If you get your period, or live with someone who does, you might be aware of how everything works in cycles, including needing a little extra support from “medical devices” (tampons are actually categorized as so). Do you know what they are made of?
Tampons can be convenient, discreet, and easy to use, wear, and dispose of. But…
Not all tampons are created equal.
Tampons can actually be pretty dangerous for our bodies, our vaginas, and the environment, despite being one of the most frequently used feminine hygiene products. We don’t share these things to scare you … we just feel that you would want to know these things even though our government and the manufacturers/retailers/marketers don’t seem to care about us enough to make and sell tampons.
Ingredients don’t need to be listed on tampons because they are considered medical devices, which means that they are not required to disclose anything to us! There are newer brands out there who pledge transparency and disclose ingredients, but when it comes to the “bigger manufacturers”, do you think they’re up for telling us, the consumer and user, information they don’t legally have to? Imagine what that would do for sales?
So what are conventional tampons made of? You don’t know? How is that possible? How is this legal? Who is in charge of this? Some experts say that tampons belong on a growing list of “potentially hazardous personal care products.” Most tampons are a mix of rayon and conventionally grown cotton, often bleached with chlorine. Conventional tampons contain pesticides, phthalates, fragrance, dyes and dioxins (the WHO calls dioxins “highly toxic”) — what?!?! Toxic is an understatement.
Tampons are inserted into such a sensitive and absorbent part of your body! And what about the time of month or the pubescent body?! Vaginas are like sponges! Vaginal tissue is lined with mucous membranes and blood vessels that absorb whatever we put in there (reread that!). If you leave a tampon in for too long, you can run the risk of contracting a bacteria-induced infection. Remember when you were scared by your health teacher about dying from Toxic Shock Syndrome for leaving a tampon in too long? Perhaps the warning needed to be about the actual tampon! You probably won’t get sick and die from Toxic Shock Syndrome by sleeping with a tampon in, but if you use highly absorbent conventional tampons in your highly absorbent vagina and bacteria starts breeding and enters your bloodstream, you could get a yeast infection or any other type of nasty infection. Dr. Tierno from New York University Medical School says you can get TSS from synthetic tampons … but not from 100% organic cotton tampons … something to consider.
Also of importance, some tampons come with a plastic applicator that is functional for no more than a few seconds, and then lives on in landfills forever. And what about the plastic and microplastics that are used in your highly absorbent vagina? Think of how many tampons you use per period x per year x in a lifetime – that’s a LOT of plastic, toxic stuff and landfill affecting us all!
Choose 100% organic cotton tampons without an applicator (or a biodegradable applicator) or a reusable option.
Organic cotton tampons are just as effective, and are free of chlorine, pesticides, rayon, plastics and dyes, and are compostable and biodegradable. Choosing organic supports organic practices. Empathy Economics in play. Best practice, choose the lowest absorbency needed, and change your tampon every 4-6 hours. You can also consider reusable options … keep in mind that these are REALLY popular, and possibly just a new thing to consider. Consider it!
What’s the solution? I recommend ditching tampons for a reusable menstrual cup that’s made from medical grade silicone … it’s the cheaper, healthier, and environmentally kind option. If you’re going to continue using tampons (always or for travel and convenience), please, at the least, protect yourself and buy tampons from transparent, health-forward companies who willingly disclose their ingredient list, care about their customers, and are about solving an environmental crisis!
Whatever you do, please be mindful about what you’re putting inside your vagina and pass this on to someone you care about. That’s Wellness Intelligence, and it might just change their life.