Tampons are often a popular menstrual product choice for women during their periods. They offer greater freedom to exercise, swim, and play sports than pads.

Because you put the tampon up inside your vagina, you might wonder, “What happens when I pee?” No worries there! Wearing a tampon doesn’t affect urination at all, and you don’t have to change your tampon after you pee.

Here’s a look at why tampons don’t affect urination and how to use them the right way.

Why tampons won’t affect your urinary flow

Your tampon goes inside your vagina and pee comes out of your vagina. It’d seem like a tampon might block the flow of urine. It doesn’t.

What looks like one opening is actually two. Near the front of your vagina is a tiny opening. This is the exit of your urethra — the tube that carries urine from your bladder out of your body. Underneath the urethral opening is the larger vaginal opening — that’s where the tampon goes.

A tampon won’t block the flow of urine, although some pee might get on the tampon string as it flows out of your body. Don’t worry if this happens. Unless you have a urinary tract infection (UTI), your urine is sterile, or bacteria-free. You can’t give yourself an infection by peeing on the tampon string.

Some women don’t like the feeling or smell of a wet string. You can hold the string to the side when you urinate or change your tampon after you go. But you don’t have to do either if you don’t want to.

How to use a tampon the right way

To use tampons correctly, first pick the right-sized tampon for you. If you’re new to this kind of menstrual product, start with the “slender” or “junior” size. These are easier to insert. “Super” and “Super-Plus” are best if you have a very heavy menstrual flow. Don’t use a tampon that’s more absorbent than your flow.

Also consider the applicator. Plastic applicators insert more easily than cardboard ones, but they tend to be more expensive.

How to correctly insert a tampon:

  1. Before you insert a tampon, wash your hands with soap and water.
  2. Stand or sit in a comfortable position. If you’re standing, you might want to place one foot up on the toilet.
  3. With one hand, gently open the folds of skin — called the labia — around the opening of your vagina.
  4. Holding the tampon by its middle, gently push it into your vagina.
  5. Once the applicator is inside, push the inner part of the tube through the outer part of the tube. Then, pull the outer tube out of your vagina (both parts of the applicator should come out).

The tampon should feel comfortable once it’s in. The string should hang out of your vagina. You’ll use it to pull the tampon back out.

How often should you change your tampon?

It’s generally recommended that you change your tampon every 4 to 8 hours or when it’s saturated with blood. You can tell when it’s saturated because you’ll see staining on your underwear.

Even if your period is light, change it within eight hours. If you leave it in longer, bacteria can grow. The bacteria can get into your bloodstream and cause a rare but serious illness called toxic shock syndrome (TSS).

How to keep your tampon clean

Here are a few ways to keep your tampon clean and dry:

  • Wash your hands before you insert it.
  • Change it every 4 to 8 hours and more often if you have a heavy flow.
  • Move the string aside when you use the toilet.

The takeaway

When it comes to peeing with a tampon in, do what makes you feel comfortable. If you’d prefer to take it out before urinating or right afterward, that’s up to you. Just make sure to keep your hands clean when inserting it and change it every 4 to 8 hours.