Friday, March 25, 2011

Retained Tampon

Loosing a tampon in the vagina is not as absurd as it sounds. It really is a matter of accidentally not removing one you've put there.Maybe it got to be a late day of your period, or you changed during the night, and sleepiness took over. Tampons are designed to absorb a lot of moisture, although not as much as they actually used to absorb, and it's often not apparent for a long time that something is a bit amiss. In general the patients we see have no actual pain, and often they don't have much discharge, but complain most dramatically of odor. Occasionally there is a significant amount of discharge. The discharge usually turns dark brown, it can even be black. Actually our ability to normalize the bacteria in the vagina is so great that many physicians will just treat with removing the 'lost' or 'forgotten' tampon and often antibiotics aren't necessary unless the odor and discharge doesn't resolve for a few days. Serious side effects such as Toxic Shock Syndrome are very uncommon, and if no fever or pain this is highly unlikely to be the result even from a very long retained tampon.It's important to have your gyno do a vaginal exam if you suspect a retained tampon, as it is not always possible to detect it or remove it yourself.


  1. Does this normally resolve itself with removal? I discovered and removed a retained tampon today that may have been in place for several days. The on-call doc seemed to think infection was unlikely to be an issue. It seems rather hard to believe.

  2. If a woman discovers a retained tampon herself and removes it, she does not necessarily have to do anything more than that. Even if the retained tampon had been in place for several days, there is not likely to be an infection. If at first you discover a slight odor the ability of the vagina to normalize the bacteria that live in the healthy ecosystem of that environment is very good and likely to just right itself. For those who have pain, irritation, persistent discharge, they should see their physician.

  3. If a physician does a pelvic exam and checks the cervix and see no tampon is that accurate or could they have missed seeing or feeling it?

  4. It is unlikely for experienced gynecologist to miss a tampon on exam, but of course it would be possible.


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