If you’re a female who uses tampons, you were likely taught to use them early on and weren’t really presented with other choices—besides pads.
But have you ever wondered if tampons are actually safe for you? It’s easy to trust those smiling girls in the tampon commercials and the fun, stylish packages. But the devil is truly in the details—and those details aren’t too pretty.
The average woman has 450 periods during her lifetime. That’s a lot of time with something inside your body!
You owe it to yourself to understand how tampons use can directly affect your body and your health, right? So here are some real areas of concern to consider about using tampons:
1. Chemicals and Toxins
You’ve probably noticed that most tampons are really white. While this does give them a clean, “pure” look, that pristine presentation comes at a cost.
Companies usually achieve that ivory color in tampons by using chlorine bleach. This process can form a byproduct called dioxin. Although the levels of dioxin found in tampons are generally low, even trace levels can cause problems including:
- Abnormal cell growth in the body
- Abnormal tissue growth in the reproductive organs and abdomen
- Developmental impairment
- Disruption of the endocrine and hormone system
- Suppression of the immune system
A report from the EPA has shown there’s no level of exposure to dixon that has been deemed as “safe,” so it seems the best choice is to try and avoid it altogether.
The same goes for tampons with fragrances and odor neutralizers. They may smell great, but unfortunately it means the chemicals and artificial fragrances used are entering your body each time you use them. And since tampons are categorized as “medical devices” in the U.S., companies aren’t required to list out the exact ingredients they use.
Besides that, most conventional tampons are made of cotton that has been sprayed with pesticides and likely contains genetically-modified organisms (GMOs). (The USDA reports 94% of cotton in the U.S. is genetically modified.)
This might not seem like a big deal because you aren’t eating the GMOs, but it can actually be worse. Since the vaginal wall is really absorbent, there’s a higher chance of substances entering your bloodstream.
2. Toxic Shock Syndrome
Many people have heard of toxic shock syndrome (TSS), but few truly know what it is. The truth is TSS is a life-threatening illness caused by bacteria or poisonous toxins.
When you insert tampons, they can cause micro-tears in the wall of your vagina. The vagina normally contains harmless bacteria, but the tears can release that bacteria into the bloodstream and can sometimes release potentially fatal toxins.
Women below the age of 30, especially teenagers, are most affected by TSS, but the risk is present for anyone who uses tampons—especially if they are left in too long or overnight.
Someone with TSS may experience:
- A huge drop in blood pressure (leading to shock)
- High fever that comes on suddenly
- Muscle aches
- Redness on the mouth, eyes, or throat
- Rash on the feet or soles of feet
Plus, someone who has been a victim of TSS holds a higher likelihood of losing hair and limbs, having miscarriages, severe damage to organs, and other critical health problems. Clearly, the syndrome is serious.
3. Environmental Impact
Besides being a risk to our bodies, the toxic byproducts (like dioxin) made when producing tampons are bad for the environment too.
Plus, disposable tampons and pads are clogging up the Earth’s waterways and landfills. Did you know each tampon you use will stick around far longer than you’ll be alive? It takes hundreds of years for tampons to biodegrade, especially if they contain plastic wrappers.
And that’s not even considering the amount of chemicals and resources required to manufacture tampons themselves.
Thankfully, we now have access to more safe, sustainable—and comfortable—options. The LENA Cup allows you to avoid the dangers of tampons and have a chemical-free, worry-free, and overall better period.
By Lauren Stewart