What Is In Your Tampon?

The average woman uses approximately 9,600 tampons over her lifetime -- which can get very expensive, very fast. For a lot of women, running to the grocery store or drug store to pick up a box of their usual tampons does not involve much research in the ingredient department. As a college student, I usually gravitate towards the cheaper options. When it’s your time of the month, ingredients are the last of your concern -- and I can personally vouch for that. However, while tampons are convenient, more absorbent and less messy than pads, there is a threat that a lot of women are unaware of. 

Tampon and pad manufacturers are not required to list the ingredients in their products on their packaging, even though they are in contact with the most sensitive part of a woman’s body. This may not be a surprise though -- there is not much regulation on cosmetic products, either. In fact, New York is the first state in the nation to pass a bill that requires a printed list of all of the ingredients on menstrual products sold in the state. The Menstrual Products Right To Know Act, created by assembly member Linda Rosenthal, was officially signed on October 11, 2019. It will come into effect in 180 days, and if the products do not have a list of ingredients on their packaging, they will not be permitted to be sold in New York. 

 

 

Because the vaginal walls are extremely absorbent, any chemicals that are in a tampon can make their way into the bloodstream. While there is not any research if chemicals found in tampons can impact a woman’s health, it is debatable if it is worth the possible risk to ignore them completely. 

During the bleaching process, a chemical called dioxin is produced and can actually be detected in small amounts in tampons. Because the level of dioxins is low, it is safe by FDA standards. However, some believe it should still be a concern because the problem is not a case of a single exposure -- women use thousands of tampons over their lifetime. Dioxin is one of the most dangerous chemicals on the planet and research has proven that even a small amount can cause damage. It is debatable if it really is safe, considering how many tampons are used in a lifetime. However, nothing has proven that they aren’t.  

Another growing issue is the idea of scented tampons. Similar to beauty products, when a manufacturer lists ‘fragrance’ in the list of ingredients, they are not required to list what exactly is in the fragrance. Usually, the fragrance is a mixture of different chemicals and ingredients and none of which are listed. These products are marketed for the common insecurity of a ‘smelly vagina’. Even though scented tampons are intended to make you smell better, they can actually do the exact opposite -- and even worse. For some women, scented tampons can cause swelling, rashes and even affect your vaginal pH balance. This can lead to yeast infections or bacterial vaginosis.  

With the lack of information in this area, it is hard to determine if ingredients in tampons are a serious or threatening concern. But there is one thing to be certain of: you can never be too cautious when it comes to your reproductive organs. 

 

 

For a list of organic tampon options, click here.

 

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Edited by Madison Greer