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How To Use A Vaginal Applicator

Vaginal applicators play a crucial role in women’s health, making it easier to administer various treatments and maintain optimal vaginal health. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll discuss the purpose of vaginal applicators, how to use and clean them, and share expert advice.

What is a Vaginal Applicator?

A vaginal applicator is used for inserting different preparations into the vagina:

  • Medication (i.e., Monistat for infection)
  • Hormones (i.e., estrogen, such as Premarin or Estrace),
  • Lubricants (i.e., Replens), etc.

Some applicators come pre-loaded and are used only once before being discarded.  Others are used repetitively and last for months/years as long as they are properly cleaned.  The applicator of a tampon is a mini version of a disposable vaginal applicator.

Watch our YouTube video How to Use and Clean a Vaginal Applicator, or read on:

How to use an applicator

  • Screw the straight end with the threading onto the tube of the preparation to are to use (lube, medication, estrogen)
  • Fill the applicator to desired or prescribed level
  • Unscrew, and add a dollop of the preparation to the tip to smooth its way into the vagina
  • If you use vaginal estrogen, smear some on the vulva & clitoris before inserting into vagina
  • Insert the loaded applicator into the vagina and empty it (press the plunger part into the barrel part)
  • Hold it closed as you take it out so it won’t re-suck what you just deposited in the vagina

How to clean a reusable applicator:

  • Turn on the hot water to a comfortable temperature
  • Pump the applicator under the running water
  • Take the applicator apart (pull out the plunger from the barrel)
  • Wash the applicator parts with soap and water; you may use a Q-tip for removing leftover residue from the tip of the barrel, or better yet – get an eyebrow brush and dedicate it for this very purpose – it works great!
  • Rinse well and pat dry
  • Leave disassemble, wrap in a paper towel, and let dry until ready to be reused

Do not boil the applicator as it will cause it to melt and lose its shape & functionality.

how to use a vaginal applicator


Vaginal applicators are an essential tool in women’s health, providing a convenient and effective way to administer various treatments. By following the expert advice of Dr. Ditza Katz and the Women’s Therapy Center, you can ensure that your vaginal applicator remains clean and functional, helping you maintain optimal vaginal health.

Frequently Asked Questions About Vaginal Applicators

To further assist you in understanding and using vaginal applicators, we have compiled a list of frequently asked questions:

How often should I replace my reusable vaginal applicator?

The lifespan of a reusable vaginal applicator depends on the material and quality of the applicator, as well as how well it is cared for. Generally, a well-maintained applicator can last for months or even years. However, if you notice any signs of wear or damage, replacing the applicator is best to ensure safe and effective use.

Can I share my reusable vaginal applicator with someone else?

No, sharing a vaginal applicator is not recommended, as it can increase the risk of spreading infections or causing irritation. Each person should have their own dedicated applicator.

Can I use a vaginal applicator during pregnancy?

It’s crucial to consult with your healthcare provider before using a vaginal applicator during pregnancy. While certain medications and treatments may be necessary and safe to administer with an applicator, your doctor will provide guidance based on your specific needs and circumstances.

What if I experience discomfort or pain while using a vaginal applicator?

If you experience discomfort or pain while using a vaginal applicator, stop the process immediately and consult with your healthcare provider. They can assess the situation and guide whether you should continue with the treatment, adjust the technique, or explore alternative options.

About The Author

vaginismus specialist Dr. Ditza Katz team member Women's Therapy Center
  • Judie Pincus February 27, 2020 at 3:33 am / Reply

    Dear Sir/Madam:

    Can you kindly recommend a vaginal plunger that I can keep using for a while without discarding it. I use it three times a week when I use Replens and use an 1/2 inch on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Do you have such a vaginal plunger. I bought two plungers and it said to discard after one use!! I don’t want to have to do that s it will become quite expensive since I would need to use 12 a month. If you have the plunger that I do not have to dispose of, please let me know ASAP!!!!

    Thank you very much,

    Judie Pincus

    • Ditza Katz February 27, 2020 at 3:05 pm / Reply

      A plastic applicator/plunger may be used time and again, for years as long as it is being promptly cleaned. Contact us directly for further discussion: [email protected] (By the way, we tried to call you but no reply; we removed your phone number off the post for your security)

    • Jodie January 25, 2021 at 12:19 pm / Reply

      Hey go on eBay I got mine I got 8 reusable ones that u can wash and use again they’re great!

      • Ditza Katz January 25, 2021 at 5:09 pm / Reply

        Thank you for the info. And, yes, applicators are now available from many online vendors.

  • Jane January 3, 2020 at 8:33 am / Reply

    Can I wash with antibacterial soap?

    • Ditza Katz January 8, 2020 at 5:42 pm / Reply

      Yes, applicators can be washed with any soap, just make sure to rinse them well.

  • Marie March 28, 2019 at 1:50 am / Reply

    I would like to buy a reusable vaginal applicator for contraceptive gel. Is there a brand you recommend?

