It’s not always easy to time your sexual life with your monthly cycle. From time to time, things may get hot and heavy while you’re on your period. The last thing you want to do is stop the action to run to the bathroom and remove a tampon.

However, it’s recommended you remove your tampon first. If you don’t, the tampon may be pushed high into the vaginal canal. This can be uncomfortable, and it can also cause some potential problems.

Here’s what to do if you have sex with a tampon in and how to get it out before serious issues arise.

You can certainly have sex during your period. Some women find that menstrual blood works well as a natural lubricant, and they’re more turned on during their period than any other point of their cycle.

Sex while having a tampon inserted, however, is not recommended. In fact, you should try to remove a tampon before you have sex. Otherwise, you may experience one or more of these issues:

  • Difficulty retrieving: A penis or sex toy can push a tampon high into the vaginal canal. You won’t lose the tampon in your body — there’s only so far it can go — but you may have a hard time retrieving it when you do remember it’s there.
  • Pain and discomfort: During sexual intercourse, your partner’s penis or sex toy may push the tampon against the cervix. This can be uncomfortable. Likewise, some people find that their cervixes and uteruses are more sensitive during their periods. A tampon pressed against those organs may cause additional discomfort.
  • Uncomfortable sex: A tampon and a penis or sex toy can’t occupy the same space at the same time. If the tampon prevents your partner from fully penetrating your vagina, sex may be uncomfortable or just not enjoyable.
  • Lack of cervical stimulation: During sexual or digital penetration, cervical stimulation can lead to increased pleasure and even orgasm. With a tampon blocking the way, your partner may be unable to stimulate your cervix.
  • Bruising and lacerations: Tampons pushed against the cervix and uterus may cause bruises or cuts. This is especially true of a new or firm tampon. Soaked tampons are more flexible and less likely to poke the sensitive tissue.
  • Foul smell: The first reminder you forgot your tampon may be a foul odor coming from your vagina. Tampons will begin to smell bad after several days.
  • Vaginal infection: Lost tampons increase your risk for bacterial infections.
  • Toxic shock syndrome (TSS): This rare but life-threatening infection can occur with tampons that are left in the body for too long. Manufacturers have changed their products to reduce the risk of TSS, even with long-forgotten tampons, but the risk is still there.

During sexual intercourse, a penis or sex toy will likely push a tampon high into the vaginal canal. That may make retrieval difficult as the string is beyond your reach. You may also forget the tampon is there.

However, you should make every effort to get it out as soon as possible. The longer it stays in there, the greater the risk for possible complications and side effects.

To get the tampon out on your own, wash your hands well. Then, lie flat on your back and use two fingers to probe your vagina for the tampon or the tampon’s string that you can tug. If that doesn’t work, squat or put one leg up on the toilet, and feel around for the tampon.

Do not use any type of device, such as tweezers, to try to remove the tampon. If you aren’t able to remove the tampon yourself or if you can’t find it, call your doctor. Explain the situation and make an appointment as soon as possible.

Your doctor will perform a quick procedure to remove the lost tampon. This procedure will feel familiar if you’ve ever had a pelvic exam. In this case, however, your doctor will not need to take a cervical cell sample; they’ll simply remove the tampon.

As long as you’re not experiencing any other symptoms, such as fever or pain, your doctor won’t need to conduct an additional exam.

However, if you’ve been experiencing symptoms since the tampon was pushed into your vagina, your doctor may want to complete a full pelvic exam to check for signs of an infection or bruising.