Should You Sleep With a Tampon In?

When it comes to choosing overnight period protection, we always recommend you take efforts to make an informed decision about which is best for you and your lifestyle, be it sustainable and reusable period pants or menstrual cups, or disposable pads or tampons. 

When it comes to the latter, a common question we often hear is: can I sleep with a tampon in? In this article, we look at why it's not a good idea to sleep with a tampon in and why period underwear is a safer alternative. Read on as our WUKA experts discuss!

Is it Safe to Sleep with a Tampon in?

When we pose the question, can I sleep with a tampon in, what we’re really asking is: is it safe to wear a tampon for up to 8 hours or more? And, yes, you should be aiming for around 8 hours of sleep each night. Read this post for a reminder on how important sleep is on your period.

hand holding bloody tampon

Tampon manufacturers advise that you should change your tampon every 4-6 hours, and since you’re likely to be asleep for longer, its not advisable to sleep with a tampon in.

Miss Julie Bowring, consultant gynaecologist at London Gynaecology, advises:

'It is recommended to avoid using a tampon for over 8 hours as this will reduce the risk of infection (this is a rare complication when tampons are left in for too long). Regular change of internal sanitary products is essential.'

Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS) is very rare but life threatening, and doctors advise that wearing a tampon can increase your risk of developing the condition.

The NHS recommends that you seek urgent medical attention if you think you have a combination of any of the symptoms associated with Toxic Shock Syndrome, including:

  • High temperature
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Rash
  • Dizziness

Read more about TSS here.

In short, is it okay to sleep with a tampon in? Possibly, but there are other, safer options to consider too.

How To Deal with Heavy Periods Overnight

If you typically experience heavy periods, you’re definitely going to need a plan of action for overnight protection, but that doesn’t always mean you need to wear a tampon. Explore different options to find the method that works best for you. 

Some women double up on pads for overnight and others lay on towels in case of leaks. You might also want to look into menstrual cups.

If you suffer from cramps, a hot water bottle can help to ease the discomfort at night too.

woman sleeping wearing bralette and wuka boxer shorts

Can You Wear A Tampon Overnight?

If you experience heavy periods, you will probably find that you need to change your tampon quite regularly, and that includes overnight too. Some women find that their flow varies throughout the day, with significant changes in blood loss at night. Usually, this is down to gravity. When we lay down in bed, the blood doesn’t flow in the same way as it does when we are awake and moving around. 

Wearing a tampon overnight can also increase your risk of Toxic Shock Syndrome if you to wear longer than the recommended 4-6 hours.

Put the Tampon in just Before you go to Bed

If you do decide to wear a tampon overnight, make sure you insert it right before you go to bed. This will minimise the length of time that you wear it overall.

And if you’re worried about whether to not you’ll be able to retrieve the tampon in the morning, Miss Julie Bowring adds: 'The tampon is unlikely to fall out and can't get lost inside.'

Choose the Right Absorbency for your Flow

It is important to always choose the right absorbency for your flow. Higher absorbency tampons are designed for heavier flows, and smaller absorbency for lighter flows. You might need more than one type of tampon throughout your period, as your blood flow varies depending where you are in your menstrual cycle. With this in mind, the question ‘can I sleep with a tampon in?’ becomes more a question about what type of tampon is best to sleep in instead.

Higher absorbency tampons carry a higher risk of you developing Toxic Shock Syndrome, mainly because they can be worn for longer, and therefore increase the risk of bacteria developing inside the vagina. There is also an added risk if the tampon sticks to the vaginal walls while blood flow is light. When removed, abrasions can occur and these can become infected.

As a general rule of thumb, if you experience pain or discomfort when removing the tampon, the absorbency is probably too high. Switch it out for a lower absorbency tampon. 

If you are familiar with your overnight flow, you can adjust your tampon accordingly for bedtime. 

finger touching phone alarm on screen

Set an Alarm

Be prepared for some disruption to your slumber if you choose to sleep with a tampon. Experts agree that setting an alarm through the night is a good idea, to make sure that you keep up with changing your tampon regularly. If you think you might sleep through your alarm, you might want to consider a different method of overnight protection.

Wear a Pantyliner for Extra Security

If you know your overnight flow is heavy and you want to avoid leaks, it is a good idea to wear a pantyliner overnight for extra security. Don’t forget that this will need to be changed regularly too.

Better Yet, Wear WUKA Period Pants

If the idea of doubling up and setting an alarm throughout the night doesn’t appeal, reusable period pants are an even better option for overnight protection, eliminating the ‘can I sleep with a tampon in' question too. Our WUKA range caters for extra heavy (check out our Super Heavy range) and heavy flows, plus medium and light flows too. 

Our Heavy Flow range can be worn all night, depending on your flow, with no leaks and no need to double up. They are made with a highly absorbent gusset that works to lock in the blood and draw it away from the body so that you stay nice and dry – and so that the risk of infections are much lower too. 

WUKA period underwear are also sustainable and reusable, helping to cut down on the amount of disposable waste being sent to landfill – the best alternative to pads and tampons!

woman sleeping wearing wuka bralette and period pants

What if I Wear my Tampon for More than 8 Hours?

If you do end up wearing your tampon for more than 8 hours, don’t panic. 

Although it puts you at a higher risk for TSS, it doesn’t automatically mean you will get it. Make sure to remove it as soon as you can and use another form of protection for a while before going back for another tampon.

Sometimes, leaving a tampon in for too long could lead to an infection such as Bacterial Vaginosis, which is luckily easily treated. Some women also find that wearing a tampon for too long can cause irritation. 

Dr. Ghazala Aziz-Scott, specialist in integrative women’s health and biodentical hormone balancing at Marion Gluck Clinic, expands on the reasons why prolonged wearing of a tampon can upset the vagina’s natural balance:

‘The vagina is normally colonised by Staphlococcus aureus and Streptococcus A, but if a tampon is left in too long, these bacteria can multiply out of control and then become pathogenic, causing Toxic Shock Syndrome. This can lead to sepsis, which can be fatal.’

If you notice a change in odour or discharge, pelvic pain or a high temperature, you might need to seek medical advice. Always look out for signs of Toxic Shock Syndrome symptoms and see your healthcare provider just in case.

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