Sometimes condoms break and slip off during intercourse. Tampons and menstrual cups have also been known to be stubborn. And if you’ve ever had the unpleasant experience of getting something stuck in your vagina (or, maybe worse, in the other hole), rest assured, you are not alone. It is probably more common than you realize.
We all know there are certain objects that must go in there. There’s no way around it. We have periods, and we want to protect ourselves during sex, but when these objects become stuck and we aren’t able to remove them on our own, it can be incredibly scary.
SheKnows spoke with a few experts who can tell you exactly what to do (and what not to do) if this happens to you. Dr. Jennifer Wilder, who specializes in women’s health, says if you get something such as a tampon or condom stuck, you can safely try to get it out on your own.
“Squatting often helps, but do not insert any object into the vagina to try to retrieve it. It can do more harm than good. You can end up injuring yourself and/or causing an infection,” she adds.
Dr. Laura Hagopian is an emergency room physician who has seen her share of vaginal foreign bodies. First, she wants to assure you the object can’t get very far and says, “The vagina ends at the cervix (bottom of the uterus), so foreign bodies generally have nowhere to go but stay in the vaginal canal.” So, don’t worry — it can’t make its way through your body never to be found again. It will come out one way or another.
Hagopian says she usually sees women who come in because a condom has come off during intercourse and the patient can’t remove it. But she’s also seen small children who have put toys in their vagina or women who have inserted garlic cloves to try and fight off an infection.
“I’ve also seen patients who have multiple tampons in their vaginas,” she says. “Sometimes, they forget to take them out and add more in.”
What’s OK to put in your vagina — and what isn’t?
She advises you should never, ever put anything in your vagina that isn’t supposed to be there, such as fruits, vegetables and sharp or fragile objects.
Fingers, penises, sex toys, tampons or “medications that are given intravaginally,” Hagopian says are okay to go in there.
But Hagopian cautions that you should never try to remove a big broken object on your own because it could break and make the situation worse — let the experts handle it.
You should also know vaginal foreign bodies should never stay inside you longer than they have to, as they can cause infection, irritation and vaginal odor.
Most important, Wilder and Hagopian want you to remember that if something does happen to get stuck and you can’t remove it on your own, these doctors have seen it all and your doctor’s office is a no-shame zone! There is no need to delay a visit because you are embarrassed. Your health is much more important than your pride (not that the latter should be bruised by getting help!) — and medical professionals will not judge you or ask too many questions, but they will be able to remove it and give you any additional care you need without judgment.
A version of this story was published November 2017.
Before you go, check out 100 of these (totally vagina-safe) toys that you can put around, in and near your vulva: