A tampon is an absorbent menstrual product that’s inserted inside the vagina to absorb period blood. It expands to hold the blood, so it must be placed in the right place before it can work its magic (that’s why liners are usually better for every-day menstrual care). If you put it in incorrectly, it can leak and leave you vulnerable to infection or more serious but rare things like toxic shock syndrome.
The most common reason a tampon fills up with clear liquid is because it wasn’t placed in the right place. When you put a tampon in, you want to be in a comfortable position for insertion so you can relax your pelvic muscles and get it in. This might mean sitting on the toilet seat, squatting, or lying down on your side—whatever feels best to you.
It’s also important to wash your hands before and after putting in a tampon. That way you’re not shoving any other bacteria in with it.
It’s also important to change your tampon at the recommended time—every eight hours. That way you’re not at risk of a dangerous bacterial infection called TSS, which can lead to serious complications like kidney damage and even death. You might be able to tell when you’ve left in a tampon too long by noticing a foul-smelling discharge, but it can take up to a couple of weeks for the discharge to show up. If you see it, schedule a visit with your gyno and she might ask to do a culture or some other test to make sure you don’t have an infection that needs treatment.