Being open and honest about real things that happen to real women is the fastest way to smash taboos and get us all talking about tricky topics. Which is why here, Kay, 25, tells us about the time she had a tampon stuck inside her...
“I was right at the end of my period. You know, that time in the month when you’re still bleeding a tiny bit but not really enough to justify wearing a tampon. Usually I’d just whack on a panty liner, but I decided to use a lite tampon to be on the safe side. I had a work event that day and wanted to wear a pair of tight, light grey trousers that I’d bought especially. I really didn’t want to risk any potential accidents with a squiffy pad.
"The day passed in a hectic blur. I was rushed off my feet and the event finished with drinks with my team. The glasses of wine I drank went straight to my head, but that wasn’t surprising. It had been a busy day and I have a low tolerance to alcohol around the time of my period. I said goodbye to my colleagues and went off to meet my boyfriend in another bar. It was a friend’s birthday so we ended up drinking some more and danced – the weekend had arrived and all I wanted to do was let my hair down and then sleep! It’s safe to say I was pretty tipsy and after a few hours my boyfriend and I went home to my flat, had sex and crashed out.
"At that point, I still hadn’t taken out the tampon I’d put in early that morning, in fact I’d totally forgotten about it. Yes, even during the sex. My boyfriend didn’t realise that I had a tampon in either. I’m still not sure how, but he didn’t.
"I woke the next morning with a hangover, but sorted myself out with a big breakfast and a long walk by the river. I honestly never gave the previous day’s tampon another thought.
"Fast forward a month and I noticed something wasn’t right when I started spotting. I’d bleed for a day but then it would stop, only to start again a few days later. I even thought I might be pregnant and did a test. It was negative, but I knew something weird was going with my periods. I was no longer regular and just couldn’t understand why. My cycle had been like clockwork for years.
Irregular periods and pain
"So I went to the doctors. As it happens, I was due to have a smear test so booked one in for the following week. I was anxious in case it revealed something sinister but the results came back after a couple of weeks and they were all clear. A relief.
"But the irregular bleeding and low tummy cramps continued and were a complete mystery to me. Another month or so passed this way and my boyfriend marched me back to the doctors. He knew something wasn’t right too.
"They sent me for a scan. An internal one known as a ‘transvaginal ultrasound’ where a three-inch probe was inserted into my vagina to get a good look at my cervix, uterus, ovaries, fallopian tubes – everywhere that could possibly be causing me this problem. I was told the ultrasound usually detects cysts, fibroids, pelvic infections, ectopic pregnancies and even cancer. I was preparing myself for any of these scary sounding things.
"But when I was sat back in my doctor’s surgery, getting the results, I couldn’t believe it when he said they showed nothing abnormal. Internally my vagina was the picture of health.
"So I went back home no wiser, wondering then if I’d been over-exaggerating and that maybe the spotting was just normal girl stuff. Not so. For the next month, things seemed to get worse. I didn’t know from day to day if I’d be bleeding or not and it started to take over my life.
"When I went back to my doctor a final time in tears, he referred me to a female gynaecologist to take another look.
The tampon stuck inside me...
"I wasn’t expecting what that appointment would reveal. As I lay there, with my legs in stirrups and with a trainee male doctor looking on, the gynaecologist inserted a speculum into my vagina and got out her light. “Do you think you might have a tampon stuck inside you?” she asked, “I think I can just about see the string.” My mind whirred. No, surely not?
"In the next moment she went in with an instrument and whipped out what I can only describe as a soggy, grey mass. It was disgusting and was taken away before I could see it properly or smell it. Thankfully.
"My mind then did the maths. The tampon stuck inside me had been there for four months. Four months! In which time I’d inserted other tampons as normal and had sex. Not to mention had a smear test and an ultrasound scan. When I asked the gynaecologist where it had been all that time, she said it was lodged sideways at the top my vagina near my cervix, compressed with the moisture. Apparently it happens way more often than you think, but she was surprised I hadn’t experienced any unusual discharge or odour. I said if I had I might have suspected it sooner.
"I’ve only told my best friend and my mum this story and of course my boyfriend could hardly believe the outcome either. He feels guilty as he played a major part in pushing it ‘up there'. Any other time in my life I’ve always changed my tampon every few hours and wouldn’t have thought it was possible to lose one. Let alone for four months! It just goes to show what can happen with a crazy-busy day, a few drinks and forgetfulness. I won’t be doing that again.”
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