Tampons for Dummies
June 19, 2012 3:58 PM   Subscribe

Please educate me in proper tampon insertion. Seriously.

I've read the instruction booklets in the boxes, tried relaxing, plastic applicators instead of cardboard and putting one foot on the toilet, but I still can't do it. I'm so embarrassed that I have to even ask this question but I can't figure it out. I've gotten the tampon in about 75% but even when its partially in, it feels really uncomfortable and I know you're not supposed to even feel the tampon inside you.

I'm worried that maybe my period is too light for tampons? (I'm on the pill for non-sex related reasons, I'm still a virgin) I'm usually fine just wearing a liner, and not even a pad. But I really want to use tampons. There are activities (like swimming) that I have had to miss because I couldn't get a tampon in. I also hate the gross "diaper"-like feeling and having a liner/pad in my underwear. I've tried over two dozen times over the years and have used Playtex Gentle Glide and Sport and Tampax Pearl regular.

If a baby can technically pass through the same area, why can't a little tampon fit?! What am I missing here? Obviously I am a fool who needs some useful non-'relax and lift up your leg' advice, yesterday. Reassurance that I will still technically be able to have sex without tremendous difficulty when I am ready is also helpful. How can I be in my 20s and still be unable to insert a tampon?
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (45 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
It sounds like it might be getting blocked by your hymen. And yeah, a partially inserted tampon is a really uncomfortable thing, it has to be all the way up there for most people not to feel it. Can you put your fingers all the way inside your vagina? Can you try with the smallest possible tampon, maybe one that doesn't have an applicator at all?
posted by cairdeas at 4:03 PM on June 19, 2012

Have you tried using a small amount of personal lubricant to reduce the friction when inserting? I recall feeling the same way about tampons when I stared using them, pre-sexual activity. I feel also that the "I can feel it" feeling goes away after you give it a few minutes, maybe walk around a bit.

BTW, when a baby passes through their your body does a ton of work to open up and make it fit!
posted by handful of rain at 4:04 PM on June 19, 2012

If your period is that light that you don't even need a pad, it may be too light for tampons - I can't wear one when I'm only spotting because it's too dry and uncomfortable. If it's too dry, it's hard to insert and it's hard to keep in because it's a little painful.

Have you tried "teen" or "junior"-sized tampons? They are smaller. Have you tried OB tampons? Since they don't have an applicator they are also smaller, but you'll have to use your finger to put them in (which might actually be easier for you, but is a bit of a learning curve for many).
posted by flex at 4:05 PM on June 19, 2012 [8 favorites]

I wasn't able to properly insert a tampon correctly until age 26 (I'm a bit of a Nervous Nelly about such matters) so don't worry about the age factor! The "lift your leg up" thing never actually worked for me and I still don't insert them that way (should I be answering this question non-anonymously?), the only thing that worked for my was through brute practice.

I realize that doesn't help you with your problem asap, but I bet these guys can give you a detailed guide. Ask them anything!
posted by french films about trains at 4:06 PM on June 19, 2012

Here is what I would try:

1) Use a Playtex Slender Light. Take the top applicator section and add lube. (Vaseline will be fine in a pinch. Not for sex, but for this it's fine.)

2) Sit on the toilet with your legs open and relaxed.

3) Insert the tampon, aiming for the small of your back.

If you are unable to make this work, I would pop down to your GP or OBGYN. A pelvic will reassure you that everything is in order and you can comfortably deal with a speculum, which will bode well for the future.
posted by DarlingBri at 4:11 PM on June 19, 2012

Have you asked your gynecologist about this? It's not uncommon to have a slightly tilted cervix which can make insertion of...many things difficult unless you know how to hit the right angle. I'd second trying any tampons marked "slender" or OB's which are super short. Also have you tried laying down flat on your back?
posted by last night a dj saved my life at 4:11 PM on June 19, 2012 [2 favorites]

Seconding using lube (KY Jelly is fine for this). But pads may be more convenient for you.
posted by Sidhedevil at 4:13 PM on June 19, 2012

