How to: The Beginner’s Guide to Tampons

Whether you’re new to tampons or new to periods in general, using a tampon for the first time can seem kind of scary. It gets easier with practice, just like riding a bike- pinky swear. In this article, you’ll get some tips and tricks on how to insert a tampon in four easy steps.

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Step 1

First, you’re going to need a tampon. There are two general types: those with applicators, and those without.

Types of Tampons

Applicators help facilitate tampon insertion while keeping your fingers from getting as much blood on them. They are generally made from plastic or cardboard.

The interior component of this type of tampon is the same as the entirety of tampons without applicators. They are both typically made of compressed cotton with strings attached to make removal easier and less messy.

Step 2

Regardless of which type of tampon you prefer, inserting them involves preparing your body the same way.

As far as body position goes, some prefer to insert tampons while sitting on the toilet due to the angle, while others prefer standing. Figuring out what works best for you may involve some experimentation since all vaginas are unique.

Part your outer labia with two fingers- generally using your non-dominant hand for this part is easiest.

If your inner labia are also blocking your vagina, you can spread those, too. This is mostly a matter of preventing anything from pinching or pulling, which isn’t common per se, but mistakes have been made.

Step 3

Position the tampon angled upwards and backward, pointing roughly towards your tailbone. This is a general recommendation because vaginas come in a variety of shapes and angles.

Start with aiming more or less towards your tailbone and adjust the angle as needed, following the natural trajectory of your vagina.

Step 4

This is where the paths diverge depending upon whether or not your tampon has an applicator.

Tampons with Applicators

For tampons with applicators, you should secure the tampon with at least two fingers on the grip ridges of the applicator. Then gently, but firmly push the tampon into your vagina until the grippy part of the applicator meets the vaginal opening.

Be mindful of the string at this stage. While tampons cannot get lost in the body, the string can sometimes get caught in the applicator and make disengaging it difficult. Just holding the string between two fingers or pinching it to the tip of the applicator can keep it aside.

Next, push the plunger until the cotton portion of the tampon is fully inserted. The tampon has been fully inserted and detached from the applicator if it doesn’t budge when you release the string and gently remove the applicator.

Tampons without Applicators

Keeping the string secured, push the tampon gently, but firmly into your vagina. You should typically insert it about twice the length of the cotton portion itself.

Regardless of which type of tampon you choose, you should not feel any discomfort once the applicator has been removed.


It’s okay if you don’t nail this on the first try. For the most part, inserting tampons is one of those lived experience lessons where you learn from your successes and mistakes. However, if you can learn from others’ mistakes, you may find these troubleshooting tips for pain and placement helpful in figuring out where the process went awry.

How Far is Far Enough?

One of the most common mistakes new tampon users make is not inserting the tampon far enough. Remember, you can’t insert it so far that it gets lost inside your body. When in doubt, push it back further rather than erring on the side of stopping short.

Tampons that haven’t been inserted far enough back in the vaginal canal can press against the pubic bone. This pressure can cause slight pain in general that tends to be sharper or stronger when sitting down. That is because the tampon effectively gets wedged between your pubic bone and seat while you sit.

You can test out whether you inserted the tampon far enough by sitting down until your legs form a lap. If you feel discomfort in that position, you may want to insert the tampon further.

If you still experience discomfort after trying these tips and consulting trusted older women in your life, you may want to talk to your doctor about dyspareunia.

Dyspareunia is a common issue experienced by people with vaginas and refers to vaginal pain experienced before, during, or after sex. It can also cause pain when tampons are inserted.

The good news is that if you do experience dyspareunia, talking to a doctor about it can help improve your quality of everyday life- including the ability to use tampons.


Using tampons for the first time can involve a little bit of the scientific method since vaginas are each slightly different from the next. Try the tips you picked up today and listen to your body. Troubleshoot if anything feels uncomfortable and give it another go. You’ve got this!

Interesting related article: “What is Health?