Should I lube my tampon?
Words by Millie Smith
If you are struggling to use tampons, some lubrication may help. However, it is important to carefully consider which lubricant you use as your vagina is very sensitive and only certain products are appropriate.
Before you look to lubricate your tampon, first you should consider if you are using the right tampon for you. If you are just starting to use tampons, you might find it easier to start with mini tampons as they are smaller to insert. If you fear that a mini tampon will not absorb enough period blood, you can pair it with a liner or pad in case it is not absorbent enough.
You may be experiencing difficulty with tampons because you are not aware of the shape of the vaginal canal or you are not pushing your tampon far enough in. Unfortunately, how to use a tampon is not frequently taught as part of school health classes so many menstruators do not know how to correctly use a tampon. For instructions on how to use a tampon, check out this great video from Glamrs.
If you are afraid of losing your tampon, please know that it is not possible! There is only one way in and one way out for a tampon-sized item in your vagina so you cannot lose it. If your tampon strings ends up inside of you, you should still be able to find it although it might be a slightly uncomfortable retrieval process. If you cannot find your tampon, please consult your GP within 8 hours of inserting the tampon. If your tampon is not pushed in far enough, it can cause cramping and pain. You should insert your tampon in as far as you can until you cannot feel it at all when you squat, bend or sit.
If you are still struggling to insert tampons, some lubrication may help you out. It is important to only put products and liquids designed to work with your vagina inside of you.
So what shouldn’t I put on my tampon?
Despite being a popular old-fashioned lubricant, you should never use petroleum jelly as a lubricant on your tampon. Using petroleum jelly inside your vagina can increase your risk of contracting bacterial vaginosis by 2.2 times compared to those who do not use petroleum jelly internally (Brown et al. 2013). Bacterial vaginosis is a change in the bacteria in your vagina and is caused when there is more bad bacteria than good bacteria (Better Health 2020). Anyone with a vagina can get bacterial vaginosis, however, there are numerous factors that can increase your chance of getting it. These factors include the use of condoms, number of sexual partners and washing of the vagina. Creams and moisturisers should also be avoided as the ingredients in these products are not designed to interact with the sensitivity of your vagina.
Gotcha! So then what can I put on my tampon?
Products that are designed for internal use, such as water-based personal lubricant, can be used to lubricate your tampon. When lubricating tampons, use appropriate products sparingly so as to not inflate the size of the tampon as this will make the insertion more difficult.
If you have experienced discomfort with tampons before, you may want to try organic cotton tampons as they are free from harmful dioxins and chemicals that can increase the frequency and severity of period cramps.
- Brown, J, Hess, K, Brown, S, Murphy, C, Waldman, A, and Hezareh, M 2013, Intravaginal Practices and Risk of Bacterial Vaginosis and Candidiasis Infection Among a Cohort of Women in the United States, Obstetrics & Gynecology: April 2013, Vol. 121, no. 4, pp. 773-780.
- Better Health 2020, Bacterial vaginosis, Department of Health, State Government of Victoria, 15 June, <https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/bacterial-vaginosis>.