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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.

47 comments

  1. hi, I’ve recently tried to use a tampon because I’m tired of pads. but everytime that I’ve tried, I’ve a) tried to use a wrong whole b) it hurts way too and won’t go in even a little. I finally got the right hole and put my finger in a little, and then I think I found my problem. it gets smaller and I physically won’t go up! am I doing something wrong? I’ve been crying all night because I can’t figure it out and I’m so frustrated! please help me!

  2. I have only had my period 2 times and I’m going to the bahamas soon and I realize if I’m gonna swim, I have to use a tampon. I’m scared, even to tell my mom I want them for the trip. I wondered if I could use her tampons for myself? Do they have to be a certain size for different people? Will they leak when I’m swimming cause I don’t want to be swimming around with blood flowing out. Plz reply! Thanks :)

    • Hi M Bee,

      You can use your mom’s tampons. Just choose a tampon that matches your flow so if your flow is light, use a light tampon. If your flow is normal, use a regular tampon, etc. Just use the lowest absorbency you need for your flow :).

      Good luck!
      -Dedy
      The Period Blog

  3. Hi! I can insert a tampon, but when I sit down it feels uncomfortable, and when I walk around in it for a little I can feel it and it is very uncomfortable. I have looked at many other websites and have tried using their advice, but the tampon is just always uncomfortable! Any advice?

    • Hi Maddy,

      Sounds like the tampon isn’t far up enough. Use your finger and put it in your vagina (the same way you put in the applicator), feel for the bottom of the tampon and then use your finger to push the tampon up higher until you can’t feel it. You will probably only push it up 2 or 2.5 cm. Try that!

      Hope that helps! Good luck Maddy!

      -Dedy
      The Period Blog

  4. Hi, I’ve tried using tampons several times because my friend recommended them, when I try I just can’t find the hole or get it in, and I get stressed every time and sometimes end up crying, any advice on conquering the fear of tampons and how I can improve on getting It in?

    • Hey, don’t worry if you can’t get it. Don’t feel like you have to use tampons because your friends are. If you really want to use them though, try to relax and just follow the above steps. If it doesn’t work it’s alright, you can try again. Just know that not using tampons is totally okay too

  5. hi, I started my period about half a year ago & I’ve only been using pads so far but I don’t like the way they feel & I always feel like they’re going to leak… so this month when my period started I tried out tampons for the first time but I couldn’t get it in & when I tried it hurt. I tried again today but the same thing happened… now I’m really nervous to try again. & I’m a figure skater so I can’t wear pads while ice skating because they would be really hard to do tricks in & move around in. please give me some advice on how to get a tampon in easily with out any pain. thank you.

  6. So this was my second time trying to use a tampon and I’m still having problems. I just can’t figure out which angle or way to face the tampon when I need to put it in and I try to follow diagrams but it doesn’t help. I tried in an angle and I put it in and even when I was done I could still feel it and it was a little painful and extremely uncomfortable. I just feel like I can’t figure this out at all. :/ I used tampex pearl in regular (plastic applicator).

    • Hi Lala,

      It sounds like you did not insert it far up enough. Next time you put a tampon in, use your finger and insert it into your vagina. With the tip of your finger, you should be able to feel the bottom of your tampon. If it feels like it is low, use your finger to push it up higher until you cannot feel the tampon anymore.

      Let me know if that helps Lala! Good luck :).

      xoxo,
      -Dedy
      The Period Blog

  7. I must have gone through at least a pack of tampons trying to get them to work…. I just can’t do it! But I hate pads they are disgusting. But when I try and insert a tampon it says to push past the resistance but I can’t! It just won’t go any further! But the cotton part is still half way out so the tampon is not in. It’s so annoying I have wasted so many tampons on this problem. Am I putting it in wrong?

  8. I taught my 11 year old daughter to use tampons today. She wasn’t wild about the idea but she’s a competitve swimmer. Your blog helped a lot. Thank you!

  9. I’ve tried so many timeS and i need to learn bc I’m on the swim team, i can always feel it after i insert the tampon HELP ME

  10. Hi, I’ve been using tampons for years, the only problem is that I still have to wear a pad while using a tampon. This is not because my flow is too heavy, it’s just that the tampon is not absorbing all of the blood. Sometimes there is only blood on one side of the tampon. Also when I insert the tampon I have tried straight, angled, perpendicular it just doesn’t work. When I go to change my tampon and pad it’s as if I didn’t even have one in. Someone asked why do I waste the money on tampons? Well I still figure it’ll absorb something and I really hate the messy feel of a pad. When I insert the tampon there is a lot of blood on my fingers ( gross) and blood is actually on the string too. If I take toilet paper and wipe myself I am still wiping blood? It’s almost as if the blood somehow is bypassing the tampon? For instance I followed your instructions bc I thought for once I could actually just where a tampon on its own, but I had to put a bed mat down in case of an accident. There was no big leak or anything, however; as I visited the bathroom periodically and I wiped at the vagina opening there was blood, I took out the tampon it was no where near full? Another question when you urinate with a tampon on should there be blood on the paper after you wipe? I would like to say thanks for your help because I must say I was able to wear only a tampon for a couple of hours during my last cycle, I must’ve done something right without knowing it? But I’m back again with this cycle and no success again. I also use different absorbency tampons. Using super bc I thought that would make a difference? It didn’t. Lol! Plz help. My doc told be once that my cervix points backwards? So for years I tried inserting it forward to compensate for that??? I don’t know if that contributes to the problem but it’s really frustrating. Thanks

    • Hello Charlene,

      Thanks for sharing your experience! I get blood on my hands too. It is a bit icky sometimes but it’s okay just wipe with a toilet paper and wash it off :). I’ll try to address all your concerns. Let me know if I missed anything ok?

