A Step-by-Step Guide to Safely Remove a Tampon


You go to remove your tampon, but the string breaks. You try to dig around to find it, but you can’t. Uh oh, you think I have a tampon stuck inside me? Don’t panic! This situation is more common than you might think. Around 1 in 5 menstruating individuals will eventually experience a stuck or lost tampon. It’s annoying and uncomfortable, but there are ways to get it out safely. This guide will walk you through what to do step-by-step.

Empowering Solutions When Your Tampon Decides to Play Hide and Seek!

First Things First: Don’t Panic

Take some deep breaths. Getting anxious will only make this worse. A tampon stuck is not an emergency. You have time to assess the situation calmly and take action. Avoid stressing about it. What’s done is done; now, focus on moving forward.

Next, think back – when did you insert this tampon? Check the time on your phone if you need an exact timestamp. Knowing how long it has been in there will determine the next steps. If it has been less than 8 hours, you may be able to remove it yourself. If it has been longer than this, it’s best to seek professional help.

DIY Removal if Less Than 8 Hours

If you just put the tampon in a few hours ago, the muscles in your vaginal canal likely have not relaxed enough to suck it upward. It’s probably just sitting right inside the opening. In this case, you may be able to gently pull it out.

Start by washing your hands thoroughly. Get into a comfortable position, either sitting on the toilet or squatting. Relax your pelvic muscles as much as possible. Gently tug on the tampon string. Don’t force it if you meet a lot of resistance.

You can try bearing down, changing positions, and doing Kegel exercises to open up the muscles. Use a finger to try to locate the bottom of the tampon. See if you can get a grip on it and slide it out.

Take your time with this process. Go slowly and cautiously. If you make absolutely no progress after 15 minutes, it’s time to call your gynecologist or head to an urgent care clinic. But there’s a good chance you can pull it out yourself if it’s been in for less than 8 hours.

When to Seek Medical Care

If the tampon stuck has been inserted for over 8 hours, do not attempt removal on your own. You should seek professional medical assistance. After 8 hours, your vaginal muscles relax, and the tampon can get lodged up by your cervix. This also increases your risk of toxic shock syndrome.

Contact your gynecologist’s office and explain the situation. They may want to see you right away if it’s after hours, head to an urgent care clinic or hospital emergency room. They have the tools to safely extract stuck tampons.

At the Doctor’s Office

Don’t feel embarrassed about seeking help to remove your tampon. Doctors deal with this all the time. They will handle it professionally and without judgment. Here’s what you can expect:

They’ll ask some questions about when the tampon was inserted and what attempts you made to remove it. Answer honestly to get the best care.
You’ll likely get a pelvic exam. They’ll use a speculum to look for the tampon strings.
If needed, they can use ring forceps to grasp the tampon and pull it out. This only takes a few minutes.
You may be given antibiotics as a precaution against infection.
After removal, avoid using tampons for at least your next period. Give your body time to rest and heal internally.
Call promptly if you develop any symptoms like fever, chills, or foul-smelling discharge, as these could indicate infection.

What Causes Tampons to Get Stuck?

There are a few common reasons a tampon may get lodged inside the vaginal canal:

Forgetting to remove it – Busy schedules can make it easy to lose track of time.
String breaking – The string can snap off when you pull, making the tampon hard to grasp.
Inserting at an odd angle – The tampon may not have made it all the way into the canal.
Very relaxed muscles – Sometimes, the vaginal walls grip the tampon less tightly.
Using too absorbent a size – The bigger and more swollen the tampon, the more likely it is to get stuck.

You can reduce your risk by setting reminders to change it, using the lowest absorbency possible, and inserting it carefully. But even if you do everything right, it can still happen occasionally. Don’t beat yourself up.

When in doubt, call your doctor and get checked out. Leaving a tampon in too long raises your chances of toxic shock syndrome–  a rare but dangerous infection. It’s not worth the risk. Get medical help promptly to remove it as soon as possible.

The Takeaway

Dealing with a lost or stuck tampon can be unnerving. But there are solutions. Try to remove it yourself if it’s been in less than 8 hours. If it’s been longer or you make no progress, see a doctor right away. They can easily take it out in minutes in the office. Once it’s out, give your body a break from tampons for a bit. Know that this happens somewhat commonly, but the issue can be resolved. Stay calm, take action, and get back to your routine!


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