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Tampons: Are They Safe and What Are the Alternatives?

Tampons have been considered an amazing product since they were created. They have allowed women the freedom to go through their daily activities without having to worry about their menstrual flow as well as not feeling the wet sensation pads sometimes cause. As long as they are changed every 4 hours or so, they are essentially leak proof as well. However, more women are becoming aware of the fact that while tampons are convenient, they may not be the safest option for their bodies.

Tampons are made of cotton and a synthetic material known as viscose rayon.  Companies utilize viscose rayon in their tampon products because it is more absorptive than using 100% cotton. This allows tampons to be more leak-proof, but it also has a very negative effect on a woman’s health.

Because of its powerful absorptive properties, viscose rayon highly concentrates menstrual proteins which allows the bacteria Staphylococcus aureus to grow and can cause toxic shock syndrome (TSS), which is extremely dangerous and can be fatal.  Studies have shown tampons made of 100% cotton are the safest as they have not shown to cause TSS, however tampons of any kind are abrasive and cause micro tears in the vaginal walls which poses another risk of introducing bacteria into the body.

Dioxins, which are a by-product of cotton and wood pulp bleaching, are found in tampons and pads. While the amount is very low in these products, continual exposure to dioxins will build up in the body. Dioxins have been linked with disrupting the endocrine system, impairing the immune system, and is also a known human carcinogen which can cause various types of cancer. Some products have been found to contain chemicals such as styrene (another known human carcinogen), and chloroform.

So what are the options? Many women are turning to products such as the “DivaCup” which is made out of silicone.  These products do not contain any latex, plastics, acrylics, pesticides, and are free of colors and dyes. They are durable, flexible and easy to sterilize and reuse. Another option some women are going to are companies like “THINX”. THINX is a company that makes 100% cotton menstrual underwear. Their underwear are said to feel dry, does not make you feel as though you are wearing a pad, are leak proof, and come in many different styles, so it makes you feel as though you are wearing your daily underwear. Ultimately, it is what works and feels right to you, however in our ever-changing world, there are more less risky options for menstrual products becoming available for women to pick and choose from.

If you want to learn more about women's health, contact the SCNM Medical Center.