If you’re a tampon-wearer, it may feel like you’ve been using these convenient cotton contraptions for, well, eons. Yet even after all these years, you may still have random questions about them—including how and why they work. (Don’t be embarrassed: We’ve all had these thoughts. Plus, reproductive health still isn’t talked about enough, so it’s no wonder we have questions!)

Sure, you can Google these questions when you have them, but you may have to do some digging to separate fact from fiction. And even without the internet, who hasn’t heard a myth or two about tampons over the course of their life—like it’ll stretch out your vagina, break your hymen, or make you a non-virgin? (These are all false, BTW.)

One major question is whether or not it’s okay to poop with a tampon in. To get to the bottom of this (valid) query, we tapped an OB/GYN to share whether you can poop and pee with a tampon in. Read on for the answer, along with the best hygiene tips to keep things fresh “down there” if you’re a tampon-wearer.

Can you poop with a tampon in?

You heard it here: It’s totally safe to empty your bowels while wearing a tampon. “The main concerns are hygiene and comfort rather than medical safety,” says Stephanie Hack, MD, FACOG, a board-certified OB/GYN and founder of Lady Parts Doctor.

That means, as long as you don’t feel pain, you’re free to go number two as you please. The remaining concern, though, is your hygiene. If your tampon string gets contaminated with poop, you can “transfer bacteria from the rectal area to the vaginal or urethral areas, which could potentially lead to infections,” says Dr. Hack. Bacteria like E. coli, for example, which can be found in stool, can cause a urinary tract infection (UTI).

Can your tampon ever fall out when you poop? It’s rare for your tampon to completely fall out when you poop, but there’s still a chance it can get slightly dislodged when you strain during a bowel movement. Basically, it’s possible to push your tampon out. This is largely due to anatomy, says Dr. Hack.

This happens because the vaginal and anal canals are more or less situated on top of each other, per the Cleveland Clinic1. So the force of pushing out your poop can also push out whatever’s in the neighboring canal, i.e., your tampon.

When this happens, it’s usually best to change your tampon, says Dr. Hack.

On a related note: Why does my period make me poop more?

If you feel like you’re pooping more than normal when Aunt Flo comes to town, you’re not imagining things. “Period poops” are real, and they can cause your tampon to feel a little dislodged if you’re straining often.

“Your period can affect your digestive system because of the release of prostaglandins,” says Dr. Hack. These hormone-like substances “help the uterus contract to shed its lining, but can also lead to increased bowel movements,” she explains.

Bottom line: Pooping more during your period is normal, and the amount/frequency you go will vary from person to person. This also means you’ll likely be pooping with a tampon more often, too.

Can you pee with a tampon in?

If you can do number two with a tampon in, you’re probably guessing that doing number one is okay, too. And you’re 100 percent correct. Thanks to your body’s natural design, peeing with a tampon in is possible.

“Because the urethra [where pee exits] and the vagina are separate, the tampon does not block the flow of urine,” says Dr. Hack. But because these holes are super close to each other, your exposed tampon string may get wet.

Unlike poop, pee getting on your tampon string “is more about personal comfort than health risks,” says Dr. Hack. While urine was once thought to be sterile (i.e., have no bacteria), current evidence suggests the microbiome of your bladder may be similar to that of your vagina, and may actually be protective of infection, per a March 2022 study in Frontiers in Cellular and Infection Microbiology.

That means, even if your string gets soaked, it won’t likely increase your risk of infection, per the Cleveland Clinic. You can simply pat it dry or even leave it alone if it doesn’t bother you, Dr. Hack says.

Hygiene tips for tampon-wearers

Though it’s generally safe to poop while wearing a tampon, taking a few precautions to be hygienic can help protect your genital health. Here are Dr. Hack’s restroom tips, so you can poop like a pro with a tampon in:

  • Wipe from front to back: This will help you avoid transferring bacteria from the rectal area to the urethra or vagina, which can cause an infection.
  • Hold the tampon string to the side when you poop (or pee): This will ensure that your string isn’t getting soiled with poop (or wet with urine).
  • Always use clean hands when handling a tampon: Don’t poop and then change your tampon right after. You don’t want bad bacteria from your butthole hitching a ride to your urethra or vagina. To be safe, it’s best to wash your hands before (and after) touching a tampon.

If in doubt, there’s no harm in just changing your tampon if that’s what makes you feel more comfortable.

The bottom line

It’s totally NBD to poop with a tampon in. Because there’s no medical reason not to, it’s really a matter of personal preference.

For cleanliness’ sake, though, it might be worth it to take a few simple precautions to prevent poop from getting on your string. Beyond that, consider this your green light to poop and pee as much as you need while wearing a tampon.


How many times can you pee with a tampon in?

Really, it’s up to you. “Changing your tampon more frequently when urinating (or defecating) is not necessarily required unless the tampon becomes soiled or dislodged,” says Dr. Hack. “The decision is more about personal hygiene preferences and ensuring the tampon is functioning correctly to absorb menstrual blood.”

So, as long as you’re physically comfortable, and you’re not wearing a tampon for more than eight hours, you’re golden to pee as many times as you want.

How do I know my tampon is full?

“If your tampon begins to feel uncomfortable or starts to leak, it might be time for a change,” says Dr. Hack. “A light tug on the string can also help; if the tampon starts to come out easily, it’s likely full.”

Just don’t leave in your tampon for more than eight hours. Wearing it longer than that can increase your risk of toxic shock syndrome (TSS)—a rare but serious condition that happens when certain strains of bacteria that produce toxins enter your bloodstream, according to the Cleveland Clinic3.

Being loosey-goosey about how long you leave a tampon in can also lead to other bacterial or yeast infections, as well as inflammation of your vulva (i.e., the outer part of your genitals, including your inner and outer labia and mons pubis, or the area where your pubes grow).

When your flow is heavy, your tampon will get soaked quickly, so changing it more frequently might be a good idea to avoid potential health concerns. (Your underwear will thank you, too.)

Can pulling out a dry tampon cause damage?

Sometimes tugging out a dry tampon when your flow is light can be downright uncomfortable. And in certain cases, it might even cause “minor damage to the vaginal mucosa, due to friction,” says Dr. Hack. Ouch.

To avoid this, “it’s best to use the correct absorbency for your flow,” she says. Meaning, stick to smaller-size tampons when your flow is light. On light days, you can even skip the tampon altogether and wear pantyliners or a pair of reusable period underwear. And if traditional ingredients in tampons irritate your skin, like rayon or certain fragrances, you can search for alternative tampon brands that use 100 percent cotton or other natural ingredients.

—medically reviewed by Andrea Braden, MD, OB/GYN

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