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How to insert a tampon

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 with 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 parts: the tampon and the string. The applicator has three parts: the barrel, grip, plunger. Cardboard or plastic, every applicator will have the same parts. Can you identify these parts on your tampon?

To use the applicator, you hold on to the grip, insert the barrel inside your vaginal opening and push the plunger into the barrel to push out of the applicator. That’s basically how an applicator is used. Pretty simple right? Now let’s go through each step in detail so you can be a real pro at this!

Check the tampon before using it
  • Give the string a light tug to make sure it’s attached properly. I always do this just in case but I’ve never had a string break on me.
  • Also check the tip of the barrel to ensure it’s smooth and that there are no sharp plastic parts.
Step 1: Sit on the toilet and spread your knees apart.
how to hold tampon

With two fingers, hold onto the grip. I like to use my middle finger and thumb and then place my index finger on the plunger.

Step 2: Insert the tip of the applicator into your vaginal opening and then slide the entire barrel inside you. The grip that you’re holding stays outside.
how to insert tamponhow to insert tamponWhen you’re sitting down, your vagina is parallel to the floor, not perpendicular. So slide it in at an angle, aiming for your lower back. It will slide most smoothly this way. Do not push it straight up because it won’t go in smoothly.

If you got it in, then you have it in correctly. Good job!

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

Step 3: Now that the barrel is inside you, hold the grip and push the plunger inside. This will push the tampon inside you and into its proper place.

how to insert tampon
I like to hold the grip using my middle finger and thumb so that I can use my index finger for this step.

Step 4: Hold onto the grip and pull the entire applicator out. The tampon is now inside you and only the string should hang outside of you.

When it’s in the right place, it will sit in the upper two thirds of the vagina where you won’t be able to feel it. This is because the upper two thirds of the vagina isn’t very sensitive to touch. 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

If you can still feel it, you can do two things:
  1. Use your finger, insert it inside your vaginal opening and feel for the bottom of the tampon. Use your finger and push it up further until you can’t feel it.
  2. Just take it out and start all over with a new tampon
Are you still having trouble inserting your tampon?

Don’t worry! Try these helpful tips!:

  • When you’re sliding in the barrel, twist the applicator at the same time. The twisting motion will help the barrel glide right in!
  • Wait until there is lots of period blood. The blood will help lubricate the applicator 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 totally 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 lives in Vancouver, BC and is a 2014 graduate of the University of British Columbia with a B.A. in Psychology. She is the blogger, writer, photographer, and tester for all the reviews and articles on the blog.Her menstrual cycle is around 35 to 40 days long and she has tried just about everything from menstrual cups to reusable pads.

123 comments

  1. Hi! i’ve tried using a tampon for several times but it only get in for 1 cm.
    I really want to use it cause period stop me from practising water sports and there is trial coming up!!

    Thanks for your help.

  2. I tried insert the tampon during my period but I struggled to get the whole thing in. I tried it for several time and be as relaxed as possible each time. It get in about 1 cm and stopped, I really want to use a tampon cause it periods stop me from practising water sports. And I have trail coming soon!!

    Thanks for helping.

    • Hi Joyce,

      Are you using an applicator? If you are, wait until there is lots of blood, then try again. Your blood will act as a lubricant to help the applicator easily glide in.

      If you’re not on your period anymore, you can try to find your vaginal opening using your finger. Follow my guide here: How to Find Your Vaginal Opening

      I hope that helps.

      Your friend,
      -Dedy
      The Period Blog

  3. Hi,

    A few questions, please. 1. Do you push it in until the beginning of the grip, like in the picture? 2. When injecting the tampon through the applicator, are you sopposed to hold the tampon at the beginning of the grip? I’m squeamish when it comes to down there and sometimes I don’t get it all the way in and it’s uncomfortable. I really appreciate it, in advance. thanks

    Roxy

    • Hi Roxy,

      Lots of awesome and good questions!!

      1. Yes, put it until only the grip is outside.
      2. When you push in the plunger, your fingers should be holding onto the grip. The barrel is inside of you. If you don’t get it all the way in, you can always insert your finger, fell for the bottom of the tampon and push it up higher into place :).

      Hope that helps.

