If you’ve been wanting to use a tampon, but are too scared to try or don’t know where to start, we’re here to help! Here are the steps to follow when inserting a tampon.

This week on the blog, we’re talking about tampons. When I first got my period, I strictly used pads because the thought of inserting something into my body seemed scary and nearly impossible. When it’s your first time using a tampon, it’s not the easiest thing on the planet. However, once I learned how, it became super easy for me to insert and I realized I like tampons significantly more than pads.

I find tampons easier for a few reasons: they’re easier for me to wear with a thong, they make swimming on my period stress-free, and overall they feel more discreet than pads. However, this is a personal preference – if you don’t want to try tampons, no problem! If you try tampons and still prefer pads, there’s no problem with that either. There’s no ‘right’ answer when it comes to tampons vs. pads – both are perfectly safe.

It’s always good to have options. If you’ve been wanting to use a tampon, but are too scared to try or don’t know where to start, we’re here to help! Here are the instructions to follow when inserting a tampon.

1. Get comfortable

So how do you put in a tampon correctly? Before we get into it, let’s do a quick anatomy review.

Your urethra is where pee comes out. This hole is not where your tampon will be inserted, because this isn’t where your period blood comes from. This opening is too small to fit a tampon, so you don’t need to worry about inserting a tampon in the wrong spot by accident.

Next up, we have the anus. This is the opening where your poop comes out, in your butt. A tampon could fit in this hole, but should never be inserted there (important for first-time users). A tampon is inserted into your vaginal opening, which falls somewhere in the middle of your urethra and your anus. I recommend taking a mirror and having a look down there to find where the opening is.

Alternatively, you could use your finger or a tampon to feel around for where the hole is. This sounds gross and unpleasant but it’s not, it’s important to know your body! Knowing where your vaginal opening is will make it much easier to know where to put a tampon.

2. Wash your hands

Your hands are getting very up close and personal with a very sensitive part of your body. Do you want dirt and whatever other bacteria has accumulated on your hands to end up in your vagina? NO! Give your hands a good scrub and you’ll be ready to get to business.

3. Insert the tampon

Read the instructions that come with your box of tampons. Not all tampons are exactly the same, so it’s important to know how to use the applicator if you’re a beginner. There are different tampon sizes: regular, super, super plus. Each size holds a different amount of blood, with super plus holding the most.

If you have a heavy flow or plan on leaving your tampon in for a longer amount of time, you may want to use super or super plus sizes. However, I recommend starting with a regular tampon until you’re comfortable inserting it. It’s the most slender and will be the easiest to insert into your body. It’s the best option if you’re just learning!

Next, get into a comfortable position. Some people sit on the toilet with their knees apart, some squat down and some prop one leg on their toilet seat or bathtub. Try out different positions and see what feels most comfortable for you. Next, place the end of the tampon applicator into your vaginal opening. You may need to use one hand to pull apart the lips of your vagina – the labia. But, if you followed step #1, you already know where your vaginal opening is.

Slide the outer tube of the tampon into your vagina until your fingers touch your body. The grip and the inner tube should still be outside the body. Refer to the image below if you’re not sure what the outer tube, grip and inner tube of the applicator is. You want the string to be facing away from your body, not towards you – the tampon and applicator should be held at a 45 degree angle.

Once you feel the tampon is comfortably positioned, hold the grip and push the tampon inside your body using the inner tube of the applicator. Once you’ve pushed the inner tube in the whole way, you can pull away the plastic part and voila! Tampon inserted.

4. Make sure you don’t feel any discomfort

Do tampons hurt? If the tampon isn’t inserted far enough into your vagina, you might feel a little discomfort, especially when you sit. But when a tampon is properly inserted, you shouldn’t notice it at all. If you’re finding it feels uncomfortable, you may need to insert the outer tube of the applicator further into your vagina before pushing in the tampon. However, always make sure the tampon string is always outside your body, as this is what allows you to remove the tampon.

5. Changing your tampon

Next: tampon removal. You should aim to change your tampon every 4-8 hours. I personally change my tampon every time I pee, however you can pee with a tampon in – this comes down to personal preference.

When you’re ready to remove your tampon, get into the same position you found comfortable when inserting the tampon. Relax your muscles – removing the tampon will not hurt, so don’t be scared! Pull on the string of your tampon to remove it, and toss it in the garbage. They should not be flushed down the toilet as it’s bad for your plumbing and the environment.

Keep in mind, you might not get this right on your first try. We were all beginners once. For some it works on the first try, but for others it can take some trial and error. It took me a few months before I really got comfortable using tampons. If you’re having trouble, talk to a parent or trusted adult and ask them for help. There’s no shame in needing a little assistance when you first start using tampons!