What happens if I leave a tampon in for way too long?

What happens if I leave a tampon in for way too long?

Our expert: Dr. Sherry Ross

Sheryl A. Ross, M.D., “Dr. Sherry,” is an award-winning OBGYN, our go-to for pregnancy, postpartum, menopause and beyond. She’s practiced for 20+ years, recently won both a Top Ten OB/GYN & Patient’s Choice Award. She also has a line of custom vitamins made specially for women, Dr. Ross D3FY Vitamins.

I had a tampon shoved up in me and I have no idea for how long it was there. It, fell out last night, and that’s how I know about it. Are there any symptoms of anything that I need to look out for now? 

You would be surprised how common I see what is medically called a “lost tampon”! All of us are constantly multitasking and for some reason or another it is easily something you forget about.

Many times when it comes to a “lost tampon”, you will know that something is just not right down there. You may notice a watery brown discharge with a foul and pungent odor. It’s different than a yeast infection in that you would have itching and a thick cottage cheese-like vaginal discharge. It’s also different than a bacterial infection in that you may have a yellow or grey vaginal discharge and a fishy odor.

If you are fortunate enough to be able to find a “lost tampon” on your own, you are pretty lucky. Often a tampon that has been in far too long is turned sideways and sitting in the very back of your vagina. It can be hard to find! If you have found one and know it’s been over a week, you can go buy a water vinegar douche at your local CVS or other drugstore to clean out the vagina. This is the one time that vaginal douching is a good idea.

If you have any persistent vaginal discharge, itching, pelvic pain, rash or a fever you must see your health care provider. You might have heard about Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS) from your mom or an older sister. The good news is that TSS is very rare and is a complication of having a Staph bacterial infection. Symptoms of TSS can occur quickly and without warning. They include a fever, low blood pressure, vomiting, diarrhea, muscle aches and headaches. There are hallmark skin changes which include a characteristic rash mainly on your palms and soles resembling a sunburn. Swelling and ulcerations in mucous membranes such as your eyes, mouth and throat are also a possible skin change of TSS symptoms. If you notice any of these symptoms you should immediately see your health care provider.

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