Can you try putting it in in a squatting position? I've *ahem* heard it can help.
posted by MadamM at 4:17 PM on June 19, 2012

I have the same kind of period as you. I recommend OB regular silk touch--they go in much easier. If you insert far enough up you won't feel any pain even with a super light flow (though removal might be a smidge uncomfortable). And even though it sounds counterintuitive to some extent, it really is far easier to control the position using your finger.
posted by Go Banana at 4:17 PM on June 19, 2012

Tampons aren't for everyone. I never once was ever comfortable with them, and I've had two children pass through there (preemies, but still bigger than tampons). I started using a divacup a few years ago and I love it (they have them in pre-baby and post-baby sizes). I think the silicone of the divacup just doesn't have the same friction-y drying-out unpleasant absorbency that tampon material has, so once I insert it I don't even know it's there. That said, I actually squat to insert it, as things just aren't situated right with the one-leg-up on the toilet seat stance.
posted by headnsouth at 4:17 PM on June 19, 2012 [2 favorites]

First of all, don't worry. It will happen. Don't do the one-foot-up thing. Lie on the bathroom floor (on a rug or towel) and bring your knees to your chest and go a little wide. Do a little lubing with saliva or a dab of KY. Push the tip towards the small of your back, all the way. I hope that does it!
posted by thinkpiece at 4:18 PM on June 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

Something that can be happening with the situation you describe (incomplete insertion) is that women sometimes pull back on the applicator as they push in the plunger (involuntarily) because the rougher tampon is irritating as it emerges. If you're getting it 75% of the way in, you are just fine anatomically, I promise. Also, don't worry about your hymen, either--it is actually right at the entrance of the vagina and so, again, 75% insertion takes care of that issue.

Take apart the tampon applicator and lube the heck out of the tampon itself, then put the tampon back in the applicator, and put some lube on the outside of that. Sit for a few minutes on the toilet, reading or talking to a friend on the phone, so the posterior wall of your vagina and pelvic floor relaxes a little. Insert while sitting on the toilet, aiming the end of the applicator towards that imagined back wall until the fingers holding the grip part of the applicator are touching the entrance to your vagina. Then, keep slowly pushing the applicator up while you push in the plunger, snugging those fingers against your vaginal opening tight.

You won't always have to use lube on the tampon itself, this is just to make it really easy to get your first tampon in correctly, and after that, you'll know what it feels like and be able to ditch the lube. Plus, this lets you painlessly practice a few times in a row.

Also, folks telling you to try different angles on the tampon are on right on--but lubing the tampon itself (as well as applicator) and preventing hesitation that pulls back on the applicator at the last minute really help, too.

FYI--I've coached lots of girls and young women through this as part of my work and this trouble isn't predictive of your response to penetrative sex. Like with this--go slow, be ready, lots of lube.
posted by rumposinc at 4:18 PM on June 19, 2012 [4 favorites]

First, get the smallest tampons, the "teen" ones. I personally think a plastic applicator is better than cardboard (ouch) or none, because if you get it in all the way it will be in the right place. Getting the "distance" part right with your fingers isn't as easy. I used to have trouble with getting them in all the way in my early teens, what solved it was figuring out the proper angle. DarlingBri and thinkpiece are right about pointing it towards your lower back. I find this easiest to do standing, just bending/arching over slightly, but YMMV.

That said, you might have some other thing going on that a gynecologist could probably easily tell you. I know women who can't wear tampons at all, they're just naturally shaped in a way that's not suited for them, or something. I don't know details, obviously, but you're not alone if they never end up being comfortable.
posted by ocksay_uppetpay at 4:24 PM on June 19, 2012

You might do better with OB or similar non-applicator tampons. I do, and I have a tippy cervix. The downside for that is that I don't think they come in slim anymore.
posted by Sidhedevil at 4:31 PM on June 19, 2012

Yeah -- the leg up thing isn't for me. I usually stand and bend my knees a bit. And I feel better using ob without an applicator. (if I use tampons at all. I use them less and less)

