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5 Reasons Why Your Tampon May Hurt

February 3 2022 | Written by Nadia Ladak (She/Her)

If you’re anything like me, your first time using tampons went a little something like this: you tore open your box of tampons your parents got you, unfolded the instructions pamphlet, and began to read. As you scanned through the complex & unclear diagrams, and the advice to “just breathe”, you felt the panic seeping in. Is this thing seriously supposed to go inside me? Is it going to hurt? Will it be uncomfortable? What if it gets stuck?! You ripped open the tampon wrapper and got into an awkward squat, repositioning as you tried to insert the tampon. You likely struggled a few times before finally getting it in, only to realize that when you began to walk around, it still felt super uncomfortable. That didn’t feel great, and hold on, did that go all the way in?

If this sounds like you, don’t worry - you're not alone. We surveyed our community and discovered that 86% of respondents have also experienced discomfort when inserting tampons. But it shouldn’t be this way - you deserve to be able to comfortably use tampons. Of course, everyone’s body and experiences are different, and some may feel a tampon more than others, but the goal should be to make tampons as comfortable as possible for your body.

Whether you’re new to using tampons, you have a pelvic floor condition, or you experience vaginal dryness, there are many reasons why using a tampon could be uncomfortable, if not painful. In today’s blog, we’re diving into why your tampon may hurt and what you can do to create a smoother insertion process. 

Reason #1: You’re New to Using Tampons

If you’ve just started using tampons, you may be nervous or  anxious to insert them. In some cases, this may cause your muscles to tense up as you start to insert. If you’re new to inserting tampons, you may also be prone to inserting tampons incorrectly while you’re still figuring them out. 

Some general tips when first inserting a tampon:

  • Anxiety can cause your muscles to tense up. Practice taking deep breaths, in and out, and slowly push the tampon further as you breathe out. You can also coat your tampon in lubricant to reduce friction as you insert it.
  • When first inserting a tampon, you may have an inclination to insert it pointing straight up. Instead, insert it pointing to your lower back - this angle should feel more comfortable.
  • If you successfully put in a tampon but feel discomfort after walking around a bit, you may not have inserted the tampon deep enough. When your fingers are on the grip of the applicator, they should come into contact with your skin before you push the tampon out of the applicator. If you think your tampon may not be deep enough, pull it out, and try it again with a new tampon. 

For a comprehensive guide on how to insert a tampon, check out our other blog, The Ultimate Step-by-Step Guide on How to Insert a Tampon

Reason #2: You have Vaginal Dryness

Not all of us have a WAP as great as Cardi B’s; some of us may experience higher levels of vaginal dryness. In fact, 1 in 6 people experience vaginal dryness even before menopause. Vaginal dryness could be due to hormonal changes post pregnancy or post chemotherapy treatments, or a result of the type of birth control that you’re using. For more reasons on why you may be experiencing vaginal dryness, you can check out our blog: WAP Part 2: Causes of Vaginal Dryness. When you experience vaginal dryness, this can cause friction and discomfort when inserting a tampon. 

Reason #3: You have a Light Flow

Your blood acts as a natural lubricant when inserting a tampon. However, if you have a light flow, especially towards the beginning or end of your cycle, you may not have enough natural lubrication which can cause pain or discomfort when inserting a tampon. If you have a light flow, it’s best to try to stick to the lightest absorbency available that will suit your flow. 

Reason #4: The Tampon Itself

If inserting a tampon is uncomfortable, it may be due to the tampon itself. If you experience uncomfortable friction upon inserting and removing your tampon, you may be using too high of an absorbency for your flow. You can try going down an absorbency level and seeing if that helps with insertion. If you experience skin sensitivity when using tampons, this may be a result of fragrance, dyes, or synthetic materials in your tampon.  Always try to purchase tampons with transparent ingredient lists, and if you are experiencing any irritation, try out 100% organic cotton tampons and see if those work for you. If any irritation persists, it’s best to see a doctor.

Reason #5: You have a Pelvic Floor Condition 

Several medical conditions can lead to create pain when inserting a tampon. These conditions can cause your pelvic floor muscles to tense up,  create higher levels of vaginal dryness, or increase your skin sensitivity. Some conditions may include:

  • Vaginismus
  • Pelvic organ prolapse
  • Endometriosis 

If you believe you may have one of these conditions, it is best to speak to a medical professional who can help assess your situation. To read more about these conditions and the symptoms that may present, check out our blog: 

If you are in active treatment for vaginismus and are ready to try using tampons again, using lubricant may help with the process.

What should I do?

So now that you’ve explored some reasons why your tampon may be causing you discomfort, you’re probably wondering what you can do to ease this pain. We were wondering the same thing, and that’s what inspired us to create Marlow.

First of all, make sure you’re inserting the tampon correctly - check out our blog here to learn more.

Secondly, if you are experiencing any severe or intense pain, or it feels like there is a blockage, see a medical professional.

However, if you’re inserting your tampon correctly, and are simply looking for a way to insert your tampon more comfortably, you can try using our lubricant!

Try Using Lubricant!

At Marlow, we’ve created the first-ever lubricant designed to be used with tampons. Our lubricant is water-based and is free of fragrance, parabens, and alcohol. It is also glycerin free and pH balanced. We’ve designed the bottle to perfectly coat your tampon in one easy, mess-free dip for smoother insertion. Plus, if you’ve got extra left over, you can also use the lubricant for sexual intercourse.

Our tampons are 100% GOTS certified organic cotton, dermatologist tested, and free of fragrance, dyes, synthetic fibres, and chlorine bleaching. The 100% organic tampons can be a great option for those with sensitive skin. We offer light tampons for those with a lighter flow or a combination pack for those who have a flow that varies throughout your cycle (as well as regular and super tampons). 

Why not buy another lubricant?

You may be wondering, why wouldn’t I just buy a regular lubricant from the drug store? At Marlow, we’ve tested our tampons and lubricants together for safety and they have been approved by Health Canada. We’ve also designed the bottle to make it easy to apply the lubricant to the applicator as opposed to the traditional squeeze tubes from the drug store, which results in a messy process. We didn’t want to be doing arts and crafts in the bathroom stall!

Why not just use a pad?

If using a tampon is painful, you can opt to use a pad and that is completely okay!  However, a pad may not fit everybody’s lifestyle needs. Some may find them uncomfortable to wear when on the go or exercising, some may find them limiting when wearing certain types of clothing, and some activities, such as swimming, are simply not compatible with pads. It is important to choose the product that best suits your needs & lifestyle whether that be a pad, tampon, menstrual cup,  period underwear, or any combination of these!

Wrap-Up

Today we explored 5 reasons why your tampon may hurt and the potential ways that you can create a smoother insertion experience. Remember that if you are experiencing severe pain when inserting a tampon, you should contact your healthcare provider to explore other alternatives.  

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