Vodka tampons?

Dear Alice,

I heard that some people are soaking tampons in vodka or other alcohol and then inserting them so that they can get drunk without getting the calories. Does this work? It is dangerous?

I'll order a vodka...straight up

Dear I’ll order a vodka…straight up, 

Before you place your order, it’s good to know that using alcohol-infused tampons to get drunk could be a risky (not to mention uncomfortable) feat. However, no cases have been documented, leading some health experts to believe that this phenomenon is a myth or, at the very least, significantly exaggerated. Even so, the media has jumped on the bandwagon, leading to various news stories about young people partaking in this behavior. Some attempts to recreate the experience with vodka-soaked tampons (in a formal, experimental setting or otherwise) have found minimal success. Due to being expanded with liquid, it’s difficult to insert a vodka-soaked tampon into the vagina or anus, and if inserted successfully, can be associated with extreme pain and discomfort. In addition to potentially damaging the vagina or anus permanently, there’s also a risk of alcohol poisoning, as it’s difficult to know just how much alcohol is being absorbed into the bloodstream. If you have friends or know of anyone who’s considering using tampons for alcohol consumption, you may want to recommend less risky alternatives. 

Why would someone choose to soak a tampon in alcohol, rather than drink the old-fashioned way? There are a couple of theories that have been suggested. One commonly cited reason for using vodka tampons is to avoid the oral experience of drinking. Some people don’t like the taste of alcohol, or they want to avoid having alcohol on their breath, so they may try to use other methods to experience a buzz. 

Another idea is that this method is a way to get intoxicated faster. Absorbing alcohol through a mucous membrane (any part of the body that’s involved in absorption and secretion, such as the anus or vagina) allows for the alcohol to be absorbed directly to the bloodstream, leading to a more rapid intoxication. This method may also give more potent effects of intoxication because the alcohol isn’t diluted from being absorbed by the stomach and filtered by the liver. But here’s the concern — since the alcohol isn’t being absorbed through the stomach, a person can’t vomit if they have too much to drink. And once alcohol enters the bloodstream, you can’t get it back out. This significantly increases the risk for alcohol poisoning. There may be some speculation that absorbing alcohol through a vagina or anus makes it easier to pass a breathalyzer test. However, as breathalyzers measure blood alcohol content (BAC), it’s likely this assumption is false.

Although inserting an alcohol-soaked tampon could theoretically get someone drunk, practically it may not be all that easy in practice and may be more likely to cause damage than get you drunk. Soaking a tampon in alcohol while it’s in an applicator makes absorption of vodka into the tampon much less likely to occur. Even if you take the tampon out of the plastic applicator, the amount of alcohol absorbed would expand the tampon so significantly that insertion could be incredibly difficult and painful. Moreover, the acidity of alcohol can potentially cause physical pain and damage to the mucous membranes in the vagina or anus. This could lead to conditions such as ulcers and bacterial infections. Ouch! 

Whether or not alcohol-soaked tampons are a common occurrence or not, research seems to suggest that it’s an ineffective and potentially risky way to get drunk. If you’re able to even soak up enough alcohol in the tampon or insert it successfully, there’s a great risk of causing permanent damage to the genitals and increases the risk for alcohol poisoning. Sticking to lower-risk drinking behaviors may be a more effective way to enjoy alcohol while balancing the risks. 

Here's a toast to quenching your thirst for knowledge on this topic!

Last updated Jun 18, 2021
Originally published Jul 03, 2015

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