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Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Forgotten Tampons

I had an interesting discussion with a group of women about female reproductive issues a few weeks, ago.   We ended up on the subject of menstrual periods and tampons.  There were a few women in the group who said that they weren’t comfortable using tampons or inserting foreign objects into their vagina.   Most of the women, including myself feel totally comfortable using them on a regular basis. 

Well, one of the women works at an OB/GYN doctor’s office and she said that there are a lot of patients coming through her office who forget that they are even wearing a tampon.  The patients span diverse backgrounds from young to middle-aged, Black, White, Hispanic, etc.  I was surprised to learn this, since it has never happened to me.  I doubt think that it ever will.

I guess every woman’s experience with tampons is unique to their own body.  From my perspective, I can’t understand how a woman would forget that she is wearing a tampon.  My menstrual cycles tend to be really heavy in the beginning days.  So, I use super absorbency tampons for the first days, in combination with sanitary pads to catch any overflow.  During the last few days of my period I wear only a pad for light days. 

I don’t mean to sound graphic but during those heavy days of bleeding, I can actually feel the tampon beginning to slip out when the time comes for it to be removed.  Tampons are designed to absorb the menstrual blood and expand.   Many women will realize when it is time for it to be removed because there may be a mild discomfort or overflow of blood.  A single tampon is not meant to be used for long periods, beyond 8 hours.  They should be removed after a few hours or when the maximum absorbency is reached. 

There is a string on the end of the tampons to allow it to be pulled out easily.  The OB/GYN employee said that sometimes, the string either breaks off the tampon.  There might be cases where the string gets pushed up inside the vagina, or the entire tampon may get pushed deep up in the vagina near the cervix.  Some women aren’t able to reach the string on their own, so that they may need the help of a gynecologist in order to remove it.   That’s pretty scary. 

I figured that the only way that someone could forget that they are wearing a tampon is if they are inebriated or physically ill.  My friend countered that by telling me that most of the times that is not the case.  There could be numerous reasons how this could happen including stressful times or a very hectic schedule.

My friend said that when patients come into their office with this problem, they know right away just from the smell that fills the atmosphere in the examination room.  Once the tampon is pulled out of the vagina, the tampon is either black or greyish colored. There are women who go through more than one menstrual cycle without knowing that they have forgotten a tampon in their vagina. Can you imagine all of that build up on top of ejaculated semen?  It makes for a pretty strong cocktail of funk. That’s pretty embarrassing and gross.

Some of the women have sex while the tampon is present or they insert another tampon on top of the old tampon without realizing it!  I’m not trying to put anyone down here. But, how could the woman’s sex partner not know that something doesn’t feel right.  Wouldn’t that tampon cause excess friction and discomfort during intercourse?  Wouldn’t he notice the distinctive “rotting corpse” smell coming from the vagina?  

It seems that the smell of having a lost tampon in the vagina should be a huge signal that something is wrong.  My friend did say that the smell is one of the main reasons why the patient might choose to come in and find out what is wrong.  Other symptoms might include unusually discolored vaginal discharge, fever and abdominal pain.  

These women are fortunate if they don’t get Toxic Shock Syndrome.  This is a disease that is caused by the multiplication of Staphylococcus Aureus in the vagina and it could lead to other more serious conditions and even death, when not treated promptly.  Most of the times the patient is given a course of antibiotics in order to reduce the risk of bacterial infection.

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