Are you having difficulty inserting a tampon for the first time? Have you had trouble putting a tampon in your vagina because it just doesn't seem to want to go in and/or it HURTS when you try? If you've had this experience, by now you're probably scared to try again because you feel stupid, are scared of the pain, or think you must be built funny down there and just can't use tampons. Join the club; there are legions of you out there and ALL of you CAN learn to use tampons comfortably. Use the guide below to learn about properly inserting a tampon.
Some girls have "extra" tissue that can interfere with inserting tampons. This is called a septate hymen; the "string" of tissue down the center is called a "strand." If you have a hymenal strand, it can make it difficult and painful to put in a tampon. But the strand is usually somewhat flexible and some girls manage to get a tampon past it on one side or the other. Then, there may be trouble getting it out. If this should happen to you, it may be best to see a medical professional rather than try to force the tampon out. Girls who have a strand and still force a tampon out tell us that they experienced a sharp pain and saw drops of bright red blood; they tore the strand.
This is not really terrible, but it can be frightening. In fact, it can be so frightening that, even though the strand is no longer a barrier, these girls often find they still have trouble inserting a tampon. How frustrating! What can the problem be now?
The problem now is, almost surely, that the girl's vaginal muscles are tensing up involuntarily and essentially closing off the opening to the vagina. The technical term for this is VAGINISMUS. When a girl is afraid that inserting something in her vagina will hurt, a signal goes to the muscles at the vaginal opening and makes those muscles contract. The girl doesn't know this is happening. She doesn't really feel anything. She only knows that she can't seem to get a tampon in.
Vaginismus is quite common in girls and young women. Having problems with a strand is not the only cause. Anything that makes a girl fearful about vaginal insertion can cause it. For example, having injured yourself anywhere "down there," having experienced painful medical procedures in the area, or simply believing that you are much too small for a tampon to fit inside can lead to vaginismus.
How can vaginismus be overcome? The bad news is that you can't usually talk yourself out of it. You might think you could will yourself to let those muscles relax, but they can be kind of stubborn. It's as if the muscles need convincing by experience. Some medical professionals know all about vaginismus and know how to help you but, sadly, too many aren't that well-informed. You will probably need to ask your mother or other adult for help in finding a doctor or other health-care practitioner who knows how to treat a girl who has trouble inserting tampons because of vaginismus. You will be given instructions in a step-wise approach that you will do at home. The treatment will teach your muscles to relax when you go to insert a tampon. Don't worry that the treatment will be painful. Quite the contrary; you will be told that you must NOT hurt yourself, since the idea is to teach you to feel assured there will be NO pain. The good news is that with a step-wise approach to treatment, vaginismus can be cured 99.9% of the time.
If you or your parents feel that you are not ready to try medical treatment, you can always use external menstrual protection until you are older. In the meantime, remember this rule of thumb; never allow any vaginal penetration or attempts at penetration that are painful. You want to end the association, in your mind, between penetration and pain and fear. Eventually you will become a pro at inserting tampons that you will wonder why it ever seemed difficult.