      1. It sounds like the tampon you are using is not working for you. Which one are you using? Some only expand in one direction, while some expand length wise, and others expand 360 in all directions. Try the o.b. tampons. They expand in all directions for that perfect fit.

      2. When you pee with a tampon in, it is normal for there to be blood on the toilet paper after you wipe if your tampon is leaking. Sometimes a tampon may not catch all the period, this is when it leaks even before the tampon is fully saturated. Again, you just have to try different brands to see which one works the best for your body’s shape. This is also why it is recommended to wear panty liners with tampons to catch these leaks.

      3. I am not sure what your doctor means when he says your cervix points backwards but I do not think it would affect the way you wear a tampon. The tampon is worn in the vaginal canal where all your period blood must pass through to exit through the vaginal opening. The tampon absorbs the period before it reaches the vaginal opening. You may want to revisit your doctor and ask him or her to clarify :).

      4. Whichever angle you insert it doesn’t matter as long as you get it in and it sounds like you have successfully inserted and worn a tampon so good job!

      xoxo,
      -Dedy
      http://www.ThePeriodBlog.com

  11. Hi all I have regular monthly periods. I always use pads. This month I had to try tampons as I was going to swim and on my way to the pool I got my period. I used a tampon for the very first time. After 5 hours I changed and put a pad on this time. The tampon was not full it only had some brown discharge. From the moment I put the pad till 5 hours later the pad was empty. I only had brown discharge I usually have that on the last 2 days.
    On the second and third day I only had low flow brown discharge whats wrong with me.i thing that I shouldn’t used tampons with the 1st day low flow.

    Please help!!!

    • Hello Jacky,

      If you have a low flow, opt for a light absorbency tampon. It sounds like the tampon you used was just too absorbent so just choose a less absorbent one next time. A tampon will not affect how your flow behaves. It sounds like your period is just very light right now.

      -Dedy
      The Period Blog

  12. Oh my goodness, firstly can I just say today I had the worst day, my pad leaked all over my school uniform! I was so upset that I went home And looked up every website I could find, after endless searching and trying I found this website! Thank you so much!

  13. ovulation calculator plz! ovulation calculator plz! ovulation calculator plz!

  14. Looking to get pregnant

    What’s the best ovulation calculator?

    Can you please review some ovulation calculators for iphone?

    Thanks so much for your help! Love your blog!!!

    xx.

  15. I have a date and I want to wear shorts. I probably will be playing some kind of sport with my boyfriend so I want to wear a tampon instead of a uncomfortable and noticeable pad.. I’ve wore a tampon once yo the lake but it hurt so bad that Ikinda walked funny. I have read about 4 blogs about inserting tampons but iI’mstill nervous. EEvery time I try it is either painful and uncomfortable or not all the way in. I don’tkknowhow to insert it were iI can’t feel it… Please get back to me as soon as possible!!

    • Hi Kyllie,

      Try again on a heavy day. The blood will help tampon slide in more effortlessly.

      If you are walking funny then it sounds like you did not insert it far up enough. Remember only the string should be hanging outside of you and to insert the applicator until only the grip is outside.

      Let me know how it goes. Good luck.

      xoxo,
      -Dedy

  16. When I try to insert the tampon it will go in a couple inches and then it will hurt and not go in any farther. Could I be putting it in at the wrong angle?

  17. I just started using tampons I am only 14 I am afraid of it going to far? Is it possible to go to far? And I don’t know how far to go because now I feel it but I’m scared to push it back more? I need help do you have any advice? Thanks,Ashley

  18. Can we still have sex while the tampon is up inside absorbing the monthly flow?

  19. I put in a tampon but when i sat down it hurted a little, it wasnt a lot of paint just a little but it made my vagina feel awkward. Why does it feel that way and why did it hurt

  20. almostgivinguphope

    Am I supposed to wipe before inserting the tampon or should I just leave it to make it easier to put the tampon in?

    • Hi,

      I find that the applicator slides in much easier when you don’t wipe. The blood acts as a lubricant so it slides in easier.

      xoxo,
      -Dedy

      • I cannot get the tampon in I think i found my vag because when i stick it in half way I see a couple little drops of blood of the applicator I have 3 different types of applicators I have the ubykotex sleek regular the tampax pearl sport lites and the playtex sport regular I cant get it in I even twisted it

  21. I can only get it in up to a certain point. then it just stops, as if it’s hit a wall. as if there’s no more hole…
    I’ve tried different times in different positions, lubricating, nothing seems to work. it goes in about half way and then stops. what should I do?!

    • Hi Lulu,

      How far can you get it up? Remember you only need to insert it until the grip.

      Try waiting until there is lots of blood and when you insert it twist it while you push it in at the same time. It should glide right into place! Let me know how that goes.

      -Dedy

  22. Frustratedandoverit!

    I tried using a tampon three times and I always have the same problem. I can’t find the hole! I’ve used a mirror, i’ve tried standing with on leg up, i’ve tried sitting and still can’t find it! I find a spot where i push it up and about half of the tampon goes in then i feel resistance. Then I put it on an angle but its like after that theres no where to go! Help! Ugh!

  23. People keep saying if it didn’t work, juts try tilting it diagonal. I’m not sure if you should do it diagonal towards or chest or the floor. If anyone could answer me, it would mean a lot. Thanks.

  24. I like to use the cardboard applicator. My period just ended yesterday ^__^.

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