• Stacia

Let's Talk About...Tampons

Disclaimer: I'm not a medical professional; I don't work for a tampon company; I have advanced degrees, but not in anything to do with this. I am simply one twenty something sharing my experience and my thoughts and my opinions.

Before we can really dive into a talk about tampons, I want to back up and explain how my brain got to this place. I've been in the process of moving across the country and as such have spent a lot of time in a car. By myself. So, I did what any logical twenty something would do - I listened to podcasts. One of the ones I happened to be listening to was talking about stress and the different kinds of stress our bodies are under.

Apparently there's a thing called "environmental stress." Essentially the stress that our body is under when it has to get rid of toxins. Which, to me, made sense. Now, before you roll your eyes and write me off as "too granola" to keep reading, wait. Here's the thing - there are a lot of toxins out there. However, there are also a lot of great things out: advances in the medical field, transportation, and electricity are pretty high up on the list for me. I'm not saying that we could ever get to a point where we are living a complete non toxic life. I mean, I'm cool with the fact that my mattress has flame retardants on it. I'd like for it to not explode into a majillion flames instantly killing me in my sleep. Yes, these are the trade-offs I go over in my mind.

I decided at the start of this year that one of the reasons I wanted to get my health together (and I don't mean just eating right and working out, but that's another post) because I know at some point my husband and I want kids. I also know that having a child "late" in life (aka anytime after your 30th birthday) can be a big thing. So, I want to be in the best health possible. In thinking about all the ways I can do that (in addition to working out and eating right) I took a long hard look at the products I use everyday - from shampoo to scrubbing bubbles.

I decided that I'd start slow so that I don't get overwhelmed.

And next thing I knew, I was in the tampon section at Target because I'm a woman and have a need for such products. I found myself fascinated by the fact that there were "organic cotton tampons" that were "free from..." a whole bunch of things. Uhm, what exactly is in tampons besides cotton and a bit of plastic (or cardboard if you are a glutton for punishment)? Oh did I have a lot to learn...

First of all, don't even tell me that your body doesn't absorb things that are in the tampons. I think the college students who soaked them in vodka in order to get drunk without drinking proved that for us. Now, I get that the FDA has done testing and shown that there are very trace amounts of chemicals in tampons. I get that there are some well reasoned rebuttals to the arguments MOST people make for organic all cotton tampons. SO, I'm not going to both using those arguments here. If you want to know what those arguments are, this 2016 article from TIME can fill you in.

So my reason for using them:

  1. Yes, the chemical amounts might be trace amounts, but where else am I getting trace amounts of those chemicals? And how much are they adding up to? How much overall and over time? And how much work is my body having to do to remove that trace amount that could be spent towards something else?

  2. If Tampax and Kotex (no hate here, just naming the popular brands) didn't have anything "worth hiding" in their original tampons, why did they release special "cotton only" tampons to compete with the boutique brands? Why not just be like "yep, we don't have that stuff either and we can prove it?" Yeah...

  3. The "cotton only" ones such as L aren't as absorbent. While I know it seems strange that that would be a good thing, it makes me wonder what is in the others that makes them SO absorbent? Like what chemical magic are you hiding?

  4. After reading that rayon is simply wood pulp, I can't help but wonder how they get that tree pulp to feel like cotton AND I now can't get over the mental image of a crushed up tree. I get this reason is totally irrational, but hey, you've stuck around this long.

When I word vomited all of this to my husband the other day I also explained how tampons are considered a medical device, so they aren't required to share their ingredients. He was shocked that I'd been carrying this cognitive load. So here's the thing, if I'm in a pinch, I'll use whatever I can find (looking at you cardboard applicator tampons I bought at the Denver Airport). However, if I have a choice, I'll probably be sticking to the "cotton only" type if for nothing more than "feeling better" about a product I am literally putting into my body.

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