You know, there's only one drawing in the packaging, but women are incredibly varied. One of my doctors said they took a whole 3 hour class in med school to show slides of women's vaginas so that the students would understand just how much variation there is.
posted by vitabellosi at 4:31 PM on June 19, 2012

Everyone has different ways of doing it because everyone's built just that much differently - the length of your arms will affect the angle of your fingers which will affect the positioning of the tampon, etc etc. It's not just the organs in question that vary. And it takes practice - you build up muscle memory for that, just like anything else, before you can do it easily. You'll know when it's in correctly because you won't feel it. You'll probably be aware of, okay, there's a tampon up in there, but it won't be bothersome, or shift when you move, or anything like that.

I agree with rumposinc -- lube up a tampon, put it in an applicator, and then try it a couple of times when you're not bleeding, so that you can take your time and focus on positioning and insertion. Some people put a foot or two up, some sit down, some have to be standing; everyone has their Awkward Tampon Pose perfected, eventually.

Two other string-related bits: before any insertion happens, give the string a good tug to be sure it's properly attached. And once you have things installed, roll the string into a little ball and tuck it up so that it's kept up in the vaginal canal, by the end of the tampon.
posted by cmyk at 4:33 PM on June 19, 2012

(Just out of curiosity, has the "one leg up on the toilet seat" method worked for anyone? Because those instructions have been part of the Tampax leaflet since at least 1980, and I assume much earlier, and I assume have been entirely useless for generations of women.
posted by DarlingBri at 4:34 PM on June 19, 2012 [7 favorites]

I feel your pain, it can suck to wear pads.

Have you ever tried touching yourself before you try to insert it? When you masturbate (and get aroused), the hole gets... bigger. It's easier to insert stuff up there when it's enlarged and lubricated from being aroused.

When I first got the diva cup, I couldn't get it in for the first two years. I think I wasn't sexually mature yet-- and I think you have to be in order to feel comfortable sticking stuff up there. I find sticking stuff up there when I am not ready causes a lot of anxiety-- does putting the tampon in make you anxious? Are you comfortable touching your vagina outside of putting tampons in? I'd try experiment with touching yourself so that you get comfortable with the feeling of being touched down there.

Don't worry about being in your 20's and never having used tampons. It's no big deal.
If you become comfortable enough later on, I recommend giving up the tampons altogether and getting a diva cup. They last longer, they're cheaper, they don't break inside you, they don't create garbage and they're a more ethical company than Tampax and Playtex.
posted by costanza at 4:37 PM on June 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

I've had a lot of tampon issues, too. (HELLO INTERNET!!!) My issue ended up being my aim -- I wasn't getting it all the way in, and could therefore feel it, because I was hitting the wall of my vagina and thinking it was in. What works for me is sitting up very straight (so that my torso is pretty much perpendicular to the ground) and aiming straight up towards my head. This is unusual advice, so better advice may be just trying a bunch of different angles.

Good luck to you -- it can be maddening! It took me many years of trying to get it right.
posted by i_am_a_fiesta at 4:37 PM on June 19, 2012

Can you insert a finger? If you can, then try O.B tampons. They do not have an applicator at all, and come in small sizes (they are about 1.5 inches long or so and not very big around), so they might work.

Their website has the instructions here. As you can see in Step 2, you make a space inside the tampon for your finger (like your finger is wearing a hat) and then push your finger inside the vagina.

Also make sure you are inserting it with the direction of the vaginal canal. Look at this image, which says "insert it parallel; do not insert it perpendicular" along with drawings of each.
posted by Houstonian at 4:38 PM on June 19, 2012

Just out of curiosity, has the "one leg up on the toilet seat" method worked for anyone?

Me! It's the only way I can do it. In situations where I'm in a dirty public bathroom and don't want to even put my foot on the toilet seat, I have to do a weird Captain Morgan leg-up move.

posted by cairdeas at 4:42 PM on June 19, 2012 [6 favorites]

Just out of curiosity, has the "one leg up on the toilet seat" method worked for anyone?

