Dear DOLLY DR,
This is so embarrassing, but when I use a tampon I get this pain in my stomach and it doesn't go away until I take it out. I try all sorts of things like pushing it up further and sometimes when that doesn't work I even pull it down, but I just can't wear them any more 'cause it happens every time and I'm scared they are doing me damage! How can I wear them without them hurting me?
Anonymous. It's very common for young women to experience discomfort when first using tampons. But don't panic, because it really is possible with just a little practice and patience. First of all, wearing a tampon will not cause pain in the stomach, so the fact that you are having trouble suggests that it's not sitting in the right place. A tampon should always be inserted up, and back towards your spine, as far as possible. You should pull the string, but not the tampon, back down again. If you feel pain or discomfort it's a sign that it's not in all the way up or that's it's tilted and on an angle, which means you might need to try again (pull it down slightly then push it up straight again).
The best way to practice is to get some mini tampons and cover them with a bit of Vaseline or lubricant when you don't have a period. Slip them all the way up and get a good feel with your fingers as to the direction your vagina goes. Finally, don't worry about damage — the vagina is a very strong, elastic, muscular tube. If a baby can be born without too much difficulty then inserting tampons a few times, even if crooked, won't do any harm. Just remember to practise common sense hygiene — wash your hands before and after, and once you do get the hang of them, don't leave them in for more than about four hours at a time.