertion can be confusing if you’ve just started your first period or recently switched from pads to tampons. Some learn how to insert a tampon through the instructions on the box, but the fine print and complicated diagrams can look like a foreign language. Others get a tampon tutorial through a family member, but that conversation can be more awkward than you’re willing to experience. So what should you do if you’re new to tampons? 

First, don’t toss your tampons’ instructions aside. Comb through the instructions for the insertion steps and how your applicator works, as different brands have slightly different applicators. If you’re a visual learner, there are many video tutorials online. Thankfully, inserting a tampon just takes practice and you’ll be a pro in no time!

2. You are inserting at the wrong angle or depth

When a tampon is inserted correctly, it should feel so comfortable you don’t even know it’s there. If you’re experiencing any discomfort, you may be inserting your tampon incorrectly. Inserting your tampon at the wrong angle may knock into your vaginal wall, and you’ll feel as if something is blocking your tampon (2). Avoid inserting your tampon sideways by checking the orientation of your applicator, and keeping it perpendicular to your pelvis.

If you feel discomfort after inserting your tampon, you may need to insert it deeper. Use clean hands to push the tampon further up with your finger manually, or remove your tampon and start fresh with a new applicator. Ensure the wider part of your applicator is inserted all the way, as this will help achieve the correct depth. Take care not to insert the tampon deeper than necessary to avoid knocking your cervix (2).

3. You’re experiencing vaginal dryness

Inserting your tampon shouldn’t feel like you’re trying to push an apple through a straw. Ideally, your tampon should slip right into place without too much effort. If you feel any pain or discomfort while inserting or removing your tampon, one possible reason is that you may be experiencing vaginal dryness.

One cause of dryness is that your flow may be very light, in which case you should consider switching your tampon to those created for lighter flows. Dryness is also common after childbirth or when estrogen levels are low, such as during breastfeeding or perimenopause (3). You can relieve vaginal dryness by using a lubricant, which will help your applicator and tampon slip right in.

4. You can’t quite reach down there to insert tampons properly

You may have trouble reaching your pelvis to insert a tampon due to body type, injuries, or chronic pain from conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis. Unfortunately, the traditional tampon applicator is not designed to accommodate the needs of people with all body types, disabilities, and physical conditions.

So why not just switch to pads? You certainly can, though many people prefer tampons because they suit the person’s lifestyle and preferences. If you’re set on using tampons, try using a tampon insertion aid to get the reach you need. Tina Healthcare’s tampon insertion aid gives you 4 inches of extra reach and an easy-to-grip handle to make tampon insertion a breeze.

5. Injuries and chronic pain make insertion painful

Similar to struggling with reach, injuries, physical disabilities, arthritis, and other chronic pain conditions can also limit your mobility. Having limited mobility makes tampon insertion painful and even impossible with the traditional tampon applicator. Inserting a tampon with the typical applicator requires you to bend your wrist, fingers, and use a pinch-grip. If you have rheumatoid arthritis, for example, these motions cause shooting pains down your wrist and hands (4).

A tampon insertion aid, such as TINA, can help alleviate this strain. TINA’s ergonomic handle enables you to insert a tampon without flexing your wrist and minimizes the need to bend your fingers and wrist overall. So, you can finally insert your tampon painlessly with ease.

Periods can be challenging for everyone, but inserting your tampon shouldn’t be part of the problem. Now that you’re armed with solutions, you can wear tampons with comfort and confidence!


Sources:

  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]. Available 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]. Available from  https://doi.org/10.1016/0002-9343(83)90789-1

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