It's by far the easiest for me.
posted by Sidhedevil at 4:44 PM on June 19, 2012

I think I wasn't sexually mature yet-- and I think you have to be in order to feel comfortable sticking stuff up there.

It is totally possible, though (barring physical/medical issues like an unusual shape or something) to master the tampon thing as a young virgin. It can take quite a while to get used to doing it, but by the time I was around 16-17 I had it down. You have to be comfortable with your body, but you don't have to be sexually mature, imho.
posted by ocksay_uppetpay at 4:44 PM on June 19, 2012

Sounds like other folks have the techniques covered here, but I will address your worry about the sex-and-tremendous-difficulty. For whatever it's worth, I never figured out tampons until after I'd had sex - and to this day I don't know if that was an anatomy thing, or just that it happened to take me that long to figure out technique, or whatever. But as far as the sex-difficulty being related, I worried about that too, and it turned out that was totally not an issue. Figuring out tampons was way more difficult and less comfortable than figuring out sex.

Good luck! You're going to be fine, eventually you and your body will figure this stuff out together. And then, yeah, one day, think about the DivaCup. That's like, Advanced Feminine Hygiene Product, though. Pass the 101 class first.

(This has been my annual TMI-on-Metafilter post. I'm going to go back to posting about cats and movies for another year now.)
posted by Stacey at 4:45 PM on June 19, 2012 [2 favorites]

I know when I first started wearing tampons, part of the problem was that I didn't understand what angle I should be inserting them at. The way I figured this out? I stuck my finger in and felt around. You get a lot more... information? when you use your finger than when you're just blindly poking with a tampon applicator.

Also, if you get your finger up there you can try a couple of different positions (including the mythical "foot on toilet") and see which one gives you the clearest shot, so to speak - you want a nice straight line.

I totally get it if that's an uncomfortable prospect for you, but it worked for me! As a virgin even!
posted by mskyle at 4:48 PM on June 19, 2012 [3 favorites]

Use a bit of personal lube on the head of the applicator. The first few times for me I used Vaseline because I was too embarrassed to buy lube, but lube is probably best.

Don't try and insert the tampon straight up, you actually want to aim for the area just below the small of your back, or even the top of your butt.

The leg up on the toilet seat/bath helped me a lot in the early days, but as I got the hang of things I mastered using them sitting down. I find plastic applicators annoying to use as they seem to catch and scratch me when I insert them, the cardboard ones are probably the easiest for me to use. I spent most of my life using applicator free tampons (but have found them really hard to get in since moving to the USA) and this might have been an advantage is because you are using your own fingers you really get a sense of where everything is going and sitting inside you instead of randomly just poking around down there.
posted by wwax at 4:51 PM on June 19, 2012

Different brands may be more or less comfortable for you. Personally, I find OB the most comfortable - perhaps because they are the shortest I've found, so it's easy to get them fully inserted. If you do go for OBs, get the "silk touch" ones - they are smoother, so easier to insert.
posted by insectosaurus at 5:03 PM on June 19, 2012

Definitely try all sorts of crazy angles that you might not predict would work, while in different positions, and shift it around until it fits easily, don't force it. I find the angle even varies for me month-to month for some odd reason, so even after 10+ years of using tampons I still have trouble finding the right angle once in a while. I have no idea why. It had nothing to do with sex for me - the difficulty level never changed, it was just a matter of finding that perfect angle.

Note: the above is if it seems to be hitting a hard block at a certain point (depth issues). If it's more of a too-tight thing, then yes lube and being relaxed etc would be important (width issues).
posted by randomnity at 5:03 PM on June 19, 2012

I quite literally could not insert a tampon when I was a virgin. Not only could I not get it all the way in, but it was very, VERY painful to try. Your experience sounds exactly like mine in that way. And no, no different applicators/lubes/etc. helped.

