By: Dr. Melisa Holmes, OB-GYN, & Founder, Girlology
This is one of the most common questions I hear from new tampon users! So let me just start with the good news: NOPE! A tampon CANNOT get lost in your body. Even though your vagina connects your outside parts with the “inside” of your body, there’s basically a dead end at the top of the vagina - it’s called your cervix, and there’s no way a tampon can go past that. The cervix is a barrier between the vagina and the uterus. Nothing can get above the cervix unless it’s liquid or microscopic in size!
If you have a lost or stuck tampon, it’s not really stuck, it’s just high in your vagina and it may be squished sideways, making it hard to reach. This is most common if you accidentally forgot to take out a tampon before inserting a new one, or if you had sex without remembering to remove your tampon first (it’s not a good idea to have sex with a tampon in!). There are still some things you can try that make it easier to find and get out. Keep reading!
First, wash your hands, then squat down, put your finger in your vagina and sweep it around in a circle. You’ll probably be able to feel the tampon, but getting it out can still be difficult. If you can’t sweep it out, insert two fingers and try to grasp it. If you squat and bear down (like you’re pooping), it can help bring the tampon closer to the vaginal opening and make it easier to remove. If you still can’t get it out or you just don’t feel comfortable with that, remember that you should not wear a tampon more than 8 hours, so you’ll need to get help from your ob-gyn or family doctor as soon as possible.
This is such a common worry, but as much as we worry about it, I have rarely if ever seen a string break when a tampon is being used normally. If you look closely at a Tampax tampon, you’ll see that the string is sewn all the way up the tampon. It’s not just attached at the end. That makes it super hard for it to pull off or break. You can feel confident that the string will not break if you’re using a tampon normally.
If your string is hidden, it’s also possible that you totally forget that there’s still a tampon somewhere up in there. Don’t let the thought of that make you panic. Mother Nature has her way of providing other reminders - like odors. A long lost tampon will begin to make itself known through a strong (horrible) odor that is clearly not normal. If that starts to happen, it’s time to dig around, find it and pull it out or get to your doctor for some help right away. Don’t be embarrassed. In the medical profession, we call it a retained tampon, and we all have been there and removed that - more than you would imagine!
That’s a more common scenario than a broken string. Sometimes, a tampon may seem “lost” because the string and the tampon get pushed higher into the vagina. When that happens, it’s simple to remove it, and you can probably do it yourself. To get it out, just wash your hands, squat down, put your finger in your vagina, and you’ll probably be able to feel it and pull it out. If you can’t feel it, can’t reach it, or just don’t feel comfortable with that, see your doctor as soon as you can. And don’t be embarrassed, we do things like that more than you’d imagine!
A lost tampon is not usually an emergency, but it should be taken care of as quickly as possible. If you feel fine, but suspect a lost tampon and can’t remove it yourself, call your OB-GYN doctor’s office first. Often they will see you right away or they’ll direct you to an urgent care center. You’ll want to get it removed as soon as possible. However, if you suspect a retained tampon and you develop any of the signs or symptoms of TSS, you should go directly to the nearest emergency room and let them know you may have a stuck tampon and you’re worried about TSS.