      Your friend,
      -Dedy
      The Period Blog

  4. Hey Dedy,

    Im having a lot of trouble gettting the applicator in.

    When i lie down i can get my finger in far enough but as soon as i try to get the applictor in i cant get it to fit

    • Hi Zoe,

      Try doing this sitting down on the toilet. This is how you will do it when you’re in a public toilet too – not lying down but sitting on the toilet. Aim the tampon applicator towards your lower back (not straight up and down). Try that and let me know if that helps!

      Your friend,
      -Dedy

  5. Hi Dedy!
    So I just started my period about 3 months ago, and I’m using pads. But here’s the thing. I feel like I’m wearing a full baby diaper all day! I really want to start to use tampons, but just thinking about inserting a tampon makes my stomach turn! I’m going over my friends house and she has a pool, but I don’t want to sit out or keep my friends from having a fun time in the pool! What should I do? I’m so nervous!
    ~Cassandra

    • Hi Cassandra,

      They do feel like diapers sometimes!!

      If you have your period and want to get into the pool then you’ll need to wear a tampon. Pads will absorb all the pool water. When you get your period, just try inserting a tampon. I promise it’s not that bad and definitely doesn’t feel like a diaper :).

      Remember you can always sit out from pool activities too. Your girl friends will understand :). I hope that helps Cassandra. Let me know if you have any more questions.

      Your friend,
      -Dedy

  6. One question wut if the tampon gets stuck how would u get it out of ur vaginal opening

    • Hi JenJen!

      Good question! The good news is that the vagina is like a cul de sac so it’s impossible for a tampon to get lost because there is literally no where for it to go! You can learn more about your anatomy here: http://www.theperiodblog.com/anatomy/the-female-reproductive-system/

      Your tampon is attached to a string and if you’ve ever taken apart a tampon, you’ll find that the strings are stitched to the tampon and very hard for it to come a part from the tampon. But there are cases where the string may get lost inside your vagina IF the string is too short. This is very uncommon but I’ve heard this happening to a few girls.

      When this happens, you just have to fish it out with your fingers. Remember the tampon has no where to go so you just have to slide your fingers inside your vagina and you should be able to feel the bottom of the lost tampon or at least the string. Then you just pull it out :)!

      And worse case scenario, if you can’t find it, you will have to visit a doctor to remove it for you.

      I hope that answers your question JenJen!

      Your friend,
      -Dedy

  7. Hi Dedy! I’m 13 and I’ve had my period for a little less than a year.

    Over spring break we went on vacation to Hawaii. Luckily I didn’t get my period then, but that got me thinking: what if I want to swim on my period? I had my mom buy me a pack of Tampax tampons (a duo pack with light, regular, and super).

    I’ve had my period for the past few days, and I can’t insert them in! At first I tried the regular, to no avail. My more recent attempts have been with the light tampons, but they still won’t fit!

    I read up online and decided to “explore” with a mirror. I found my vaginal opening (using your instructions!) but my hole only seems to be the size of my pupil. Is my vagina too small for a tampon? Is my hymen in the way? According to your FAQ on hymens, I have an annular one (I think.)

    The problem is, even though my period is over now, I feel really stressed about it. I read some stuff about something called vaginismus and I’m afraid that I have it and that I’ll never be able to insert a tampon. I tried so many times over this period, but it never went in to anywhere! I can’t even fit a finger in there, not even a pinky! Am I so stressed about this that the muscles are tensing up?

    I’ve tried so many times and I can’t help but feel like a complete failure and worry about it. Should I visit a doctor? My mom’s telling me that I should wait and give myself a chance to grow (I’m kind of a tiny person) but I feel like no one’s vagina looks as weird and tiny as mine! How can I even try to insert a tampon when my stomach ties in knots just thinking about it? I feel pressured to be able to do this!

    Help! What do I do? Am I normal?

    • Hi Kate,

      Try using your finger to find your vaginal opening. It’s easier to find when you can feel for it instead of poking around with an applicator :). Also if you wait until you have your period again, then you can just feel for and follow where your period is coming from. That will lead you to your vaginal opening.

      Remember your vaginal opening can expand and contract (to the small size you see now) so yes your finger should fit!

      I hope that helps! Good luck! Let me know if you have any more questions.

      Your friend,
      Dedy
      The Period Blog

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