What Are Tampons Made Of? Even The Experts Don’t Have A Complete Answer
I suppose in some cases, ignorance is truly bliss. But when it comes to inserting things into my bikini zone, I believe it's best to stay well-informed. While I've been using reusable period products for quite some time now, tampons were my preferred choice for years, and I still pop one in from time to time when that time of the month rolls around. However, it recently came to my attention that, unlike most other things I put on and inside my body, I don't know actually know what tampons are made of. I mean, do you?
While it might seem obvious, it's actually not. In many cases, a tampon is far from a benign little plug made from well-farmed organic cotton.
Elite Daily spoke with OBGYN Dr. Angela Jones (she goes by Dr. Angela and partners with THINX), who stresses the importance of knowing exactly what you put in your body:
Products such as tampons and sanitary pads have been accused of being composed of things such as dioxin, furan, and more, many of which are known carcinogens (including those two I just mentioned). Most tampons are made of non-organic cotton and rayon. There can be lots of chemicals.
But this is what Dr. Angela is mainly concerned about:
The issue with a lot of menstrual care products that contain various synthetic fibers, additives, and chemicals as noted above is that, cumulatively, they may pose increased risks to women, such as cancer.
Dr. Angela adds that it's really difficult to come up with a direct "cause and effect" relationship between potential carcinogens in tampons and serious health issues, and there's an important reason why.
Manufacturers aren't required to disclose the ingredients in their products.
At best, many tampon boxes merely suggest that their products may contain substances like rayon or polyester -- or they say nothing at all.
Plus, while tampon boxes often warn against toxic shock syndrome --a potentially fatal syndrome caused by bacterial growth -- they leave out the fact that this risk increases when tampons have a greater absorbency (think: super plus sized tampons), which research shows is, indeed, the case.
And what exactly makes larger tampons different and more absorbent?
Yes, the absorbency has to do with the size of the tampon, but it's also related to the synthetic additives.
Dr. Angela tells Elite Daily that, as women have become more educated on what's actually in these products, alternative products such as period undies, menstrual cups, and organic tampons have become more mainstream and widely used.
Elite Daily also had a chance to speak with Jonna Piira on the topic. Piira is the CEO and co-founder of Kali, a delivery subscription service for 100 percent chemical-free, organic cotton tampons, and a major mission of her company, she says, is to help empower and educate women about the choices they make on a day-to-day basis regarding what they put into their bodies. It was important to her to be totally transparent with customers.
In this context, Piira asks an important question: “Why use products in the most sensitive spot in your body that have unknown ingredients?”
Well, hopefully, common practice around access to menstrual products and their ingredients will change as time goes on. And things are on their way, even if slowly. Period Equity, a group of health activists focused on policy around menstrual access, equity, and safety, aren't standing for tampon manufacturers' non-disclosure. In fact, they're demanding that listing ingredients on a tampon box becomes a requirement in the business.
Let's hope someone actually listens to them.