If you’re like many women, you’ve been using conventional tampons and pads for years without really thinking about it much. I used to be one of these women. Then, I went through a phase in my life where I discovered that pretty much every hygienic product I used was not only tested on animals, but contained dangerous ingredients. Guess what? Tampons and pads made this list.
But what else could a woman possibly use besides tampons and pads for that time of the month?
Fear not, my lady friends. We’ll discover all that and more in this eye-opening article. It’s time to pick up that pretty packaged stick and have a good hard look at what tampons are doing to our bodies.
Why Are Tampons Dangerous?
What comes in pretty colors, is bad for the environment, even worse for your body, and tests on animals? Well, many things would fit this description, but I’m talking about tampons!
I know what you’re thinking: how in the the world do companies test tampons on animals? Well, they don’t actually. They test the amount of bleach and chemicals such as dioxin that have been used to make your tampon pretty and white on the animals. Like anyone else should have to suffer because I’m bleeding and have menstrual cramps!
Tampons are dangerous because dioxin, a chemical used in a gas process to make your tampon fiber white, can stay in your body for something like 30 years. Dioxin can cause cancer, hormonal problems, and infertility (http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs225/en/). Formerly made of cotton, tampons are now made of synthetic fibers in order to help with absorbency. These include rayon and viscose. Sorry, if you thought they were still being made from cotton, you must have been born in the 70s!
The Chemical Process of Making Tampons
So what happens when converting rayon and viscose into your lovely tampon? Chemicals, basically. They happen. Hundreds of them. Bleaching of the rayon has recently been changed to chlorine-free bleaching, but it’s now chlorine dioxide that they use in there. Which admittedly, is supposed to get rid of the dioxin, but it doesn’t. And even the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has claimed that there’s no safe level of dioxin exposure. (http://www.ejnet.org/dioxin/)
Dioxin isn’t just one chemical. It’s hundreds of them, and they’re all toxic. (Yes, dioxin is a known human carcinogen: http://www.breastcancerfund.org/clear-science/radiation-chemicals-and-breast-cancer/dioxins.html?referrer=https://www.google.com/). Dioxin is also used in making pesticides, bleaching, and incineration. These all definitely sound like something you want associated with the most private part of your body, right?
Oh wait, I almost forgot! Tampons don’t just come with these chemicals, they also come with fake fragrances as well. Oh, boy! Because instead of smelling like a human, I want to smell like a chemical cesspool. Right. Thanks, Proctor and Gamble!
Toxic Shock Syndrome—The Nightmare You Didn’t Take Seriously
Again, if you’re like many women, you’ve given that Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS) warning label that comes with each package of tampons a passing glance, but not much thought beyond that.
It’s time to think about it. I’ll help!
So Toxic Shock Syndrome happens because of the fibers used in tampons. Rayon is responsible for the onset of TSS, because it allows bacteria to grow that wouldn’t otherwise be there. The rayon and its chemicals leave high levels of proteins that bacteria need to be poisonous to your body. You might feel like you have the flu with some dizziness or nausea, a fever, or even throwing up. Basically, it’s wear at your own risk, says the FDA: http://www.fda.gov/MedicalDevices/Safety/AlertsandNotices/PatientAlerts/ucm070003.htm
However, this quickly moves to major organ failure (your liver and kidneys), then you die.
Yes, I just said you can die from using tampons. You girls knew this, surely? Your mom, girlfriends, or another graceful woman in your life told you?
Rayon and Your Risk for STDs
The use of rayon in your vagina can increase your risk for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Didn’t know that, did you?
What happens is that your disgusting, chemical-laced tampon is getting shoved into your vagina, then the tampon expands, which allows the rayon to push against your cervix and your vaginal wall to create small cuts and even fibers that are left behind upon removal (don’t believe me? Try it in a glass of water: http://www.meghantelpner.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/10/tampax-tampons.pdf )
So with the cuts, your tiny pieces of tampon that are eating away at your vagina, and a horde of chemicals, you could just be exposing yourself to some of the most dangerous and carcinogenic crap on the planet.
With sexually transmitted diseases, the cuts allow for an increased risk of getting an STD because all the sudden bacteria have a direct path into your bloodstream. Yikes!
Alternatives (They’re Super Fun!)
I didn’t mean that sarcastically—yes, they are super fun! You are about to have your mind blown, girl.
When I was looking at alternatives to tampons, one of the first things I stumbled across was the menstrual cup. I was fascinated—a tiny cup that goes up your vagina? I’m in, right? Yes. So I order one. Little did I know it would put me on the journey of my life. (http://www.elephantjournal.com/2015/09/how-the-menstrual-cup-changed-my-period/)
The menstrual cup is a small cup made out of either natural latex rubber or medical-grade silicone, both of which have no known toxicity effects on the body. You simply fold it, insert it, and it pops open inside you, catching your flow. You can wear it for up to 12 hours with no leaking! There are so many different kinds out there, so check them out!
If the thought of putting a small cup up your vagina freaks you out, you can also use organic tampons that are made with non-GMO cotton. These tampons should have no dyes, rayon, or fake fragrances. Check the label to be sure they’re organic cotton and chlorine-free (and cruelty-free!). They’re just like your old crappy tampons, but they don’t carry the health risks!
Other options include:
- Cloth, reusable pads. These come in fun colors and designs and are eco-friendlier!
- Sea sponge tampons. From the ocean floor, these sea sponges are highly renewable and are inserted like a tampon, and can even be reused! Note: not vegan friendly.
It’s Easy, Right? No Chemicals in my Vag
If you’d like to have a chemical-free vagina, reduce your risk for STDs, and not worry about suddenly up-and-dying from TSS, make the switch. It’s not that hard. Menstrual cups will force you to get more familiar with your anatomy—it’s fun, educational, and you’ll never go back!
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