A commonly frantic concern of tampon users is “I can’t remember if I took my tampon out.” So, no, you are not alone and there is no reason to be embarrassed. Surprisingly, many tampon users, not just beginners, go through the trouble of “lost tampon, can’t feel” situations. If you are in such a situation, stay calm because we can help you remove it. Read on to find out how to safely remove a stuck tampon on your own and when to ask for medical assistance.
Lost Tampons: A Common Occurrence Amongst Users
Anyone who menstruates fears losing tampons inside their body ever since hitting puberty. Some opt for pads because of this fear alone because you do not have to put a foreign object inside your vagina when using pads. As a menstrual cup user myself, I used to often wonder how I would bring myself to put a cup inside me, regardless of how small or big it looked. I overcame my fear after years of fearing the cup getting lost inside me and months of trials.
But a tampon is no cup. It is too soft to touch and even after you find the right size tampon for you, if you cannot find it inside, your heart would drop to your stomach in fear. No doubt about that. Would knowing that it is a common occurrence bring some relief? Maybe. Would knowing that it is impossible for a tampon to get lost inside you bring some relief? It should. To know why your “I can’t remember if I took my tampon out concern” is not exactly concerning, you need only know the basic anatomy of your body.
Can A Tampon Get Lost Inside You?
The simple answer is no. Sure, it can get squished into a flat mess or lodged in a corner but definitely not lost.
Though tampons are pretty convenient to use, they can give you some trouble if you are not careful. For instance, you got drunk and forgot to take it out. It happens. Perhaps you forgot you had one in and inserted a second one without removing the first. Not a big deal. Maybe you had sex and didn’t remember or think to remove your tampon first. No one blames you. Or the tampon string broke. Again, no room to point fingers. It is easy to get freaked out and start panicking in either of these troublesome situations.
All you need to do is calm down. Albeit easier said than done, you can take out the tampon only once your body stays calm and relaxed. First of all, the vagina is not some huge, empty hole that if something gets stuck inside is never to be found again. In fact, the vagina is only 3 or 4 inches deep and ends at the cervix —bottom of the uterus. Basically, it is a dead end!
So, rest assured any foreign body simply cannot get far because it has nowhere to go! It simply has to stay in your vaginal canal as the cervical opening is too small for a tampon to slip through. Unless the foreign body is microscopic in size or a liquid substance, you don’t need to worry.
The Short Answer
So, should I worry if I can’t remember if I took my tampon out? The short answer is No, you can’t lose a tampon inside you. You may not feel it as it may be out of reach and hard to locate. Though you cannot lose a tampon, you may have a stuck tampon inside. Let’s talk about stuck tampons, can you feel a tampon inside you, among other doubts?
Can you feel a lost tampon inside you?
Since both the tampon and vaginal canal are elastic, the possibility of forgetting it inside is common. I can’t remember if I took my tampon could be right. A retained tampon is likely compressed at the top of your vagina or squashed sideways with the strings drawn in. This can make it difficult for you to feel the lost tampon. It just may be out of reach.
What if the tampon string breaks?
Tampons are a little less than two inches long. Once inserted, you can easily remove it by pulling the string attached to one end. In some cases of stuck tampons, you may not be able to reach the string. However, in some rarest of rare cases, the tampon string may break. This calls for medical assistance as it may be even more difficult to remove.
Will a stuck tampon come out by itself?
No, it is highly unlikely. A stuck tampon will stay on top of your vagina until you remove it. So, act quickly and try to remove it as soon as possible.
Can you push a tampon out like a baby?
Not exactly. However, pushing down a tampon may feel like pushing out a baby or having a bowel movement to be exact.
Would my partner feel a lost tampon?
Your partner is supposed to feel a tampon inside when having sex. Moreover, having sex with a tampon inside could be uncomfortable for both of you but of course more discomfort and pain for you. Your body naturally produces lubrication while having intercourse. With a tampon stuck inside, it only absorbs the lubrication making it uncomfortable for you.
All of the above questions are oftentimes asked while dealing with a stuck tampon. A retained or stuck tampon is not any danger to your vagina or cervix, according to gynecologists. Unfortunately, it may cause an infection called Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS)(2). Hence, you need to know the signs of a stuck tampon to be aware.
Signs Of A Retained Tampon
The vaginal walls hold a tampon in place. However, it cannot roam and drift to your abdomen or belly because it cannot move outside of your vaginal canal, which is a contained space. Although common, a retained tampon is not exactly good in any way. If you are going through an ‘I can’t remember if I took my tampon out’ situation, look out for the following signs of a retained or stuck tampon:
- Yellow, green, grey, brown, or pink vaginal discharge
- Vaginal discharge that smells unpleasant
- Foul odor from your vagina without discharge
- Itching inside your vagina or on your vulva
- Pain or discomfort while passing urine
- Swelling of the vaginal area
- Redness or rash around the genital area
- Abdominal or pelvic pain
- A high temperature —fever of 104°F (40°C) or higher
This is how to tell if a tampon is still in. When a tampon has been left in for too long, these are the signs your body will usually give you. You are looking at an obvious infection caused by the tampon. If you experience any of these signs, contact your health provider immediately.