    • Ditza Katz March 28, 2019 at 4:36 pm / Reply

      We do not know of any one particular applicator to recommend. They should all do the job, just make sure they can fit/screw on to the tube of the preparation you are using, and have markings should you need to only use a particular amount. Just out of curiosity, didn’t the contraceptive gel come with its own applicator?

  • Janice March 20, 2019 at 3:16 am / Reply

    can i use the same applicator (1) for 5 days in a row at night for metronidazole gel for Bacteria Vaginitis. I do not have any more applicators and it states to throw away after use. But I thought cleaning it thoroughly may be an option.. thanks

    • Ditza Katz March 20, 2019 at 7:04 pm / Reply

      Typically speaking, you can reuse an applicator over and over provided you cleaned it promptly. We are not sure why the medication did not come with enough applicators if they said to throw each out after each use.

  • Mary February 3, 2019 at 1:05 am / Reply

    My doctor prescribed estradiol vagina cream USP with the applicator it hurts to insert the applicator is there something I can put on the applicator before I Inserted into my vagina so it will not hurt

    • Ditza Katz February 4, 2019 at 3:33 pm / Reply

      Put a bit of the estradiol cream on the tip of the applicator to help sliding it into you. If that is not helpful, speak with your doctor (or come to us if interested).

  • Ashley Darby November 18, 2018 at 4:07 pm / Reply

    I am using metronidazole vaginal gel USP, 0.75% can I reuse the applicator for this medication?

    • Ditza Katz November 24, 2018 at 9:31 pm / Reply

      Unless instructed otherwise, you can as long as you wash it promptly.

  • Alice Rauschkolb November 11, 2018 at 3:14 am / Reply

    A diagram in with the packaging would be VERY helpful!

  • Carolyn October 22, 2018 at 12:48 am / Reply

    But, what kind of soap to use? Used Dove and didn’t get all the soap out and ended up w/infection. Thanks!

    • Ditza Katz October 22, 2018 at 5:42 pm / Reply

      Any liquid soap will be fine as they all rinse out completely with warm water.

  • Marion August 30, 2018 at 12:16 pm / Reply

    Hi have just started to use ovestin and not sure how to pull apart applicater as i have tried And worried some may have gone past red line and i have took to much

    • Ditza Katz August 30, 2018 at 2:18 pm / Reply

      Typically, you pull out the plunger part from the barrel part; to reassemble, you push back the plunger into the barrel (you may feel a ‘pop’ when it goes through a catch area). Assuming the applicator is reusable (comes apart), there is risk in assembling/disassembling it as often as needed.

  • Regina June 25, 2018 at 6:08 pm / Reply

    Hallo. Can i have intercourse after i have just inserted the vaginal cream using the vaginal applicator? Thank you.

    • Ditza Katz June 25, 2018 at 6:13 pm / Reply

      That depends what was in the applicator… If lubrication or spermicide, then yes you may have intercourse. If estrogen or vaginal moisturizer that need to ‘work’ on the vagina overnight, then no.

  • Linda September 26, 2017 at 3:07 pm / Reply

    The new number is 1-800-678-1605. Choose option 5 and request estrace applicators. They will send you a month’s supply of disposable applicators. If you call monthly, they will send a new supply each month. I called today and will post after I receive.

  • nhl 17 coins August 15, 2016 at 3:37 pm / Reply

    I like reading your websites. Thanks a ton!

  • F.T. May 8, 2015 at 6:36 pm / Reply

    Brushes are no longer available through the company (called in May 2015).

    • Ditza Katz May 8, 2015 at 7:21 pm / Reply

      Thank you for bringing this to our attention.

  • Donna September 23, 2014 at 1:40 pm / Reply

    The new customer service number (since bought by Actavis) is 1-800-272-5525. They were extremely helpful, and it appears that once a month you can call and request 8 applicators. Apparently the request orders go in every Wednesday, so the best time to call is Mon. or Tues. to ensure your order will get in for that week. They were really helpful!

    • Rachelle February 4, 2015 at 5:19 pm / Reply

      Thank you for this valuable info! I called and place my order today.

    • Anita Woo August 23, 2017 at 2:40 pm / Reply

      I called and they don’t send out applicators as you suggested. Guess they changed their policy. I need applicators for a creme in a tube which requires a screw on applicator plunger. Any ideas where to get some? The manufacturer nir pharmacies sell them.

      • Ditza Katz August 23, 2017 at 5:46 pm / Reply

        Go to the drug store and buy a vaginal preparation (yeast medication, lubricant, etc.) that comes with an applicator. Discard the tube but use the applicator. Hoping this helps.

  • Cindi January 28, 2014 at 11:31 am / Reply

    I spoke to the company today, and they have been purchased by another company that is a little more strict on their policy, but they will send out 1 applicator and cleaning brush for frees.

  • Jennifer April 25, 2013 at 6:30 pm / Reply

    If you call the manufacturer of Estrace, they will send you additional applicators and/or a special brush to clean them, free of charge.

    • womentc May 1, 2013 at 4:43 pm / Reply

      Thank you, Jennifer, for this information, which we added to the this post.

  • Liwymi September 25, 2012 at 2:48 am / Reply

    Thanks for this, I didn’t realise the applicator could come apart!

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