You’ve probably heard that sleeping with a tampon in is a big no-no that comes with serious health risks.
If you’ve gotten this advice and followed it, I’m here to tell you that it’s not entirely accurate.
Sleeping with a tampon in is generally no more dangerous than wearing it during the day. The health risks are really more about the length of time that you leave a tampon in, not whether you’re sleeping or conscious.
When I started using tampons as a young girl, one of my girlfriends terrified me into believing that I would get Toxic Shock Syndrome(TSS) and die if I slept with my tampon in.1 For many years, this notion haunted me. I was even scared to nap with a tampon in.
As an adult, I realize that while TSS is a very serious infection, sleeping with my tampon in does not mean that I’ll get it.
So, where does all this hype about the dangers of sleeping with a tampon in come from? And is there any truth to it at all?
If you’ve ever wondered if you should sleep with your tampon in, you’ve come to the right place. We’re going to break down this tampon myth and go over a few things to keep in mind if you do decide to sleep with your tampon in.
Debunking the Myth and Possible Dangers of Sleeping With A Tampon
Tampons are very different from pads in that they’re worn internally. This means that they can actually change the natural environment of your vagina.
When worn during the day, you have the ability to change your tampon frequently. This helps you to avoid altering your vaginal environment for extended periods of time.
When you sleep with a tampon inserted, you’re essentially changing this natural environment for many hours.
You may be thinking, so what? What’s the big deal about altering the environment of my lady parts while I sleep?
If done correctly, it isn’t really a big deal.
“A woman may use all options at night to stop the flow of blood that she may use during the day,” says Board-certified ob-gyn Pari Ghodsi, M.D.2
Most professionals recommend changing your tampon every 6-8 hours.3 So, unless you’re planning on taking a mini-coma and sleeping for 9+ hours, it’s pretty safe.
But there are always risks to consider.
Tampons obviously absorb menstrual fluid – but they can also absorb other natural vaginal fluids that you need to keep your vagina healthy. This absorbing of natural fluids can create the perfect place for bacteria to grow.
And no one wants bad bacteria growing down there.
This type of bacteria can lead to a number of infections, Toxic Shock Syndrome being the most well-known and dangerous.
Toxic Shock Syndrome is a fairly rare bacterial infection – but it can be fatal. It doesn’t matter what type of tampon you wear, regular or super, the risks are the same.
Aside from infections, sleeping with your tampon in may cause unnecessary irritation to your vagina. This is more a personal comfort issue rather than a medical risk. Some women simply have more sensitive private parts than others.
Can sleeping with a tampon lead to a Urinary Tract Infection?
The only time that wearing a tampon will lead to a urinary tract infection (UTI) is if it causes injury or irritation.4 This can give bacteria a chance to invade and lead to a UTI.
But with proper use, sleeping with a tampon should does result in a UTI.
Oh, and while we are on the subject… I think we should debunk one more tampon myth:
Inserting a tampon with yoghurt on it will not cure a UTI.5
I don’t know where this myth originated, but I can’t imagine anything worse than inserting a yoghurt covered tampon up my hoo-ha.
What Position Should You Sleep in When Wearing a Tampon?
I have good news for you. It doesn’t matter what position you sleep in when wearing a tampon. It doesn’t matter whether you are a side sleeper, stomach sleeper or back sleeper, the main thing is that you are comfortable.
Of course, if you do notice that sleeping in a particular position results in night time leakage, then obviously that should be avoided! And if this does happen, don’t panic. Simply try sleeping with both a tampon and a panty liner.6
Things to Remember When Sleeping with a Tampon
I always sleep with my tampon in. Pads are simply unbearable to me – day or night. But I do try to make sure that I’m as safe as possible when sleeping with my tampon in.
If you’re planning to sleep with your tampon in, there are a few things to be aware of in order to avoid any infections or irritation.
1. Tampons should be changed at least every 6-8 hours
This means that if you’re planning to hunker down for a long 9+ hours of sleep, you will need to either set an alarm to wake up and change your tampon, or skip it and wear a pad instead.
2. Tampons should only be worn when you have a flow
Thinking of wearing a tampon to bed because you’re expecting a visit from Aunt Flow?
It’s generally not a good idea to sleep with a tampon in before your period arrives. Aside from being extremely painful when you need to remove it, your tampon will aggressively absorb all your healthy vaginal fluids and become a breeding ground for bad bacteria since there are no menstrual fluid to absorb.
If you’re worried that your period will surprise you mid-sleep, opt for a pad or menstrual cup instead of a tampon.
3. Use the lightest absorbency needed for your flow
When you wear the wrong absorbency for your flow, your risks for Toxic Shock Syndrome are much greater.
Wearing a tampon with a higher absorbency level than you need leaves more room for the tampon to absorb natural fluids that keep your lady parts healthy. This promotes the growth of bacteria and can cause infection.
With a variety of different absorbencies available, you should make it a point to pick the proper absorbency for your flow, day or night.
4. Wash your hands before your bedtime tampon goes in
This is a rule that should really be followed no matter what time of day it is, but it’s especially important at night.
Even if you’re an avid hand-washer, hands in general are filthy and carry a lot of bacteria.
Any time that you’re in contact with your lower regions, you should make sure that your hands are clean. Not washing your hands can lead to bacteria on your tampon which will then make its way inside your vagina. Not a good idea.
So as you can see, wearing a tampon at night is actually one of the least scary things that goes along with your period. Now, sleeping with menstrual cramps on the other hand…
Do you sleep with a tampon in? Have you ever had a bad experience with sleeping with your tampon in? Let me know in the comments below!