How To Remove A Stuck Tampon On Your Own?
If you are sure that you don’t have an infection, meaning none of the listed signs of a retained tampon, you can try removing it yourself. Most importantly, you need to act fast to avoid risking your health. Meaning, you should take care of the problem right away.
The first way of removing a stuck tampon on your own is by bearing down like you would for a bowel movement. This helps the walls of your vagina to contract and may push the tampon closer to the opening where you can find its string to pull out. If that doesn’t happen, follow these steps to safely remove a stuck tampon (2) with your clean fingers:
Relax your muscles
Being tense will only make things worse for you. The tensed and clenched muscles of your vagina will hold the stuck tampon in place, making it harder to remove. Freaking out is totally okay, nobody likes a stuck tampon. After your panic session, take a warm shower or bath to help relax. You can try some breathing exercises as well.
Clip your nails
To remove a stuck tampon, you need to insert your fingers inside your vagina. For this, you need to trim your nails to make the process as painless as possible. You also don’t want to risk cutting the insides of your vagina with jagged or long, sharp nails.
Clean your hands
To prevent introducing germs into your vaginal cavity and getting an infection, clean your hands. Use a mild soap and water to thoroughly wash your hands clean. In addition, if your fingers have any open cuts or scabs, cover them up with a bandage.
Sit, squat, or lie down
In an “I can’t remember if I took my tampon out” situation, the easier way to remove the stuck tampon is by sitting, squatting, or lying down. After you try bearing down to dislodge the tampon, try sitting on the toilet with your knees a little more than hip-width apart. Or, you can squat down without sitting on the ground. You can also try standing with one leg popped on the toilet seat, bathtub, or trashcan. If you prefer to lie down, lie flat on your bed with your knees bent.
Tug on the string
If you can see the string and not stuck on your body, lightly pull on the string while squatting. There should be at least an inch of string coming out of your vaginal opening. If it doesn’t come out by pulling the string, try the next step.
Insert a finger or two
While exhaling, insert your middle finger (or index and thumb) into your vagina as far as possible. Then, sweep around with circular motions between the cervix and vagina to locate the tampon. Try to feel the area at the top of the vagina. Bearing down also helps in this step to find the stuck tampon.
Pull out the tampon
If you can find the tampon, grasp it between your fingers and gently pull it out. Catch the tampon’s cotton cylinder instead of only the string.
If you cannot find the tampon even after 10 minutes, don’t just dig around for it. Call your doctor without waiting around. Especially if you think there might still be some pieces in your vagina.
Tips for removing tampons:
- Try lubricant
- Use only fingers, not any other foreign object
- Change positions as needed
- Use a mirror
Should You Be Concerned?
An overstayed tampon may not cause any serious health issues. The FDA recommends no more than 8 hours for a tampon inside. One of the biggest risks could be vaginitis, an inflammation of the vagina which can be caused by a number of reasons including bacteria that clutch onto the tampon.
Another risk, a much more severe one, is TSS. This potentially deadly condition is triggered by Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) bacteria on the tampon that emit toxins, according to the National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD). Although treatable, it could be fatal. However, TSS is pretty unlikely even if a tampon is left inside for a longer period of time, according to experts.
When Should You Go To A Doctor?
Yes, a stuck tampon is not an emergency. But you should always know when it is time to get medical assistance. If you cannot remove it yourself safely, call your OB-GYN right away. You will want it removed immediately to prevent further health issues. If you have any signs of retained tampon, you need to be promptly checked as you might need treatment for the infection. In some rare cases, pieces of tampon might still be in your vagina. This also calls for medical assistance.
In the worst-case scenario, if you suspect you have TSS, go to the nearest emergency room and let them know your “I can’t remember if I took my tampon out” situation. In any case, they will easily and safely remove the stuck tampon using their finger or a small clamp. Always keep in mind that the healthcare staff have seen many such cases. They are there to help you, not judge.
Your body will send you obvious signs and the first sign could be the foul odor from your vagina.
Tampons may become slippery when they absorb too much blood. You may feel like it is falling out or it may even slip out of place. This is a hint for you to change your tampon.
Yes, of course.
“I can’t remember if I took my tampon out” is definitely not the end of the world. But you need it out as soon as possible. Without feeling embarrassed, try removing it yourself or get medical assistance to prevent further health complications.