I used my first tampon at the age of 21. I remember asking my roommate for a stick just to be ‘experimental’. I have heavy flow and it seemed like the regular pad was not as reliable as I hoped it would be. Using both a tampon and a sanitary pad became the perfect defense against my ridiculous heavy flow and felt more comfortable than having to double my pads (yes I use two pads at the same time just to avoid getting stained).
Tampons have become very popular sanitary products among young girls and women however, not much is being discussed about the health complications that could occur as a result of using tampons.
Tampons are menstrual hygiene products designed to absorb blood during your menstrual period. They are inserted into your vagina usually with an applicator, however there are tampons that don’t require an applicator for insemination. ‘So how could this little product cause any harm?’ you might ask, well here are five reasons why you should be a little weary about tampons, and why you should care about the ingredients that go into making them.
1) Full disclosure of the ingredients used to make tampons are not mandatory. While there are many tampon companies that display a list of ingredients on their packages, it is not mandated for them to release a complete list of all ingredients put into their products. This shows that tampons are not as regulated as they should be and it nearly exists as a somewhat unregulated sector.
2) Often times, the pesticides and chemicals used for harvesting the materials for making tampons are very harmful and dangerous. A vast majority of these pesticides and chemicals contaminate the cotton used to make tampons of very popular brands. These harmful substances may be absorbed into your body via the use of tampons. Some of these chemicals which are found in most tampons are rayon, plastic, chlorine, methylene chloride, carbon disulfide and many more. Now imagine how much of these chemicals and pesticides are absorbed into your bloodstream… not pretty at all.
3) The vagina is extremely absorbing, she’s like a fluffy kitty cat thus, the vagina is more than capable of absorbing any chemical placed inside it. Women’s Voices For The Earth, explains in a blog that the membranes in the vagina are filled with blood vessels, which allows any chemical exposed to be easily absorbed into your bloodstream. Furthermore, whatever chemical is laced into tampons; harmful or not, can easily find itself into our bloodstreams through our vagina.
4) Tampons can cause Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS). How do they cause TSS? A lot of tampon companies use chlorine which is used to whiten and disinfect the raw materials used for its production, however chlorine leaves behind dioxin residues in the fibers of the tampon. These dioxins are cancer-causing agents, so when we pull out a tampon from our vaginas, little parts of these fibers break off from it and are left inside the vagina canal, often creating a breeding ground for bacteria and this leads to Toxic Shock Syndrome. So why do companies opt for chlorine as a disinfectant? Is it the only available sterilizing option? Well the answer is NO.
A lot of companies use chlorine because it is cheaper. Organic based tampons make use of hydrogen peroxide, which is a natural and safer sterilizing agent, however it is more expensive. That is why many companies go for chlorine despite the health complications associated with it.
5) Tampons contain a lot of plastic. When your vagina is exposed to that amount of plastic it can lead to various health risks such as disruption of embryonic development, which is caused by chemicals such as BPA and BPS which are also linked to heart disease and cancer. Other plastic substances such as phthalates dysregulate gene expression, DEHP can lead to multiple organ damage. The synthetics create an air tight environment for your vagina, trapping heat and dampness which gives rooms for yeast infection and bacteria growth. Asides from the damages the plastics can cause to your body, they can also be very harmful to the environment and lead to more environmental pollution especially when they are not disposed properly (if you know you are part of the lot that flush your tampons, I beseech thee to abstain from such a disgusting practice, dispose your tampons properly; wrap it and throw it in the trash).
Despite these scary facts about tampons, there are still ways of reducing the risks of having any health implications from them. First things first, and this might be the most common of them all; CHANGE YOUR TAMPONS REGULARLY. I cannot over emphasis this. Do not use one tampon for the whole day, you should change them within four to eight hours irrespective of how much flow you have (and remember sis, don’t flush your tampons).
Secondly, avoid using super absorbent tampons because this may tempt you to leave it in there for too long which will be upping your risk for bacteria growth and yeast infection, amongst other health implications.
Thirdly, opt for more organic tampons. Just like how we love buying fresh fruits instead of processed drinks, we should also be more mindful when shopping for tampons and other sanitary wears. Organic tampons contain less harmful materials and are more environmental friendly.
Last but not least, avoid sleeping overnight with a tampon. Use a trusted sanitary pad instead.
Tampons are not scary or evil but they sure can cause some scary and evil things if left unchecked. Opt for better products when purchasing one, like chlorine free tampons. Companies that do not use chlorine as a disinfecting agent often brag about it on their packages. Take the necessary hygiene steps to safer usage of tampons.