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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.

  5. What if u have a retained tampon, discovered by characteristic odor and have an IUD in place? Once removed would you automatically do antibiotics ? Also do you need to remove the IUD?

  6. What if u have a retained tampon, discovered by characteristic odor and have an IUD in place? Once removed would you automatically do antibiotics ? Also do you need to remove the IUD?

  7. In most cases a retained tampon will not cause infection. If you have pain, discharge, bleeding, odor that is abnormal, you should see a gynecologist to determine if a retained tampon caused an infection. Women with IUDs and treatable infections do not have to have the IUD removed in most cases, but your health care provider will have to determine if this will need to be removed.

  8. I had this happen last week. doctor suspected a lost tampon may be the cause of my symptoms but I wasn't sure if there was one. She almost didn't find it and stopped looking. Saw it way back in there at the last second. I had a pretty nasty infection accompanied with all the symptoms, fever, back and abdominal pain, sore throat, fatigue, urinary issues and discharge. They gave me a shot at the hospital and put me on 2 100mg dycocycline per day and my infection was gone 2 days later.

  9. Pelvic infections, even those caused by a retained tampon, can scar the fallopian tubes and the result of that scaring can be tubal pregnancies, chronic pain, or infertility. So in general, if an infection is even suspected the physicians generally recommend antibiotic treatment. Without an infection present, it may be reasonable to do testing and observation before treating with an antibiotic.

  10. I recently took out a lost tampon but I am still bleeding a little and it has been the 9th day of my period. The tampon was in there for 2 days. This is not normal because my period usually lasts 4-6 days. What is happening and what should I do?

  11. Women who find a retained tampon and still have unusual odor, bleeding, pain, fever, or discharge should consult a gynecologist.


Thank you for your comments and questions. This blog is not intended to replace medical care, but is informational only. We hope you will become a follower or visit Womens Health Practice. We offer a variety of unique services including MonaLisa Touch, Coolsculpting, Labiaplasty, and Gynecoloigic Clinical Research Trials. For more information on menopause see http://www.amazon.com/Menopause-Make-Peace-Change

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