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Do Tampons Make Cramps Worse?

Okay, girls. We have all been there – that time of the month when Aunt Flo pays her not-so-welcome visit. As if the bloating and mood swings weren’t enough to deal with, let’s add in the cramps that can range from discomfort we can handle to level 10 agonizing pain. 

But have you ever wondered whether the tampons you’re using this time of the month could be the culprit of your cramps? Let’s dive in and explore this idea.

What’s the 411 on Menstrual Cramps?

Before we throw tampons into the mix, let’s start with the uninvited party crasher: cramps.

So, picture this: your uterus decides to shed its lining (which is literally what it does every time of the month), and boom! Cramps crash the scene. In scientific terms, this is called dysmenorrhea, but we’ll call it a total pain in the … you know how to finish that sentence. 

What makes these awful things happen? Here’s the deal. As your uterus does its thing, it releases hormone-like troublemakers called prostaglandins. They’re all about a life of pain, inflammation, and sending out signals for muscle contractions in your uterus. The higher your prostaglandin levels, the more brutal your cramps. Fun, right? 

Now, some lucky girls barely feel a thing while others end up bedridden with these cramps monsters. It’s, unfortunately, like playing the lottery – you either hit the jackpot or get stuck with a losing ticket (aka heavy cramps). 

How Are Tampons and Cramps Related?

Now that you know a bit more about the science behind cramps, it’s time to dig into the burning question: could tampons be messing with your cramps?

Here’s the theory: some peeps out there think that tampons, while doing their job of absorbing your flow, might actually block the natural flow of your menstrual blood, leading to major discomfort (we’re looking at you, cramps). 

While that sounds like it could be legit, we are here to spill the tea: it’s just not true. 

So, Do Tampons Make Cramps Worse?

If someone fed you the line that your tampons are to blame for your cramps, they were straight-up pulling your leg.

Here’s the lowdown:

Cramps originate from your uterus, while tampons only chill in the vaginal zone. Tampons don’t go deep enough to mess with your cramps. Trust us on this. 

So you can stop pointing fingers at your trusty tampons for causing your period cramps. In fact, they were intentionally designed to stay out of the way and let your natural menstrual process do its thing. They’re just here to keep things clean and tidy, ya know? 

So, don’t sweat it – your tampons aren’t the culprits behind your pelvic pain. 

How Are Periods and Pelvic Pain Related?

Let’s get real about some pelvic pain situations that can have you feeling less than stellar. Let’s start by noting that these issues are not the same as your regular cramps. 

Some girls might experience pelvic pain while wearing tampons, but it’s not the same thing as cramps. If you have something else going on in your vag, then tampons prob won’t feel great.

Here are some issues that may be causing you pain that you’re thinking is due to tampons:


This disorder is no joke, guys. Endometriosis is when your uterine cells decide to venture outside of their nice home and start causing chaos. Think pain, inflammation, and a whole lot more. Some people with endometriosis find that sex and even putting in a tampon can cause excruciating pain.


While this sounds like it could be a superpower of the vag, trust us when we say it isanything but a superpower for your lady parts. Vulvodynia is a condition where you feel chronic pain and/or burning around your vulva. This can get so bad that most people kiss sex goodbye, and some even find that sitting for too long can cause pain. Seriously, it’s terrible. 


Ever noticed that when you go to the gyno for your annual exam, your vag seems to revolt, tighten up like “No way, doc!” making it difficult for the doc to get in there? (Or you can thank your partner who doesn’t know the art of foreplay for that, too.) That’s pretty typical since the gyno isn’t exactly a sexy vibe. 

However, this tightening can also happen to people under normal circumstances, such as inserting a tampon, and it’s called vaginismus

What Are Other Causes of Cramps?

Now that we know pelvic pain and period cramps are not one and the samel, let’s discuss some of the other reasons you may be laid up in bed with a heating pad and Netflix (how did people ever survive without this combo?!).

Hormone Imbalance

Hormones, hormones, hormones. The life of all human bodies, but especially us girls. Our hormones are very different from men's and fluctuate significantly throughout the month. 

They’re hot, then they’re cold. They’re yes, then they’re no. They’re in, then they’re out, they’re up, then they’re down. 

When it’s that time of the month, your progesterone and estrogen naturally take a dive, which can lead to a drop in serotonin. But, if your hormones are further out of whack due to stress, lack of sleep, wonky blood sugar levels, and more, brace yourself for even more intense cramps. Talk about a bummer. 

If you feel like your hormones may be imbalanced, it’s a good idea to talk to a doctor and see where things may have gone awry. 

But a good place to start with hormone imbalance is… improving your lifestyle. 


Living that stress-free life is crucial, especially when your period decides to make its grand entrance. Stress can seriously amp up your cramp game. Add in a lack of sleep, a not-so-stellar diet, and skipping out on exercise, and you’ve got the recipe for he** when it comes to cramps (and a whole bunch of other stuff, too). 

Underlying Conditions

Remember when we talked about endometriosis? Ya, that devilish condition can make your cramps feel like you want to rip your uterus right out (okay, maybe not that dramatic, but you catch our drift). 

If you think you may have endometriosis or any other condition, def go see your doctor ASAP. 

What Are Some Tampon Alternatives?

If you’re someone who just doesn’t vibe with tampons, no problem. The lovely thing about being a woman in the 21st century is that there is a wide array of options when it comes to keeping you comfortable during a typically uncomfortable time of the month. 

Menstrual Cups

If you’re looking for a more eco-friendly way to do your period, then we’ve got the perfect thing: menstrual cups. We will always stan tampons (unless they hurt you), but we’d be lying if we didn’t say we don’t love the waste they cause (but we can’t be perfect all the time). So, if this waste really bothers you or you find tampons to be too uncomfortable, menstrual cups are the perfect alternative. They collect your menstrual flow rather than absorb it like tampons. You simply clean them and reuse them over and over. 


Pads are a tried and true solution to menstrual blood that has been around for a looooong time. They come in all sizes and levels of absorption, so you can choose the one that fits your specific and unique wants and needs. 

The Wrap-Up

The idea that tampons make cramps worse is a common misconception. The truth is that tampons sit in your vagina, not your uterus — and because cramps stem from the shedding that takes place in your uterus, tampons don’t have any impact. 

If you’re dealing with super painful cramps and having a hard time finding relief, consult your doc to make sure there aren’t any underlying causes. 

To level up your life in ways like this, be sure to follow along with 10PM Curfew as we cover the topics that help you stay in the know and get inspired.


Menstrual cramps - Symptoms and causes | Mayo Clinic

Endometriosis - Symptoms and causes | Mayo Clinic

Vulvodynia - Symptoms and causes | Mayo Clinic

Vaginismus | NHS

How Hormones Affect Mood Throughout Your Menstrual Cycle | Dr. Jolene Brighten