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Is It Safe to Use Tampons During Pregnancy?

Medically Reviewed by Katelyn Holt RN, BSN, BC
These are the reasons you should avoid using tampons during pregnancy.

Have you been experiencing vaginal discharge or bleeding during your pregnancy? Are you ready to grab a tampon and be done with it? Don’t be too quick with that decision!

There are several risks associated with using tampons during pregnancy.

In this guide, our medical team will discuss these risks and answer your questions about using tampons during pregnancy or after a miscarriage. We’ll also talk about how to tell when bleeding or discharge is normal during pregnancy and when it is something to be concerned about.

Key Takeaways

  • Tampons should be avoided during pregnancy due to increased risk of infection and irritation that can harm the baby.
  • Normal vaginal discharge during pregnancy is common and should not have a strong odor or color.
  • Bleeding during pregnancy is common in the first trimester, but always consult your doctor if it occurs.
  • After a miscarriage, avoid tampons to prevent infections that could slow down recovery and future pregnancies.

Is Discharge During Pregnancy Normal?

One of the things that annoyed me most during pregnancy was the discharge! It made me worry about my body, my baby, and my pregnancy. My doctor quickly reassured me that discharge — even large amounts — is nothing to be concerned about.

Normal discharge will not have a green or yellow tint, produce an odor, or be enough to fill a pad in a day (1).

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Is Bleeding During Pregnancy Normal?

Bleeding during pregnancy most commonly happens in the first trimester. This bleeding is due to implantation and your body getting ready to carry your baby. The first thing mothers worry about when they bleed is that they are having a miscarriage, but that isn’t always the case. Around 30% of women experience first-trimester bleeding and go on to have healthy, successful pregnancies.

Of course, you should always uphold good communication with your doctor. Ensure you’re wearing pads to see how much blood there is, and keep your specialist informed.

Subchorionic hematomas, little pockets of blood between the outer fetal membrane and the placenta, are the most common cause of bleeding during the first trimester of pregnancy. These sometimes rupture, resulting in bleeding (2).
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Editor's Note:

Katelyn Holt RN, BSN, BC

Can You Wear Tampons While Pregnant?

It may be tempting to use tampons to prevent leakage if you’re experiencing normal discharge or bleeding during pregnancy, but it’s something you should absolutely avoid doing.

Important Warning

Tampons aren’t safe for you or your baby since they pose a threat of bringing germs and bacteria into your body.

Tampons and menstrual cups can cause infections and tamper with your baby’s development. Long pads are a better alternative. If you see consistent discharge that seems to get worse, bring it up to your doctor. The bleeding or discharge shouldn’t be enough to fill multiple pads per day.

Dangers of Using Tampons While Pregnant

Every tampon risk increases when you’re pregnant.

1. Bad Bacteria

Plenty of germs can come in contact with your tampon, despite the wrapper. Bacteria can be present in the warehouse or manufacturing plant, during shipping, on the shelf, and in your bathroom once you unwrap the tampon. Even your own hands can introduce bacteria if unwashed.

Our bodies are good at fighting off harmful bacteria, so tampons are usually perfectly fine to use when you’re not pregnant. But when you’re pregnant, it’s easier for these germs to get inside your body and affect your baby.

Bad bacteria can cause infections, which will hurt your baby’s growth and development. The last thing you want to deal with while pregnant is an uncomfortable infection down below!

2. Irritation

Changing your body’s natural balance of good bacteria in your vagina can make it too dry or irritated. We are extremely sensitive during pregnancy to these changes since our hormones are doing entirely new things.

It can also be painful to use a tampon if it isn’t becoming fully saturated. Since your bleeding and discharge should be fairly minimal, it’s unlikely that it will be filling your tampon within four hours, which is the time recommended to leave it inserted. No one enjoys pulling out a dry tampon!

3. Hiding the Real Problem

If you can’t see your blood or discharge, you might not recognize if a problem begins. Paying attention to everything your body discards during pregnancy is important to monitor your health and your baby’s safety. You could be masking a true problem by using a tampon.

Infections or excessive bleeding that go unnoticed and untreated can seriously hurt your growing child or even lead to miscarriage. That’s why it’s so important to pay attention to your body, and a tampon prevents you from doing so.

You know your body best, so report any changes to your health care provider.

4. Toxic Shock Syndrome

Since it’s so rare, toxic shock syndrome may not seem like a real concern. However, it’s a potentially life-threatening condition that is most often caused by superabsorbent tampons that have been left in for too long.

Fevers, seizures, low blood pressure, and other harmful side effects happen to your body if you have this condition (3). The chances of it happening to you are low, but is it a risk you want to take?

Will Tampons Increase Miscarriage Odds?

Many women wear tampons when their period is about to start, and they may be wearing one before finding out about their pregnancy. If this is the case, stop using them as soon as you learn that you are expecting!

Since the most significant concern with tampons is introducing bacteria to the vagina, you’ll want to ensure you don’t get an infection. It’s not a very common occurrence, but it is possible.

Watch For Infection

Check with your doctor if you experience symptoms of a vaginal infection. If you don’t have any other side effects that may indicate infection, you’re perfectly fine and shouldn’t worry!

One of the most damaging things a new mom can do is worry about what happened before she knew she was pregnant. You’ll drive yourself crazy! Focus on the present and the future, and make your body a safe home for your little one from this time forward.

Can Tampons Be Used After a Miscarriage?

One of the most heartbreaking things a woman can experience in her life is a miscarriage, and it comes with a whole new world of needs. Many horrible things happen to your body during this emotional time, which can make a tampon feel like an easy fix.

Although you’re sad and uncomfortable after a miscarriage, please think twice before grabbing a box of tampons. As your body gets rid of the tissue it no longer needs, the cervix is open and vulnerable to infection and bacteria. All the dangers a tampon poses are heightened to the max during a miscarriage, and if you get an infection, it could take much longer to become pregnant again.

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Medically Reviewed by

Katelyn Holt RN, BSN, BC

Katelyn Holt RN, BSN, BC is a cardiology nurse and freelance medical writer. Katelyn has 8 years of nursing experience inpatient and outpatient, primarily medical-surgical and cardiac. After having two children she has a passion for Women’s Health and Lactation teaching and support.