Sudden Difficulty Inserting Tampons

Sudden Difficulty Inserting Tampons: Is It Secondary Vaginismus?

You may be concerned about the sudden pain or sudden difficulty inserting tampons after being able to use them just fine beforehand.  Let’s explore the different possible reasons and causes for such so you can better understand the situation and take needed action.

How Tampon Pain May Feel to You

Each woman will feel tampon pain or discomfort in her own way; it is quite a subjective sensation.  However, there are common descriptions that unify them all:

  • A catchy feeling, as if the tampon is struggling to slide in;
  • Pressure or fullness;
  • Feels like sitting on a pencil edge;
  • Cramping;
  • Feels like hitting a wall;
  • Itching or irritation.

What Can Cause Pain and Discomfort When Inserting a Tampon?

A variety of factors may cause pain or discomfort when inserting a tampon, including

  • Vaginal dryness;
  • Pushing the tampon in too deep;
  • Not inserting the tampon deep enough past the vaginal opening;
  • Irritation or allergy;
  • Vaginismus, primary or secondary;
  • Vaginal infection (yeast, bacterial vaginosis, sexually transmitted infection);
  • Endometriosis;
  • Uterine fibroids;
  • Psychological reasons, stress, anxiety.

Why Do I Have Sudden Difficulty Inserting Tampons?

To have been able to use tampons without an issue suddenly experience pain or discomfort doing the same, you need to explore what has changed in your life and health status that may have contributed to such a drastic change.


  • Was there a physical change such as infection, hormonal fluctuation, or new medication with a drying effect?  Did you just take a bath or sat in a hot tub that may have caused vaginal dryness?
  • Have you been more stressful or experienced a distressing event that triggered an underlying anxiety or panic disorder?
  • Is your intimate relationship in a state of crisis?
  • Did you experience a recent traumatic event that shut down your vaginal comfort?
  • Did someone give you false, scary information about the safety of tampons, which made you too nervous to keep using them?
  • Have you also been experiencing pain or discomfort with intercourse?

Secondary Vaginismus May Be the Culprit

Vaginismus is the inability or great difficulty with vaginal penetrations.  Secondary vaginismus is a result of a life’s event that makes the woman lose the ability to use her vagina in a pain-free manner.  When this happens, tampon insertion may also become painful or impossible.

Why Does It Feel Like My Tampon Is Hitting a Wall?

The feeling of ‘hitting a wall’ is common to vaginismus, when the underlying anxiety causes the muscles of the vaginal opening to squeeze close and make penetration feel like hitting a wall, or a barrier.  It is a reactionary sensation, not a structural barrier.

Endometriosis May Also Be the Culprit

Endometriosis is a condition in which endometrial-like tissue (tissue that lines the inside of the uterus) grows outside of the uterus where it does not belong.  Endometriosis affects the surrounding tissues and organs, causing severe pelvic pain, menstrual ramping, voiding pains, and infertility.  Endometriosis can also affect tampon insertion and sexual intercourse.

Tips From an Expert For Overcoming Pain During Tampon Insertion

So what can you do to restore a comfortable tampon insertion?  Well, that depends on the cause of the breakdown.  Assuming it was nothing requiring immediate medical intervention, the following are tips for easing tampon insertion:

  • Never use scented tampons!
  • Relax any tension, take a couple of deep breaths;
  • Experiment to find the most comfortable position for insertion: squatting, standing, putting one foot on the toilet seat, or seating on toilet and leaning sideways;
  • Be sure to lubricate the tip of the tampon for easier insertion (and removal).  Watch this video;
  • Follow the direction of the vagina, don’t force it, and don’t aim sideways;
  • A tampon with an applicator is always easier to insert;
  • Stay hydrated!  Dehydration affects the vagina too, not only your hands and eyes and nose…

Seeing a Doctor or Seeking Help for Painful Tampon Insertion

If you are experiencing consistent difficulty or pain during tampon insertion, be sure to consult with your healthcare provider for proper diagnosis and treatment recommendations. If you don’t have access to a healthcare provider to help you navigate this issue and need virtual help, feel free to contact us to schedule an appointment. In the meantime, use alternative menstrual products that do not cause you any symptoms.

About The Author

Dr. Ditza Katz

Ditza Katz, PT, Ph.D., is the founder of Women’s Therapy Center, a practice specializing in urogynecologic rehabilitation, treatment of female sexual dysfunction, breast & female cancer rehabilitation, and management of somatic disorders. Dr. Katz holds an undergraduate degree in Physical Therapy, a Master’s degree in Pastoral Psychology & Counseling, a doctorate in Clinical Sexology, and clinical training in manual therapy and urogynecology. Dr. Katz is a Diplomate with the American Board of Sexology, Professor at the American Academy of Clinical Sexology located in Orlando, Florida, and the only physical therapist in the USA who is a clinical sexologist.

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