Health Health & Fitness

Tampons don’t have to be painful

Written by Louise

If you’re a bit ‘icked out’ by body stuff and talk of menstruation, and all that kind of thing, you may not want to read this post. But I know it’s a big deal for plenty of women – I discovered that when I finally managed to Google ‘why are tampons painful?’ and found a huge number of results – and it was a big deal to me until today, as I shall explain.

Until today, I’d never managed to successfully insert a tampon. I tried once, in my 20s (as I explain in my post, Discovering Asexuality), but my attempt only resulted in intense, burning pain and a lot of wasted tampons, so I gave up and stuck to using towels instead (pads, if you’re from the US). In my early 30s, I went on the depo, my periods stopped altogether, and that put an end to my need to use any kind of sanitary protection.

Until last month, when I foolishly let my depo go overdue and decided to ‘see what happened’.

I honestly did hope I was starting the menopause, and the initial heavy and erratic bleeding seemed to support that, but it’s been going on too long now, and I’m tired of it. Next week, once all the Spanish Christmas holidays are finished, I’ll be seeing my doctor to get my depo done. In the mean time, I went into town today and bought myself some tampons.

They’re the type with the plastic applicator, which is not at all environmentally friendly, but my research suggests they’re the best for novices because they’re naturally slippery, so they’re the easiest to insert. And I need to get to grips with tampons this time. I always get a bit of spotting around 4 to 6 weeks after my depo, and if I do actually manage to meet someone to do kinky stuff with, I’m not going to let my body cramp my style.

Most of the advice I read online – and I spent several hours on my research – said you need to be relaxed, it’s a good idea to use lube, and masturbating is likely to help the first few times. A few people also mentioned standing with one foot on the toilet while you insert the tampon, and I don’t know exactly why this works, but I can confirm that it does!

So, after I got back from shopping, I headed to the bathroom with my box of tampons, a jar of coconut oil, a hand mirror and my Hitachi (which hasn’t actually had much use since I tried it out on Christmas Day because I’ve been bleeding most of the time and I don’t want to get blood on it).

The advice I read warned that you can go through a whole box of tampons before you’re successful the first time – my box contained 40, which would surely be enough – and I was delighted when I only wasted four. The first one fell apart while I was trying to figure out how the applicator worked, 2 got too much blood on them during my failed attempts and I decided to start again with a clean one, and I messed up inserting the 4th one by not pushing the applicator in far enough.

At my 5th attempt, I was successful.

The trick – at least this is what worked for me – is to masturbate first until you’re nice and relaxed. Use plenty of lube. Then penetrate yourself with a finger that’s at least as thick as the applicator – I wasn’t scientific in my thickness measuring; I just held the applicator next to my hand and judged which finger looked about the same thickness by eye – until you can put the finger inside yourself comfortably. This was the trickiest part for me, and I had to really, really concentrate on relaxing to get comfortable. The put some lube on the tampon applicator and replace your finger with the applicator.

I found actually operating the applicator was fiddly, and if I hunched over to reach for it with my hands, the tampon felt uncomfortable as it went in. (That was how I wasted tampon number 4!) But as long as I kept my back fairly straight, I didn’t feel the tampon at all.

This is a really good diagram of what a tampon looks like inserted. As you can see there's absolutely no danger of pushing it in too far and injuring yourself because it sits sideways to the uterus.

This is a really good diagram of what a tampon looks like inserted. As you can see there’s absolutely no danger of pushing it in too far and injuring yourself because it sits sideways to the uterus.

I left it in for a couple of hours. I don’t think I could feel it, but I imagined I could. I imagined it felt odd and uncomfortable, and I wonder if this is what my mother has done on the times she’s worn tampons, and that’s why she told me towels are the better option. I was nervous about bleeding through it, though – I’d bought ‘regular’ size because I didn’t want to attempt anything too big, and I am bleeding quite heavily – so I didn’t want to risk leaving it for too long.

Removing it was actually more nerve-wracking than inserting it. It had expanded with the blood it had absorbed, and I had to pull quite hard on the string to get it past the muscles at the entrance to my vagina – it was uncomfortable pressing against the muscles, but not painful – and I was terrified the string would break off. There’s no way I could handle going to my doctor to explain I’ve got a tampon stuck inside me.

Absolutely no way!

So, I’ve reverted to towels for now because I’ve had enough stress for one day. But at least I know I can wear tampons now.  That’s one massive hurdle out of the way.

About the author


Animal lover, asexual, blogger, cyclist, daughter, dreamer, entrepreneur, expat, optimist, procrastinator, reader, realist, rescuer, runner, sister, writer ... Hate labels? Me too. Just read my blog.

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