Wait, Can You Pee (or Poop) with a Tampon In?

An ob-gyn answers whether you really need to pull out your tampon before taking care of your business in the bathroom.

Every vagina-owner knows that the moments you need to use the bathroom don't always line up with when you need to put in a new tampon. When that situation arises, you might have an internal debate about whether you should take out the tampon you inserted just 15 minutes ago or just use the restroom with it in. If you choose to go through with the former, the fresh cotton — which is probably still dry AF — will likely be super uncomfortable to pull out. But if you opt for the latter, you might worry about developing some sort of infection or simply feel unhygienic for the rest of the day.

TBH, neither option seems ideal, but it's worth asking: Can you pee with a tampon in without putting your health at risk? And is pooping with a tampon in okay or a total no-go? Here, those pressing Qs about going number one or two with a tampon up your vagina are answered by Kelly Culwell, M.D., a board-certified ob-gyn known as Dr. Lady Doctor. (

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Can You Pee with a Tampon In?

Folks, you can stop stressing about leaving your tampon in while you take a whiz, as there aren't any health concerns with peeing with a tampon inserted, says Dr. Culwell. In case you need a quick health class refresher, pee comes out of the urethra — the tube that carries urine from the bladder out of the body and has an entirely separate opening from the vagina, which you bleed from during your monthly cycle, she explains. As such, you don't need to worry about the tampon soaking up your pee or blocking its flow.

Further, even sprinkling the tampon string with a little urine is NBD. "Unless you already have a urinary tract infection, there is no bacteria in urine, so even if pee gets on the tampon string, there are no health risks," says Dr. Culwell. "And even with a UTI, there is no concern for transferring bacteria to the vagina from the urine [on the string]," she adds. To prevent the string from getting soaked — if it makes you feel uncomfortable — simply hold it away from the urine stream, she suggests.

What's most important to remember, though, is to wipe front to back after peeing, whether you have a tampon in or not, says Dr. Culwell. Doing so will help you "avoid passing bacteria from the rectum or vagina into the urethra," she explains. If you wipe back to front, "this can cause bacteria to travel up the urethra and cause a UTI," she warns. Since people with vaginas have short urethras, amounting to just 1.5 inches long (for comparison, the urethras of people with penises are roughly 7 to 8 inches long), it's easier for bacteria to make its way up into the bladder, increasing your odds of developing an infection, according to the Office on Women's Health. (PSA, wiping back to front isn't the only bathroom mistake you could be making.)

Can You Poop with a Tampon In?

Thankfully for those with unpredictable bowel movements, it's also generally safe to poop with a tampon in, says Dr. Culwell. Still, some people may find that their tampon slips out while dropping a deuce, particularly if they're straining, she says. "There's no health risk, but it could be annoying, particularly given that it isn't good for plumbing to flush tampons," she explains.

There's no need to worry about UTIs from pooping with a tampon in, but it is possible to develop bacterial vaginosis (BV) if your number two gets all over the tampon string, says Dr. Culwell. "Bacterial vaginosis is an imbalance of 'good' versus 'bad' bacteria in the vagina," she explains. "There are a lot of shared bacteria that live in both the vagina and rectum (because they are so close to each other), so if you introduce more of the bacterium from the rectum into the vagina, it can throw off the balance and lead to bacterial vaginosis," she continues. Tell-tale signs of BV are foul-smelling vaginal odor, vaginal itching, a burning sensation while you pee, and thin, gray, white, or green discharge, according to the Mayo Clinic. Fun!

To reduce your risk of bacterial vaginosis and keep everything in ship shape downstairs, hold the string away from your anus, tuck the tampon string into the labia (if that works with your anatomy), or, if you really want to be cautious, pull out the tampon entirely after you poop, recommends Dr. Culwell. And, once again, always wipe front to back to reduce the risk of UTIs, she says. (

FTR, just because you can pee and poop with a tampon in doesn't mean you have to to it. If taking a leak or going number two while you have a piece of cotton up your vag gives you the willies, feel free to take it out before you do so. As the saying goes, "to each their own," even when it comes to taking a 💩.

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