Maybe stick to pads instead.
Getting your period is pretty gross, from how it gets in the way of having sex to how it impacts our everyday life. It's messy, it's crampy, and it seems impossible that we'd ever make it worse than it has to be.
But there are some people out there who don't change their tampon enough. And besides that being nasty, it's also super-dangerous. So, how often should you change your tampon?
"One should never leave a tampon in too long (I suggest changing it after 2 to 4 hours) as it can lead to an overgrowth of bacteria which can lead to even more serious issues like TSS," says Dr. Yael Varando.
You probably know that, but do you know why?
"One of the contributing reasons is that when you insert a tampon, it changes your vagina’s natural 'ecosystem' including its pH levels. When in its natural tampon-free state, your vagina is actually quite acidic, and that ecosystem keeps bad bacteria at bay. In fact, your vagina even has 'good bacteria' in it already. Insert a tampon, and your fluid, good bacteria, and pH levels change," says Dr. Varando.
All women know how awful periods can feel, but don't put yourself in danger by forgetting to care for your vagina. Here's what happens if you forget to change your tampon.
1. Bacteria builds up.
Leave a tampon in too long and the changes can allow too much bad bacteria to grow, which can lead to moderate to severe health consequences. Once you do remove your tampon, the body slowly rebalances its pH levels and returns to normal.
2. Your doctor might have to surgically remove it.
Some for a half to a whole day, and believe it or not, it happens more often than you think.
"Should you suspect you have one there that needs help being retrieved, know that it happens often and your doctor will be more than happy to help you out if you can’t get it out yourself," says Dr. Varando.
3. Your vagina can become dry.
Think about it: tampons are made to be absorbent — that’s their job.
"They do their job well, which can also mean that they lead to vaginal dryness because they’re absorbing everything from your menstrual flow to your body’s natural lubrication," says Dr. Varando.
4. You could die.
"Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS) is a life-threatening bacterial infection that can progress very swiftly leading to death," says Dr. Ronald D Blatt, M.D., chief surgeon and medical director of the Manhattan Center for Vaginal Surgery and the Manhattan Centers for Women's Health. You do NOT want to lose your life all because you left your tampon in too long.
5. You may start to smell.
"You can get a watery brownish discharge with a foul odor," says Dr. Blatt.
6. It can get stuck or lost.
"The tampon can turn sideways and sit in the very back of your vagina. It can be hard to find," says Dr. Blatt. Also, if you forget and have sex with a tampon in, it gets pushed further into the vaginal canal and can be hard to find.
7. You will be in pain.
If it does get stuck? It can cause pain in the lower abdomen. So please, remember to change your tampon often. And if you think you'll forget to remove it, stick to pads.