Pain during tampon insertion an indicator for vaginismus?

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    This is something I’ve been thinking about lately.

    I’ve been in team “pads” my entire life, but lots of my friends experimented with tampons when I was in high school. I remember several of them told me they found tampons to be painful to insert and/or remove, and stopped using them because of this reason.

    Could pain during tampon usage be an indicator for vaginismus? Or am I jumping to conclusions too fast?


    Team pads here!! Hi! I’m 26 now, and I know plenty of women who don’t like tampons because they are uncomfortable or even painful. It doesn’t necessarily mean vaginismus. For some women it can be that the tissues of the vaginal wall is just very sensitive and tight while menstruating. It could also be because some women experience a bruising feeling inside the vagina while menstruating, or maybe even that the vagina is not well lubricated when inserting the tampon. And it could also be fear! Maybe they are just nervous about the tampon insertion, causing them to tense and tighten. If you, yourself, are trying to decide if you have vaginismus.. it is always best to get an opinion from your gyn! But you can also try a finger. Make sure your nails are cut and filed, and that your hands are clean and see how your body reacts to something more natural. Fingers can bend and curve, unlike a foreign object. They are also much softer! Use plenty of lube, too, if you try this! But I wouldn’t say pain from a tampon insertion directly means vaginismus. Unfortunately, our bodies are all very very different and take time to learn. Especially when we start exploring our vagina, and inside of our vagina. What works for some, won’t work for others. We’re all so very unique! And our bodies will love and hate many things. I really hope this helps!! 🙂

    mmHelen Leff, LCSW

    I’m so glad sammy2021 brought this up and love your response Heather ! At Maze, a lot of women who come to see us for painful penetration will say they had difficulty inserting a tampon when they were teenagers. Vaginismus lives on a continuum of pain and anxiety around pain, and difficulty with tampon use can be an indicator. Perhaps putting organic coconut oil on the tampon may make inserting it more comfortable. If it’s difficult or “impossible” to put something inside the vagina it’s a good idea to check things out with a sensitive medical provider. That said, wearing tampons, using a menstrual cup or choosing pads when you have your period are all good choices and of course choose what’s best for you.!


    Great answers from both Heather and Helen here! I had vaginismus (which was eventually treated at Maze) and I always struggled before that with tampons. I actually STILL have trouble with them even though I’m able to have pain-free sex at this point. Even though I can insert things I still don’t really enjoy tampons and find them fatiguing to wear, and especially since COVID-19 emerged and I was at home more, I just stick to pads because they’re easy and don’t really bother me. It’s probably worth looking into if you’re concerned about the pain, but a lot of this just don’t like tampons and will only use them when absolutely necessary!

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