Forgetting to remove the tampon is something that happens to many women. It may happen at the end of the menstruation, when there is no need to change them and a woman can simply forget that last one. Some women put in the new tampon forgetting to remove the previous, pushing it more back in. This can also happen to mature women who use tampons to prevent urine loss due to slight incontinency, for example during exercise.
A tampon can be “lost” inside the vagina if it is a smaller one that was pushed too hard or too deep inside and the string is no longer hanging out. Another possible way to lose a tampon in the vagina is if a woman has intercourse while the tampon in.
When this happens, the tampon usually shifts sideways and gets compressed in the far end of the vagina.
A tampon that is left inside the vagina can cause an infection. Because vagina is not a sterile environment it is fairly easy for an infection to start when a foreign objects is left inside for a longer period of time. Women who forget the tampon inside the vagina sometimes do not remember it for a couple of weeks, or start doubting if they took it out when the first signs of infection appear.
Signs of an infection include a foul smell, discharge and pain, possibly with fever. For most women the infection in question is bacterial vaginosis, which is not difficult to treat.
The most dangerous complication of this is the toxic shock syndrome, which is rare but can be fatal.
What to do
The first thing to do upon realizing that a tampon is lost inside the vagina is to try and get it out. A woman can do this by herself, if she wants, or she can see a doctor who will retrieve it easily.
It is important to retrieve the tampon with hands that are completely clean. It is best to use warm water and an antibacterial soap or an antiseptic. If the hands are not clean there is a possibility of introducing bacteria to the vagina and causing an infection.
The best position for retrieving a tampon is sitting down on the toilet seat with the feet propped on an object, for example a waste bin, that is about 12 inches high, and bearing down. Simulating a bowel movement will contract the muscles and it may push the tampon a little bit to the outside. If the string is not out yet, a woman will have to reach inside the vagina with her fingers.
The end of the vagina is reached when the finger feels the cervix, which is shaped like an upside down bowl and feels like the tip of the nose. The space between the cervix and the vagina walls is most likely the place where the tampon is stuck.
When the fingers feel the tampon, it should be trapped between them and gently pulled outside.
If the tampon cannot be retrieved this way, it is recommended to see a gynecologist who will pull it out very easily and painlessly.