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How to insert a tampon

Insert a tampon in 4 easy steps

parts of cardboard and plastic tampons

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 a tampon applicator

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.
vagina diagram labelledhow to insert a tampon

When 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.

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 a 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.


  1. Hi I saw a post on Twitter about TSS (toxic shock syndrome) should I be scared about this when putting in a tampon?

    • Hi Keely,

      As long as you understand how to properly use a tampon then you don’t have to worry about it. Know that you need to change your tampon at least once every 8 hours (but likely you will change before the 8 hour mark). If your tampon doesn’t fill up by 8 hours, then switch to a lower absorbency or even change to a pad. TSS is not very common but it is very important to recognize the signs of TSS – rash on body like a sunburn, fever… If you have any of these signs, remove your tampon immediately and seek medical attention.

      Don’t be scared :). Just be prepared and know what to expect. I hope that helps Keely!

      Your friend,
      The Period Blog

  2. Hi! So I actually haven’t started my period yet, but I have looked down there and found the hole. But, it’s really small! It like the size of the tip of a paint brush! How could I ever fit a tampon up there? I’m really worried, HELP!

    • Hi Hazel,

      The vaginal opening easily stretches :). It is just a fact of how it works just like how your fingers can bend and your nose can smell – the vaginal opening can easily stretch :). At resting state it is very small that’s why it looks so tiny!

      Your friend,
      The Period Blog

  3. Hello! I’m 15 years old and its NOT my first time using a tampon I have used a tampon several times before when my red came around the last time I used a tampon was back in December and after I am unable to insert a tampon and sometimes it’s frustrating knowing that I did it before and I can’t do it anymore I’ve tried so many times now and still can’t do it and now I’m stuck with the disgusting pads again that hate and I’m a track runner too so being able to wear tamping again will save my life I’m just so confused why I could do it before and why I can’t do it now please help me get rid of these nasty pads and back to tampons

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