Everyone knows most tampons are sticks of synthetic, bleached fibers treated with a bunch of chemicals that we shove up our vaginas. What could be worse for women than that?
Despite being unattractive and generally a taboo subject among men and women alike, tampons have a lot of other factors that make them ugly sticks of death. Many of them are made by huge corporations that are infamous for testing on animals, use chemicals that are known carcinogens and increase the risk for toxic shock syndrome and sexually transmitted infections.
Your tampons are looking less sexy than ever. And truth be told, they just might be harming your health.
1. Dioxin: A Known Carcinogen In Your Most Sacred Space
Dioxins are a group of chemicals that are recognized as known carcinogens by the International Agency for Research on Cancer. Dioxin is actually a by-product of chlorine, which is produced when the synthetic fibers used to make tampons are bleached. Years ago, tampons were made of 100 percent cotton. This material was probably much safer than the synthetic fibers used in tampon manufacturing today.
Tampons are now made out of rayon and viscose, both of which are totally manmade. Rayon is actually a woody fiber, and it needs to be altered quite a bit before it's ready to be inserted into your most sacred space. Part of this prepping process if bleaching the rayon, which produces dioxin. Yes, that's right; a known carcinogen is right by your cervix.
Contemporary tampons are produced using a chlorine-free process using chlorine dioxide, and although this process is meant to reduce or eliminate the dioxin, it does a poor job at doing either. Although the FDA says there's no “toxic level” of dioxin in tampons, it does caution consumers they should use tampons bearing the risks in mind.
The World Health Organization details the risks of being exposed to dioxide, from liver damage and cancer to damaging a fetus, dioxins are not chemicals you want to tango with. And this is just one aspect of tampons — besides the animal testing and increased risk for other health problems — that make them a less-than-ideal choice for women menstruating.
2. Risk For Sexually Transmitted Infections And Toxic Shock Syndrome
Did you know that there's an increased risk for sexually transmitted infections when using tampons? This happens because the fibers used in tampons are actually pretty rough. Even when inserted into your vagina, the tampon expands and presses against your vaginal wall. Small pieces of the rayon can actually cut your vaginal wall.
During intercourse, this means bacteria and viruses have direct access to your bloodstream, therefore increasing your risk of contracting a sexually transmitted infection. I don't know about you, but I don't really want small cuts in my vagina that could mean I get an STI.
Let's talk about toxic shock syndrome now. Toxic shock syndrome is just another lovely problem that rayon creates in our bodies. Basically, conventional brands have stopped using natural cotton in favor of using synthetic rayon fiber for tampons. So now, we must accept the risk that rayon creates an ideal environment for extremely toxic bacteria to directly impact our bodies. This can lead to major organ failure and death, all at the result of using tampons.
3. Let's Ditch The Chemicals: Alternatives To Tampons
I know you hate pads because I hate pads. We can all agree that, although reusable, organic cotton pink polka-dot pads might be amazing for absorption and even comfortable, you just don't want the feeling of bleeding all over yourself during the day. Right? Right.
So, listen up. There are several alternatives you can use during that time of the month. One of them is the menstrual cup. You can buy natural rubber or 100 percent medical-grade silicone cup. Either way, there's no known health risks of using them.
The menstrual cup is a small cup that's inserted into your vagina and provides leak-free protection for up to 12 hours. It rests just under your cervix and catches your flow. Then, you remove and empty the cup. It's easy and eco-friendly.
You may also choose to use natural, organic cotton tampons. I would encourage you to choose organic to avoid pesticides in your vagina. (Not a penis friendly place there, lad.)
Sea sponges, while not vegan-friendly, are certainly an option, and they help to absorb your flow as well.
With so many options, why would you ever pick to suffer through the health risks that many tampons create with dioxin, STIs and TSS? Ditch them. Safe, eco-friendly options are available. Forget about those tampons, and find some alternatives. Your body will thank you.