The only thing that helped was breaking my hymen. You don't need to have partnered sex to do this. If you masturbate and use sufficient penetration (several fingers or a dildo will probably be needed), you should be able to do it. Go slow and use lots and lots of lube. If it doesn't happen for you, don't push it. When my hymen did finally break (and it took many, many awkward and fumbled attempts at PIV sex before it did), it was quick and while it was mildly painful, it was much less uncomfortable than what I'd felt trying to insert tampons past it.

If you have the super inflexible mega hymen like I did, the type of tampon very seriously won't matter - you won't be able to get it in far enough no matter what. Gotta get the hymen out of the way somehow first.

Don't try and insert the tampon straight up, you actually want to aim for the area just below the small of your back, or even the top of your butt.

Yes, if anything will help you get it positioned correctly, this is it. To insert a tampon, I sit and bend over all the way so my boobs touch my knees, which angles the equipment such that it's easiest to shoot towards the back. This is the best way I've found to get it deep enough and into comfortable tampon-land.
posted by sonika at 5:08 PM on June 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

For the first few years, I sat on the toilet with a "wide stance" and used a mirror (just the little one in my blush compact) to help guide the process. I'm not sure I can articulate exactly why it helped, but it did (swim team!), so that may be something else for you to try. Good luck!
posted by argonauta at 5:28 PM on June 19, 2012

While all of these suggestions are great and hopefully one is exactly the problem-solver for you, I just want to throw in that it is possible that your body simply isn't suited to tampons.

I'm a decade or two older than you, and have never had a tampon go in easily, nor stay in on its own longer than an hour. Usually more like 15 minutes. And no matter what length of time, it feels like a deep-tissue menstrual cramp as long as the tampon is in there. Every suggestions mentioned above has been tried, more than once. Cups, including Diva and Instead, are the same. NuvaRing too.

The problem for me is a prolapsed uterus. The organ hangs low, putting downward/forward pressure on whatever's been inserted, and that pressure basically jettisons(!) that little sucker out as soon as I squat or sit. In an average woman, the tampon/ring/cup tucks into a recessed pocket behind the pelvic bone and is held in place by a ledge formed by the pelvic bone. Because of the prolapse there's a thick wall of squishy bulging flesh where the pocket should be. So I can wedge a tampon behind the ledge and get it to pop into place, but it hurts going in, feel crummy while in, and doesn't stay.

So if you find that it's still not going in (and staying in) comfortably after trying all these good suggestions, DO NOT feel like you're the only one. There are at least as many suggestions MeFi could offer for finding a pad that fits your needs.
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 5:30 PM on June 19, 2012

Sometimes I have to rotate/spin the applicator during insertion. Otherwise it's like the cotton top of the tampon gets snagged on a dry part of my vaginal wall. Rotating it seems to help the tampon find its way better when there's insufficient lubrication.
posted by Maarika at 5:32 PM on June 19, 2012

I had a college friend who had a similar problem and needed a doctor to perform a hymenectomy. She said it was super quick, not painful at all, totally a minor thing. The doctor offered to do it during an exam and she said it only took a few minutes. After that she was able to use tampons without a problem. Have you had a GYN exam? If not, it might be worth making an appointment.
posted by k96sc01 at 5:37 PM on June 19, 2012

For both reasons that NakedCodeMonkey and sonica mention, might be worth seeing a GYN. Could be something anatomically unusual, in which case itd be better to know now.

Most likely you're just in need of practice, and it'll be fine once you figure it out- but don't be afraid to ask for help from a professional even so. If you do have some anatomical condition, many are correctable, and those that aren't you should know about anyways.

So if it the other techniques here don't work, GYN time.
posted by nat at 5:41 PM on June 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

Lots of good advice here! What also worked for me was a hint I got in high school courtesy of my friend on the swim team: don't try to use a tampon for the first time on the first day of your period. Wait until the day when your flow is the heaviest (mine's day two - HELLO INTERNET -- but YMMV), because, uh, its passage will be naturally better lubricated.

