Are your tampons hurting you?

MoonTimesMenstrual Health, Musings

Many women don’t think twice about using tampons, they’re easy, convenient and let you keep going with normal life when you bleed. Sure, we all know about the potential risk of Toxic Shock Syndrome, but the risks are relatively small if you use your tampons properly. So they’re safe, right?

Well, unfortunately, no they’re not. Most of us probably presume that tampons are just a tightly squished up roll of cotton with a string on the end, well, no they’re not.


Tampons, as far as we know are made of a mixture of cotton and rayon, possibly with other synthetic fibres.  I say as a far as we know, the truth is that the manufacturers are not required to list the ingredients used in their manufacture and there are increasingly loud campaigns calling for manufacturers to be required to list the ingredients on the box and allow women to be fully informed.

Tests have shown that some tampons contain dyes, fragrances and preservatives. In order for tampons to be pure white the fibres have to be bleached.  Did you realise you were inserting a chemical cocktail into your vagina up to 10 times a day, for five to seven days every month?  With up to 500 menstrual cycles in a womans lifetime, thats a lot of chemical exposure.

The tissues inside the vagina aren’t like normal skin, its a highly permeable, delicate mucous membrane and anything it comes into contact with is absorbed into the body really quickly, direct to the bloodstream.  While it can be argued we are all exposed to chemicals everyday, why would we choose to increase our exposure in this way?

We know that the chemicals found in tampons, dioxins especially, can cause hormone disruption, fertility issues, immune system repression and even cancers.  Added to the risk to human health, we’re harming the earth too.  Tampons take decades to bio-degrade and given the hundreds of thousands of them thrown away into landfill every year, there is an ongoing slow release of all those chemicals into the soil and water of the earth too.

The things is, there are alternatives, there are re-usable tampons, menstrual cups and menstrual sponges, all of which are friendly to your body and the environment, and over the lifetime of a menstruating woman are friendly to your bank balance too! They are as easy and convenient as modern tampons, without the toxic consequences. Why not set the intention that in 2016 you’ll keep your vagina and the earth healthy, make the switch, ditch the disposables and don’t look back.

(c) Awen Clement – January 2016

Background research for this article was done via the Womens Environmental Network and Women’s Voices for the Earth