The Scoop on Tampons
Hello friends! Did you know that tampons have more than one use? They can be used for a variety of things, including pelvic floor problens. While tampons have many uses, they can also be problematic to use for some individuals. This week we’ll give you the scoop on everything you need to know about tampons.
Disclaimer: When using a tampon, it’s important to follow the manufacturer’s guidelines to avoid side effects of tampons like toxic shock syndrome (TSS).
So, let’s start by talking about the different uses for tampons. You probably already know that they are used during menstruation (or your period). Tampons can be a great alternative to pads, especially when wanting to participate in water sports and activities. Tampons can give you some freedom that pads don’t, if you are comfortable using them.
In addition to menstruation, tampons can be uses as an inexpensive and temporary pessary to help with pelvic organ prolapse. Inserting a tampon acts as an internal support to the vaginal walls which can alleviate prolapse symptoms, like heaviness and bulging.
Using a tampon can help with stress incontinence (urine leakage with exercise and activity). It helps to keep the vaginal walls from collapsing and support the muscles and surrounding tissues to keep the urethra (where pee exits) closed.
Even though tampons have many uses, many individuals have trouble with inserting a tampon. There are so many different reasons, they might be:
Your pelvic floor muscles are unable to relax to allow for insertion and this is often accompanied by pain. Seeing a pelvic floor physical therapist can be a great resource to help with pelvic pain. You can also register for the Women’s DIY Pelvic Pain Relief Programwith Dr. Susie Gronski, DPT, PRPC, WCS. Pain with insertion may also be cause by vulvar irritation.
Even though internal supports can help with pelvic organ prolapse symptoms, the prolapsed tissue can actually get in the way and make it difficult to insert. If you have this problem, try to adjust the angle that you are trying to insert with. This video with Jeanice shows you how.
If you are unfamiliar with your anatomy, it can make tampon inserting challenging. Be sure to explore your anatomy. The vagina naturally angles back, so you should insert the tampon at that angle. You may also need to spread your labia (or the lips of your vagina) apart to allow the tampon and applicator to go inside the vagina.
Similarly, if you aren’t familiar with the way a tampon and applicator work, it can be difficult. Try practicing with the applicator before inserting. You can practice using the applicator in something tube-shaped like an empty toilet paper roll.
Tampons can be a great tool if used properly. If you continue to have difficulty or pain with use, try seeing a pelvic floor specialist to help.
To learn more about the pelvic floor check out these resources below:
Ask your healthcare provider for a referral to a pelvic therapist.
Find a pelvic therapist on your own at myPFM.com. We have links to 4 free searchable databases under Find a PT.
Learn more about the pelvic floor muscles with our book: My Pelvic Floor Muscles The Basics
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What experiences or tips do you have that can help others? We’d love to hear them. Please join the conversation in the comments section below.
Written by Emily Reul, PT, DPT