19 Women Reveal The Most Horrible Experiences They've Had With Tampons

by Alexia LaFata

Depending on how old you are, tampons are either your best friend or your worst nightmare.

At 14, I wouldn't dare look at my vagina, let alone stick something that frightening inside of it (cue dick jokes here). But now, at the ripe age of 21 going on 22, I'll shove one up there as far as my hand will let me go.

Hell, I don't even need the smooth, pearly kind -- cardboard will do just fine. Give me one made of burlap if you want to challenge me. I'm fearless.

This eight-year process of learning to love tampons didn't come without its setbacks, as every woman has had an experience with a tampon that made her question why she ever decided to make the permanent switch from pads in the first place (because we all know that once the switch is made, it's permanent).

For example, my biggest setback happened in college. I was sitting in my dorm room the morning after having hooked up with someone the night before when I realized I didn't know where the f*ck my tampon from yesterday was.

Panic infused the very depths of my soul, because either that motherf*cker was lodged way, way up in my goddamn uterus and threatening me with TSS, or it fell out and was patiently waiting to be discovered in that guy's bed and wreak havoc on his life. I didn't know which option was worse.

Immediately, I screamed for my roommate, who was pre-med and therefore way more equipped to handle medical crises than I was, and hurried to the bathroom.

Then, as thoughts of blood-soaked wads of cotton strewn across my crush's lightly-colored sheets plagued my greatest, wildest, most unimaginable fears, I pried open my vagina and searched for the light -- but, to my utter, utter dismay, to no avail.

In a fit of hysteria, I Ubered to the hospital, figuring a hospital visit was a less humiliating way to determine the tampon's whereabouts than a "Hey, have you seen something that vaguely resembles a dead rabbit foot in your bed? Lmk." text.

In the exam room, a doctor propped my legs up on stirrups, did some excavating with tools that looked like pliers from a funhouse, and came to the conclusion that, yes, that tampon was indeed lodged inside my uterus, and I would have never been able to get it out on my own because of how deeply it had plunged and how tightly the string had wrapped itself around the cotton.

It was traumatizing. I was traumatized. To be honest, I still am. And so is my dad probably, because he was billed $900 for the ordeal.

But I beat on, a boat against the current. As did everyone else below, who also have horrifying tampon experiences.

Maybe she should pull out her nature sounds CD next time.

I used to be afraid of tampons and needed to play the song "Landslide" by the Dixie Chicks to relax enough to take one out.

-- Tracy*

Motion to continue calling tampons "death sticks."

My best friend at the time used to call tampon "death sticks" because the "plastic could poke you and you wouldn't even know it because it's inside of you" (we were, like, 11) but out of sheer fear I steered clear of them for years. Too bad you actually don't keep the plastic inside of you, so her warning was total bull.

-- Kylie

No, it was definitely a mouse.

When I was about five, before I knew about periods, I had a dance recital at a local high school. I went into a bathroom stall to change into my costume and came face-to-face with what appeared to be a dead mouse wrapped in a piece of toilet paper sitting on the toilet paper dispenser. I freaked out and ran out of the stall without changing, screaming about the "mouse," which caused the other girls to crowd around the stall trying to see it and mothers, who knew what it was, trying to usher us away. Later, a rumor spread that it wasn't even a mouse; it was just its blood, with the tail. It wasn't until I was 14 or 15 that I looked back on the incident and realized that it was a used tampon that someone hadn't thrown away, which just brought a whole new level of horror to the story.

-- Allison

Because anything having to do with a vagina equals pregnancy.

I saw a tampon on the floor of the middle school bathroom and went and told everyone at the lunch table someone took a pregnancy test in the bathroom.

-- Lydia

There's nothing scarier than peeing.

I have no idea how this is possible, but I didn't use tampons until my sophomore year of college. My fear was about how to use it and peeing on the string. I had a healthy debate with my dorm-mates and they talked me into it.

-- Carly*

This is something out of a Judy Blume novel.

I went to a boarding school, which basically means all us girls had to teach each other about puberty (in lieu of moms). My friend Kate* was a diver but would skip diving practice once a month because she said tampons "really, really hurt." We eventually figured out it's because she was inserting the cardboard applicator along with the tampon every time... yikes. In our dorm bathroom, three of us stood outside a stall and coached Kate through her first proper tampon insertion, during which Kate said, "Ohhhh. Yeah, this makes WAY more sense." Poor diver Kate.

-- Valerie*

Yes, there's more than one hole down there.

This isn't my own story, but one of the women I worked with at the restaurant this summer was talking about how she does everything in front of her 3-year-old daughter, including showering and, yes, changing her tampon. She says she's doing this because no one ever told her how to use a tampon, so the first time she couple times she used one, she left the cardboard applicator in. But that's not the worst. The first time her sister used one, she stuck it up her butthole.

