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How to insert a tampon without an applicator

How to insert a tampon without an applicator

Insert a tampon in 4 easy steps

tampon parts

By the end of this How-To guide, you will learn the parts of a tampon, where it goes inside your body, and how to insert a tampon without an applicator.

The parts of a tampon
Before inserting a tampon, it’s important to understand how a tampon works and where it goes inside your body. A tampon has two main parts: the tampon itself and the string. The tampon is inserted inside your vagina and is worn there to absorb your period. The string stays outside your body so you can use it to remove or change your tampon.

Before we begin, let’s wash our hands
Inserting a tampon without an applicator is very similar to using an applicator except in this case, the applicator will be your finger. If you have super long nails, it’s a good idea to trim them first.
Step 1: Unwrap your tampon and pull the string out, pulling it from side to side so that your tampon looks like a little ghost.

pulling the tampon stringtampon without applicator

See how it’s all fluffy in the center now? We’re going to use this fluffy groove to insert the tampon.

Step 2: Hold the tampon with one finger in the groove we just created.
how to hold a tamponhow to hold a tampon
I like to hold it using three fingers. My index finger in the groove and my middle finger and thumb holding the tampon. The finger in the groove will act as the applicator, pushing the tampon into place in our next step. This is how I hold it but you can hold it in whichever way works for you.
Step 3: Sitting on the toilet with your knees spread, insert the tip of the tampon into your vaginal opening
how to insert a tampon
Use your thumb and middle finger to hold and guide the tampon while using your index finger to push it in.
Having trouble finding your vaginal opening?
It is okay. Put a mirror down there and look. Don’t be scared. It is your own body. You can even use your finger to find it. It is the only hole you can put your finger in and is bigger than your urethra. It is impossible to accidentally put your tampon in your urethra or pee hole. If you got it in even an inch, then it’s the right hole. There is no other hole so if you got it in a little, it’s the right one! Keep going!

If you need more help, check out our guide: How to find your vaginal opening

Okay, now that you have the tip of the tampon in, you’re ready to move onto Step 4!

Step 4: Use the full length of your finger to insert the tampon, pushing it into place.
how to insert tampon
Push it all the way in aiming for your lower back until you can’t feel it anymore. This will typically be the full length of your finger. Remember that the vaginal canal is parallel to the ground, meaning it is sideways and not straight up and down. That’s why we’re aiming for our lower back.
Insert TamponSometimes this step is a little uncomfortable because the tampon may be too dry. The lower third of the vaginal canal (closest to the opening) has a lot more nerves that are sensitive to touch than the upper two thirds, making it more sensitive to the friction of a dry tampon rubbing against your vaginal walls. It may even feel a little painful at first but once you get it past the lower third of the vaginal canal, it goes in a lot easier.

The upper two thirds of the vagina are less sensitive to touch and more sensitive to pressure. This is why many tampon instructions tell you to “insert the tampon until you can’t feel it anymore”. You need to push the tampon up until it’s in this area.

Now you are finished! After a couple tampons, you will be a pro at this!

how to insert tampon

Are you still having trouble inserting your tampon?

Don’t worry! Try these helpful tips!:

  • Try a tampon with a veil over it. The veil will lessen the friction of a dry tampon and help it slide in easier.
  • Wait until there is lots of period blood. The blood will help lubricate the tampon and make it easier to slide in.
  • If you’re nervous, your muscles may tense up, making it harder for you to insert a tampon. Just keep on trying and eventually you will become more comfortable and relaxed.
  • It may take a couple tries to get it in the first time and that’s completely okay. Take a break and try again in a couple hours.
Tampon Tips
  • Make a mental note of the time. A tampon shouldn’t be worn for over 8 hours.
  • Choose a tampon with the lowest absorbency needed for your flow.
  • You can pee while wearing a tampon. Just lift the string up so it doesn’t get wet.
  • Wear a pantiliner to help catch any leaks.
  • A good indicator that you need to change your tampon is when you feel a bit wet down there or if you see your period leaking onto your panties or the string.
If you’re still having trouble inserting your tampon, leave a comment and tell me which step you’re having trouble with :)!

Remember, I can’t help you if you don’t say which part you’re having trouble with.

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About Dedy Wong

Dedy is the founder of The Period Blog and creator of The Little Red Kit. Her period is around 30 days long and likes to use pads and tampons -although she has tried just about everything including menstrual cups and period subscription boxes!


  1. Hi i’ve used pads up until now but i have a gymnastics competition coming up in a few days but ill be on my period. Ive tried to insert a tampon but it really hurt and wouldnt go in all the way – half of it was sticking out. It also really hurts even a bit after ive taken it out (although its died down now) i tried to relax and i think i did it paralell but its hard to tell. How do i stop the hurting and how do i get it in all the way without it being painfull?

    • I assume you used a non-applicator tampon, in which case I would highly recommend a light tampon with a plastic applicator. The applicator should help you get it all the way in, and with the plastic it should slide in much easier without the drying and painful rubbing.

  2. I’m turning 16 in a few days and i just started my period. I’ve been using pads but i want to try using a tampon but when i tried it hurt really bad to try and put it in. I dont know what i’m doing wrong or why it hurts so bad.

  3. I’m eleven years old and keep having my period. I’m using pads but want to try a tampon. People told me that tampons are really painful and pads are much, much better. But once I read this, tampons dont seem to be that painful; which should I use? Pads or tampons?

    • Hi Lexi!

      Tampons are not painful but they can be a bit uncomfortable if not inserted properly. What you choose to use is completely up to you :)! I would recommend you try both pads and tampons and see what you like more.

      Your friend,
      The Period Blog

  4. I’m 13 and only had my period once I’m also a gymnast and I we can only wear leotards no shorts ive never used a tampon before but I’ve tried and it didn’t go in. I can find my vaginal opening but it’s sooooo small and I don’t know how to relax to make it big enough to fit my finger let alone the smallest tampons. PLEASE REPLY

  5. I tried and was secsesful of my second go, although it kinda hurts mostly when I sit down or walk, Is it in wrong?

  6. I’m away on a surfing trip with my family and I started my period I’m 14 and my period is really in regular Iv never used a tampon before and my mum just told me lots of women do this and basiclly just to get over myself and do it so I tried but it didn’t work I don’t know why, now I don’t know what to do ! PLEASE HELP!!

  7. Thank you so much!
    I’m 16 and finally ready to use tampons. They’ve always seemed scary to me. My mum was pressuring me to use them when I was 14 but that made me more reluctant. my mum is away for the weekend so I couldn’t ask her help. The first time I tried to insert it I didn’t push far enough and I could feel it. This guide really helped. Other sites didn’t have pictures so I didn’t know how far to push.

  8. I’m in 7th grade and I just stared my period this morning, my end of the year field trip is coming up on Wednesday and I know it won’t be over by then. We are going to roaring springs in Boise and I promised my friends I would ride with them. I have never used a tampon before because my mom never let me, I’ve tried everything and it just hurts to much. I tried to figure out by the steps and it won’t work. I’m too scared and I don’t like talking to my mom about it. Please help me :(

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