The human body contains several cavities. No, I’m not talking about the dental kind, I’m talking about, um, orifices. Sometimes when human beings are curious, bored or just plain old stupid, they put various objects in these various body cavities. And sometimes what goes in doesn’t necessarily come out. When this happens, it’s often up to a doctor to fish out the random (and many times unusual) object. Fortunately, for me the internist, pediatricians and emergency room doctors see the majority of this “retained foreign body” type of patient. But there is one object that I am frequently called upon to find – the lost tampon.
(Scene: An ordinary day at Dr. Lori’s office)
Me: What brings you here today?
Patient: A car.
Me: Oh, aren’t you the little comedian? Listen missy, there’s only room in this office for one smartass and that’s me! Now tell me why you’re here today and I expect a serious answer.
Patient: I lost my tampon.
Me: Surely you can’t be serious.
Patient: I am serious. And don’t call me Shirley. I lost my tampon.
Me: You lost your tampon?
Patient: Yes, I lost my tampon. I remember putting in the tampon yesterday but when I went to take it out, it wasn’t there. I don’t remember taking it out. My tampon is lost.
Me: A lost tampon. Hmm, this is quite a conundrum. We better get to the police station right away.
Patient: The police station? Why?
Me: Why to file a missing tampon report of course.
(Scene: Local police station)
Police: So where did you last see the missing tampon?
Patient: In my vagina.
Police: Did your tampon have any enemies?
Patient: No, everyone loved my tampon. Wait, now that you mention it, my boyfriend’s penis was always very unhappy when my tampon was around.
Police: OK, we’ll bring in the penis for questioning and put out an APB for the tampon.
(Scene: Back at Dr. Lori’s office)
Patient: My tampon is still lost. Now what?
Me: Where do we turn in order to solve most of our problems?
Patient: Alcohol? Scientology? Entenmann’s Devils Food Crumb Donuts?
Me: No, no and yes, Entenmann’s Devils Food Crumb Donuts do solve most problems but they won’t find your tampon. No, I’m talking about television. Television gives us the answer to so many of life’s difficult questions. Maybe we can solve the mystery of the lost tampon by watching ABC’s popular show Lost.
(Dr. Lori turns on the latest episode of Lost)
Lost dude: What’s that rustling behind the bushes? Who’s there?
(3 tampons emerge from behind the bushes)
Regular: Hello. We’re the Tampax family. I’m Regular.
Slim: I’m Slim.
Super: And I’m Super. Nothing gets past me!
Slim: What about Toxic Shock Syndrome?
Super: Shut up skinny bitch!
Regular: Will you two stop it! See what I have to put up with. Damn Tampax variety pack! We’re a little lost. Could you point us in the direction of the nearest vagina?
Lost dude: Sure. Just head toward the beach, take a right at the airplane wreckage, walk through the forest and you should find your vagina there.
Regular: Thank you so much. Have a happy period!
OK, I confess, none of that really happened. It was all my warped sense of humor imagination, like what you’d see on Scrubs. Like the doctors on Scrubs, real life doctors spend a large part of their day daydreaming. And spontaneously bursting into song. But seriously, I do get many patients who come to see me because of a lost tampon. The patient above may have been imaginary but she is a good representation of my typical “lost tampon” patient – she remembers putting a tampon in but when she tries to remove it, it’s not there (and she swears she hadn’t taken it out before). When the tampon can’t be found, she panics and really truly believes that the tampon is lost inside her, floating aimlessly throughout her body. And then she ends up on my exam table because, even though she thinks her tampon is swimming circles around her kidneys, she also thinks that I will be able to retrieve this lost tampon.
Excuse me one moment while I shout this from the rooftops:
A TAMPON CANNOT BECOME LOST IN YOUR BODY!!!
I repeat, a tampon cannot become lost in your body. The vagina is a closed canal. It’s not a black hole into which your tampon vanishes. It’s also not like your clothes dryer where your socks disappear, never to be seen again. A vagina is like a dead-end street, once you hit the end of the street, there’s no where else to go. So when you’re cruising down Vagina Street and you hit the cervix, that’s it, that’s the end of the road. Nothing is getting past that cervix…well, nothing except for your husband’s/boyfriend’s/one night stand’s little swimmers but only if that little sperm is an elite swimmer, the Michael Phelps of the sperm world. But there is no way for a tampon to travel beyond the cervix. The idea that a tampon could leave the vagina and become lost within the human body is absurd. It’s ridiculous. It’s positively preposterous. A tampon cannot be lost.
If a tampon cannot be lost, where’s the tampon? When I examine these patients, 9 times out of 10 the tampon is not in the vagina. If it’s not in the vagina where is it?
It’s been flushed.
It’s taking a scenic trip through the local sewer.
How can this be if the patient can’t remember removing the tampon? Oh, she may not remember taking it out, but she did. After using tampons month after month for years and years, removing tampons becomes routine for women. Women do without even thinking about it. It becomes automatic. What’s another reason women forget they took out their tampon? Alcohol! The classic story is my patient goes out at night, has too much to drink, comes home, removes her tampon and then is hung over wakes up the next morning and discovers her tampon is no longer in her vagina. The tampon is no longer there because she took it out! But since she can’t remember removing it, she assumes that the tampon must be lost inside her, thus, she schedules an appointment with Dr. Lori, finder of lost tampons.
As I mentioned before, when patients come in complaining of a lost tampon and I examine them, most of the time the tampon is not there. Most of the time. If a woman has a long vaginal canal and a very short finger, sometimes that short finger can’t quite reach the tampon. The tampon isn’t lost, it’s just hiding. So it’s my job to play a little hide and seek with the tampon. Let me tell you, when that tampon has been hiding for a week, it’s not something I really want to find. And also let me tell you, the stench of a week old tampon is something you never ever want to experience. Never. Ever. Trust me.
So the next time you can’t find your tampon, please remember, your tampon is not floating around having tequila shots with your liver. You were likely the one having the tequila shots. And with that, Dr. Lori and the mystery of the lost tampon has been solved.