Also advising the plastic applicator "teen" or "junior" size. Tampax makes purple colored light flow slim size that might work well for you. YOU CAN DO IT!
posted by Countess Sandwich at 6:07 PM on June 19, 2012

I wasn't able to wear one until college because I kept getting it sort of in, but it was really uncomfortable. Turns out the small of the back was not the right angle for me! I need to go up, slightly back and a little to the left. And suddenly - it was in! But as someone else said, the angle can change. I've put in many hundreds of tampons over the course of my life, and some days, it just feels odd. I've found that Playtex Gentle Glide are the easiest to put in, even when my period is really light.
posted by witchstone at 6:41 PM on June 19, 2012

I'm twice your age, had plenty of sex (hello four children!) and STILL can't wear a tampon. I have no idea why they are popular, I find them difficult to insert and I am very aware of them in my body (not quite uncomfortable, but in the neighbourhood). So you aren't alone! I can't help with the tampons but I can tell you I have had no problem swimming while my period is light, it isn't like a giant cloud of blood follows me and the sharks attack. When I get out of the lake I just wrap a towel around myself and change quickly rather than lounging in my swimsuit.
posted by saucysault at 7:02 PM on June 19, 2012 [2 favorites]

Yeah, I'm with saucysault, I've never been able to wear tampons comfortably. Everything is in good working order downstairs and I'm not a virgin (though nulliparous) and I still find them wildly uncomfortable. They just don't work for me.

If you want to keep trying, definitely try the teen size tampons. A similarly built and non-child-having friend of mine swears by them.

As to the first time sex question, you'll be fine. I assume since you're on the pill, you see an OB/GYN or nurse practitioner? If there was something anatomically unusual about your lady parts, he or she would have mentioned it. Watch this video. (It's amusing AND educational and not pr0n, but also NSFW.) When the time comes: lube, foreplay, a partner you trust, and maybe a glass or two of wine, and things will be perfectly ok.
posted by Aquifer at 8:44 PM on June 19, 2012

Are you using lube on the applicator? Unless you are bloody to the point of slickness in there, you may find it much easier if you use some KY or real lube like astroglide. I don't think a drop of saliva is enough.

I would definitely NOT recommend the applicator-less OB ones for someone having trouble. You want something junior sized, with an applicator, and preferably with the term "smooth" or "glide" or something like that in the name. Not Tampax; their tip is blunt. You want one where the applicator plastic or cardboard is curved around the tampon, like a bullet.

Lube up the part that goes in. Wherever the pain has been before, aim away from that. (E.g. Pain towards the front of the vagina? Aim towards the back.)

Good luck. I remember the first time I tried one, I thought I was going to faint from the pain. But when I figured it out it became no big deal (although as many in this thread have said, once you master internal methods, there are many better ones to try than tampons. I use the Instead cups and would never go back.)
posted by fingersandtoes at 10:25 PM on June 19, 2012

Here's something else to consider: you said that you've got a really light flow, and that you've had to sit out activities like swimming because you couldn't get a tampon in. As a point of reference though, I've never gone swimming while wearing a tampon. You can just go without and it's not a problem. I think I developed a theory when I was a teenager that submersion in water slows your period down or something, and have just trusted that ever since. I don't know if that's actually true or not, but I do know I've never had a problem leaking while swimming. If the whole idea of going without makes you nervous, try swimming in a lake first (because there's no lit-up bright blue floor beneath you, the water is cloudier) and checking your swimsuit afterwards.

Anyway, I add that to the discussion of more direct practical how-to advice, because the idea that not so much is riding on learning how to put a tampon in might help you relax about it, which should make it easier to get in. Also, a tampon that is 75% in is always wildly uncomfortable, and it is not an indication that it will be equally uncomfortable when it is 100% in, so don't get discouraged by that fact alone.
posted by colfax at 2:02 AM on June 20, 2012

Can you insert a finger in your vagina and reach up to your cervix? Figure that out and an OB will be easy.

