The secret reason you may be having trouble with tampons: Part one
Tampons can seem pretty scary to begin with. But trying to use a tampon and not finding a hole to actually get it in? Double scary. Especially when there's an underlying problem making your excitment towards womanhood come to a complete hault.
The reality of it is, sometimes tampons just don't work for some people. We found two girls who have experienced first hand how frustrating tampons can be. One in the middle of some shocking news about her hoo-ha and another who went through a seemingly never ending tampon tunnel (and survived).
The princess of the pads with the tampon troubles
Being the youngest girl in my grade really sucked. But you want to know what really sucked? Having to listen to all the girls in my class proudly throwing around the “it’s my time of the month” excuse. It seemed like I was checking every day for some hint of womanhood on my panties to show up. Then FINALLY, when I was 13 years old, the period fairy came to visit me.
Pads were a total drag. I felt like I was wearing a diaper 24/7 and was always worrying that I’d leak through my clothing. I knew it was going to be a bad week when I couldn’t even wear my favorite dress or pair of shorts. Despite all the hang-ups, I was grateful to finally be a part of the not-so-secret society of womanhood with my friends.
Then, when I turned 16 it hit me that all my friends were using the oh-so magical tampon (and I had not even tried). Supposedly, it was like the period guardian angel: less stress and less mess, and you could even swim on your period! I figured it was time to take the plunge and start using them myself, so I got the guts to ask my mom to buy my first box of tamps.
The directions on the little paper inside seemed simple enough (plus my mom had walked me through the instructions a million times). I took the little white wonder out of the plastic wrap and went to insert it and well, uh-oh… it didn’t work. I had read and heard about lots of girls who had trouble inserting tampons their first time, so I figured it was totally normal.
I took another tampon out of its wrapper and tried again.
Eventually, I went through half the box in one day and then completely gave up. Something just wasn’t right. It literally felt like something was blocking me from getting the tampon inside...this is about the time I went into total panic mode. What was wrong with me? Why could I not get this stupid thing in?
This cycle went on for six months: trying and trying and trying to use tampons, only to face the exact same problem over and over again.
I knew I need to talk to my mom so I pushed myself to talk to her about all the issues I was having. It wasn't easy trying to explain to her that I’d gone through a bajillion unused boxes of tampons she'd bought me and needed help down there. I have to say, this was one of the most awkward and embarrassing conversations I’d ever had in my life. I explained what was going on every time I tried to insert a tampon. My mother's response immediately was, “Don’t worry. You're overracting. Everyone has trouble with tampons, trust me. Look, let me help you insert one so you can see how it actually works.”
Uhhh, absolutely no way! In my mind, the last thing I was gonna do was let my mom look down there and insert a tampon for me (yuck!). After another month of frustration, tears and twenty more dollars wasted on tampons, I decided to suck it up let my mom help me. I laid down on the bed and let my mom check things out as she began inserting the tampon and explaining how it worked. Immediately, there was blockage followed by excruciating pain-- that was the moment we decided it was time to make an appointment with the gynecologist.
My first trip to the gyno was so nerve-racking and totally uncomfortable (uh, hi, I'm here because I can't get a tampon in...talk about embarrassing).
I had to keep myself from having total freak-outs in the waiting room by reminding myself that this was just a normal part of being a girl. I laid down on the examination table and spread my legs as instructed. Sure, me and the doc were the only ones in the room, but it seriously felt like I was on display for the whole world to see. The doctor began the examination and tried to insert her finger. Nothing. She stopped and tried again (this time) with her pinky finger.
The doctor took a step back and began sketching on a piece of paper (this made me a li'l nervous, to say the least). She drew a diagram of the vagina and the opening of the hymen and explained to me that the reason I was unable to insert even the smallest of tampons was because I have something called a micro perforated hymen. This means that the opening of my hymen is present, but too small for even a pinky finger to get through. Hearing this news at first was really devastating, I felt like a total FREAK.
Thoughts raced through my mind: Would I ever be able to be intimate with someone without it being impossible or painful? Would I never be able to insert tampons for the rest of my life?
Reading the panic on my face, the gyno explained that I had several options. First, she could try to stretch out the size right there in the office. Hah, my answer was no before she could even finish her sentence. Second, over the next few months I could try to slowly stretch the hole myself with lube and my fingers (um, ew). That option didn’t sound so practical to me. I couldn’t even insert my pinky finger, so how could I think about trying that? The last option she gave was surgery (I know, sounds drastic, right?).
Turns out, the surgery (aka hymenectomy) is actually pretty minor. This would involve cutting the opening of my hymen a little to give me a normal size hole. After the appointment, my mom and I decided to wait a little bit before jumping into surgery. I am sixteen right now, so when I feel completely ready, I think I may go the surgery route in the upcoming year or so. For now, I am doing everything and anything I can to try and stretch it out on my own to prevent going under the knife.
Even though the past six months were filled with a lot of awkward and frustrating moments, in the end I’m really glad I had the guts to confront my mom about the issue I was having and see a doctor. Plus, it’s better knowing what exactly is going on with your body than googling incorrect info and keeping silent (right?).
Trouble with tampons? Here are some tips:
- Don’t psych yourself out reading stuff online
The Internet is filled with lots of great and useful information but sometimes it’s just not accurate. It’s easy to get scared and misdiagnose yourself with something you actually don’t have.
- Talk to your mom or a trusted female friend.
As awkward as it is to talk to mom, she has gone through all the same or similar experiences you are going through. If you can’t talk to your mom, try a close female relative, or even friend that you trust.
- Pay your doc a visit.
The best opinion is always a professional medical one. Yes, going to the gyno was totally awkward. But it was worth it. Remember, doctors are professionals and have seen thousands of vaginas over the years. It’s their job to tell you what’s up down there!