Go to The Lost Tampon Video for practical tips, inside information, and real-life demonstrations – as well as a few chuckles.
Women’s Health News has an interesting topic and comments about what women go through when a tampon gets “lost.” So can a tampon head north for spring break? How far? Isn’t there a border check somewhere?
More importantly, what should you do if it happens to you? Assuming you don’t have male-plumbing, here’s the Doc Gurley take on the Lost Tampon situation:
I can promise you, your tampon did not go anywhere. As a physician who has removed more than a few lost tampons, I can say that any doc that makes you feel embarrassed (like using the air freshener while you’re still in the room) or discusses the issue with implications of blame (as in saying something about not seeing “a case in years since they took super absorbency tampons off the market”) needs a big Wet Noodle Slap upside the head. Women who lose a tampon, or can’t figure out what’s happening to them, are feeling plenty awkward enough. In this situation, the official Doc job is to be kind and uber-tactful. Lost tampons are a fortunately rare fact of life. It happens.
How? Vaginas are not all alike, but most have folds and indents. “Losing” a tampon happens when one gets truly forgotten, or when one gets tucked up into a fold (making the tampon sometimes hard-to-reach, even with a light and speculum–hey, they have the string for a reason, folks). You can even have a tampon tucked up sideways behind the curve of a cervix. When a tampon stays there for days or weeks, your body goes to work, doing its best to protect you–it coats the tampon with white blood cells (pus) and starts an heroic (heroine-ic?) effort to breakdown and budge this (from a cell’s perspective) enormous object. The vagina’s soft mucosal wall, that the tampon is flattened against, gets irritated and raw. Germs overgrow. But women tolerate this remarkably well–TSS (toxic shock syndrome) is generally unheard-of in this setting, and once the tampon is removed, healing occurs quickly. The smell also tends to go away rapidly – it’s probably mostly from the decayed blood in the tampon (however, a peanut stuck up a kid’s nose for days also has that same foul smell). A “lost” tampon tends to fall to pieces on removal. A decent doc will use a curved tool to gently scoop out pieces, all the while chatting over the wall of white knee-to-knee paper. Patient self-care afterwards includes: 1) don’t douche–your body will flush whatever it needs to out and douching is not going to help your healing or restore normal bacteria at all; 2) consider helping your vagina’s normal germs re-populate by eating yogurt with live bacteria; and 3) use sanitary napkins for discharge/periods for the next few days. Obviously see your healthcare person right away for continuing discharge, fever or crampy pains. Also make sure the tampon issue doesn’t distract you or your provider from checking you out for other infections/STDs if it’s warranted.
Still worried or confused? Go to The Lost Tampon Video for practical tips, inside information, and real-life demonstrations – as well as a few chuckles.
Have an episode of “Lost” you’d like to share with us? Use the comments section below.