I find that applicators make things needlessly complicated. I understand that they work for some, but if you haven't tried OBs it's at least worth a shot. (FWIW, I find the regular style more comfortable and secure than the silk touch).

I think this thread reflects the diversity of women's bodies and experiences. Give yourself a fair shot at experimenting and then go get help from a gyn or gyn nurse. Why make life more difficult than it has to be?
posted by Salamandrous at 6:17 AM on June 20, 2012

A lot of great advice in this thread. If you try everything and are still having trouble, I think you should talk to your gynecologist. I guarantee she has heard this question a lot - you can see from all the responses here that your problem is not uncommon! It's definitely possible that your hymen is not broken. I don't know anything about hymenectomies or anything like that, although that sounds like a good option, but at least she can tell you if any part of your anatomy is making things difficult.

That said, when I was 11 (pre-period), I had a yeast infection and had to use Monistat. I'm pretty sure that's when I broke my hymen, because the first time I used the applicator it was awful and really painful, but not using it wasn't really an option. However when I got my period the next year, tampons were a piece of cake.

My only other advice would be to try on the heaviest day of your period (for me it was always the beginning), and also add some lube.
posted by radioamy at 6:15 PM on June 20, 2012

I would very, very much suggest considering a cup. I know it might seem like a cup is bigger and more unwieldy, but the comfort is SO much better with a cup. It's like night and day.

There are three main reasons why this might be a good option for you, in particular. First, you can reinsert it if you don't get it quite right. I've been there with the whole tampon thing; you shove it up there funny and now you have no tampons except the one that's already used. Ugh.

Second, you can wear a cup all the time, even between periods, in case you're spotting. If you're expecting your period, or if you don't know how much discharge (of whatever type) you're going to have, you can go to the bathroom and check. Then you just pop it back in. No fuss.

Third, the smooth and nonporous material means that it won't suck up all of your internal moisture like a tampon can. When you're on a light day, and the only moisture is the small amount of discharge, that tampon can feel awfully dry and rough. I've felt so much more comfortable all around since I got my cup.

Bonus: it's way less noticeable than a tampon. No string or anything; nothing to fall out or get stuck on you. When it's in, it's in.

You can look here for a chart detailing the sizes of different brands. However, you might be surprised about which brand fits you best. Here in the US (and, I suppose, Canada), the Diva Cup and Keeper are probably the most popular brands, and with good reason. You will have to pry my Diva Cup out of my cold, dead, postmenopausal hands.
posted by Madamina at 12:42 PM on June 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

Have you been able to have a pelvic exam without any problems? If so, yay! Great advice upthread (particularly trying using some lube, I think).

If you haven't had a pelvic exam, ever, you should consider making an appointment with a gynecologist and get that taken care of, and ask her (or him) about the tampons, as long as you're there.

If you have had a pelvic exam and it went about the same as trying to insert a tampon, consider that you may have something like vaginismus. While I agree with someone upthread that a good doctor/nurse would have mentioned it to you at the time, I can say from experience that not every doctor/nurse will help you figure out what you can do (which is plenty!). Anyway, if you had a bad pelvic exam and the doctor/nurse was unhelpful about that, I recommend that you find a new dr/nurse (if at all possible).

Good luck!
posted by freezer cake at 2:50 PM on June 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

Get the smallest, thinnest, most plastic edition, use lube if you feel like it, and then, when you push the applicator in, push it that much farther. As in it should almost disappear. (Don't worry, it can't :D) Then, and only then, press the plunger and eject the tampon itself. The tampon must be placed way past the bendy region, which is either uncomfortable or painful, and into the dimensionless nether region. Then, once in, do some Kegels. You basically should not feel the tampon engaged by those muscles. If you do it's not really in far enough.

My bigger problem is grabbing onto the stupid applicator to get enough traction to position it right. Usually the plastic ones have good ridges.

These many years and I still sometimes put them in wrong and have to redo after a few minutes. Mostly I use a Diva Cup, though.
posted by skbw at 3:49 PM on June 23, 2012

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