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Questions About PMS and Using Tampons

Published: June 21, 2017
Dear TeenHealthFX,
Usually a few days before I menstruate, I'll get sharp vaginal pain. It's been happening for a few months. Sometimes, I'll get pains at the beginning of my vaginal opening. Are these two things PMS? Also, When I'm on my period and put in a tampon, there's discomfort around it until it's fully put in. I asked my friends if they feel discomfort when they do it, and they all said no. I know for sure that I am putting it up right. I haven't gone to a gynecologist (but I will hopefully soon). I don't know if this matters, but ovarian cysts and I believe endometriosis are common in my family. Should I be worried or is this normal?
Signed: Questions About PMS and Using Tampons

Dear Questions About PMS and Using Tampons,

TeenHealthFX appreciates you taking concern for your health and well-being. It is important to remember that every woman’s body is different, and thus, the symptoms you experience during your menstrual cycle will differ from your neighbor.

FX would like to begin by explaining that it is common to experience pain before/during menstruation. Dysmenorrhea is defined as “throbbing or cramping pains in the lower abdomen.” Although this pain occurs in the abdomen, it can be felt in the vagina. Dysmenorrhea is often referred to as "menstrual cramps," and is experienced more severely in certain women than others.

In certain cases, however, menstrual pain can be a symptom of endometriosis and/or ovarian cysts. Although your family history indicates presence of these conditions, you are not guaranteed to develop either of these conditions. Since the pain you are experiencing has been recurring over several months, FX recommends you schedule an appointment with your primary care physician, gynecologist, or an adolescent medicine specialist. He/she can perform a pelvic exam to determine whether you're suffering from one of these conditions, and determine if further action is necessary.

To continue, FX appreciates your concern in regards to inserting tampons. This can be difficult for a variety of reasons. For some young women it’s a matter of understanding how to correctly insert a tampon and practicing. For others, anxiety about using tampons causes muscles to tighten and makes insertion more difficult. And some women are born with a very small opening in the hymen which can prevent tampons from being inserted. This is true for only about 2% of teens, but it can be a problem.

TeenHealthFX recommends you start with the following:

  • Use a “slender” size tampon
  • Try using a tampon when your menstrual flow is medium to heavy as this will allow the tampon to glide in more easily
  • Try to relax, which will also make insertion easier
  • Make sure that you know the correct way to insert a tampon 

 

Keep in mind that it may simply take some time experimenting with different feminine hygiene products to determine which works best for you. Some girls choose to use only pads instead of tampons. Finding a product you feel most comfortable using will help ease your emotions.

If after all of this you are still having trouble inserting a tampon, then FX recommends you schedule an appointment with your primary care physician, gynecologist, or an adolescent medicine specialist. Your doctor can help to determine what exactly is preventing you from using tampons.

If you don't have a doctor and live in northern New Jersey, you can call the Adolescent/Young Adult Center for Health at 973-971-5199 for an appointment with an adolescent medicine specialist or contact your local teen health center or Planned Parenthood. You can also contact your insurance company for a list of in-network providers.

Signed: TeenHealthFX

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