-- Emily

This is one of the few times she'll spread her legs for her health.

I got my period when I was 9 years old. I was always scared to use a tampon, especially since I was so young. When I turned 11, my mom decided it was time for me to start using them. While we were on vacation in Mexico, she put down towels, I lay down, and she started trying to help me shove in a tampon. As this was happening, my entire family walked in and saw my legs wide open as my mom and I tried fitting a tampon in there. I'm scarred and still to this day, I cannot use a tampon.

-- Theresa

Everyone could use a little feminism.

I read the instructions and saw that the tampon should be kept at a 180 degree angle, so I laid the tampon flat and put it in between my (for lack of better word) lips. I ended up bleeding everywhere on my chair at school. One of my classmates yelled at the male teacher to turn around and she took me to the bathroom to help clean me up. It was the most female solidarity I had ever felt.

-- Kaitlyn

She hasn't been the same since.

One night after getting wasted, I came home and drunkenly took out my tampon. Three days later, while visiting my sister in Buffalo, I felt insanely nauseated and thought I was going to pass out. While trying to root my symptoms with my sister, I couldn't visually remember taking the tampon out. Of course I was too drunk to remember and was a bit in disbelief, but my sister forced me into the bathroom and told me to "finger it out" and check. Not expecting to find anything, and pulling out something was beyond horrifying. Life scarring, if you will. This was the first time I experienced being physically paralyzed by fear.

-- Jackie*


My friend in middle school put a tampon in and left it up there with the applicator still on.

-- Molly*

This is every woman's worst nightmare.

I got my period in HS during track practice, so I rushed to the locker room to insert the tampon I had on standby in my book bag (because clearly I was waiting my whole life for this moment). But apparently, I didn't stick it in far enough because the stupid thing slipped out while I was running and everyone saw it roll across the lanes.

-- Heather*

At least she didn't drunk-eat a whole pizza.

One time, I was so drunk I straight-up forgot to put a tampon in before bed.

-- Elizabeth

Sure, she might feel betrayed, but at least she's not dead.

My mom told me never to sleep with a tampon in because I would die. So, I wore pads to bed until I was 15 and one my friends said my mom was on crack for saying that. I felt so betrayed.

-- Gigi

Once you go Tampax Pearl, you never go back.

After my mom found out I had gotten my period (I was so embarrassed I hid it from everyone for like six months), she gave me one of those horrible cardboard applicator Tampax without telling me how to use it. I stared at it for a while, accidentally pushed it out of its applicator, tried to shove it back in and then attempted to use it. The trouble was I had no idea how or where to even insert it. (I have one hole? Two holes? What? I was 11 and seriously had no clue.) I ended up just pushing it against the outside of my vagina for 10 minutes until it hung half-way inside of me. I took it out, and I didn't use one again until my super cool, mature middle school friend gave me a *~Tampax Pearl~*.

-- Aly

Mother knows best.

First period happened at summer camp. We were on a day trip panning for petrified wood in a river and I was wearing a reversible swimsuit, which I shortly after threw away. When I returned from the trip, I ripped my older sis (who was a counselor there) out of the cafeteria and demanded she help me. She insisted that I use tampons NOT pads, and coached me through the door of the tiny wooden outhouse I was in, on how to properly insert the tampon. It became a little screaming fight between the two of us because I just wanted to use a pad. It did not work, and I didn't learn how to use one of those cool tampon things until fours years later.... with help from my mom...

-- Rebecca

All the cool kids were doing it.

I used to ask girls for tampons in middle school. I didn't get my period till I was 17. I just wanted to fit in! #LateBloomer

-- Kayla

How did she swim with that thing?

When I was in middle school, I heard a horror story about one of the girl's in my grade getting her tampon stuck up her vagina and her dad having to take it out for her. My 13-year-old self vowed from that moment forward that I would be wearing pads for life. A couple of years later, I went to the beach with my first boyfriend and his family. I figured that this, apparently, was the right time to try out a tampon. I waited until I was in a Jones Beach bathroom and put it in about halfway because I was so scared. When I got onto the beach, I started freaking out that maybe the tampon would leak in the water and a shark would find me. I switched back to a pad about three minutes later.

-- Jessica*

If you thought only babies wore diapers, you were wrong.

The first time I got my period, I was 13 and it was the day before we were going on a school trip to Europe. The morning of the trip, my mom gave me a pad that was the size of my whole torso and I sat on the plane for the whole six+ hours trying not to move because I didn't want to leak (I didn't understand the whole absorbency concept of pads obviously). When I got off the plane, not only were my legs incredibly stiff from the lack of movement, but I also looked like I was wearing a giant diaper because of the size of the pad walking around with about 40 girls who would soon be my high school classmates (aka the most embarrassing day of my 13th year). As soon as we got back to the US, I vowed to never wear a pad again.

-- Corina

*Name has been changed.