Stamps – Do you know the dangers?
We all know that tampons can cause Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS), but who would say they can cause infertility? I said “may” because no independent studies have been done. I’ve always wondered how safe tampons really are and am curious if tampons can affect a woman’s fertility. For five years I suffered from infertility and since then I have been looking for all possible reasons why I suffered so long and why I developed endometriosis.
To help answer some of my specific questions about the dangers of tampons, I spoke with Dr. Philip M. Tierno, Jr .: Director of Clinical Microbiology and Diagnostic Immunology at Tisch Hospital, New York University Medical Center. He is an expert on the dangers of tampons.
Here are some highlights from my interview:
1. Alicia: “How do tampons cause Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS)?”
Dr. Tierno: “The material in the tampon can produce Staphylococcus aureus bacteria and this leads to toxic shock.” Note: If this bacteria is not killed by the antibodies in our bloodstream, then TSS can occur. Some symptoms are: sudden fever (102 F or higher) and vomiting, diarrhea, fainting or near fainting when standing up, dizziness, and a rash that looks like a sunburn.
2. Alicia: “Is it true that there is an increase in TSS?”
Dr. Tierno: “That’s true. But it never went away. Tampon manufacturers have removed 3 of the 4 dangerous synthetic components. The 3 removed components were polyester, carboxymethylcellulose, and polyacrylate rayon. Highly absorbent viscose rayon is still used. Viscose Rayon is the least of the 4 evils, but it still produces toxins.
Part of the problem is that women are choosing to wear tampons at night. They don’t set their alarm clocks to wake up and change their buffers, so they stick around much longer than they should. They should not stay longer than six hours.
Manufacturers have also increased the absorbent density. Now they have ultra absorbent tampons. [The more absorbent the tampon, the higher chance you have of developing TSS. Therefore, use the lowest absorbent tampon you can get away with and change it frequently]. “
3. Alice: “Does anyone know what tampons are made of other than the manufacturer?”
Dr. Teirno: “No.”
Note: The FDA says it is proprietary information and therefore cannot be disclosed. Interesting, right? You know what is in your hand lotion, but you have no idea what you put into your body.
4. Alicia: “Have there been any independent tests on the overall safety of tampons?”
Dr. Teirno: “No. Nobody has given the money to a scientist to do the research.”
5. Alicia: “Has there been any movement on the” Tampon Investigation and Safety Act of 1999? “
Dr. Teirno: “That is a good question [he is laughing]. “
Alicia: “Is it because the companies you are up against are multi-billion dollar companies?”
Dr. Teirno: He laughs and says, “Try billion dollar companies. You should call Carolyn Maloney. She would answer that question for you.”
Note: Ms. Maloney has been trying to push this bill forward and it continues to be shelved. She requests INDEPENDENT studies on the safety of tampons. All the research done so far comes from the manufacturers themselves. In the 76+ years of tampons on the market, there has not been ONE independent test done!
Let me make sure you understand: tampons have been on the market since 1933 and NO independent study has been done on their safety. All the studies carried out are by the tampon manufacturers themselves. I have since learned that the FDA does not conduct the tests itself. They are simply based on what the manufacturer informs them.
6. Alice: “I know dioxin was a big concern before the manufacturers said they had changed the bleaching process. However, I would like to know about the millions of women who used tampons years before the change, how do the dioxins from the body? “
Dr. Teirno: “They are absorbed in the vagina and some [not all] of it will be detoxified through the liver. Even small amounts of dioxin are of concern because tampons come in contact with some of the most absorbent tissues in the body. Furthermore, the effects of dioxins are cumulative and can be measured 20 to 30 years after exposure. “
Note: While the whitening process has changed in recent years, dioxin is still found in tampons (even those made from 100% cotton). The EPA states that due to decades of contamination, dioxin can be found in air, water, and soil. This means that traces can be found in the wood pulp or cotton raw materials used to make tampons. Currently, the FDA requires tampon manufacturers to monitor dioxin levels, but as I already mentioned, the results are not available to the public.
7. Alicia: “Do you think tampons can cause endometriosis?”
Dr. Teirno: “Dioxin is a known cause of endometriosis. Altered hormones can also be a cause. Another theory is that menstrual tissue is pushed up the fallopian tubes. [and exits into the body and starts to grow outside of the uterus]. “
Alice: “Can tampons make the tissue push up?”
Dr. Teirno: “A tampon can back up the liquid once the tampon is full and the liquid can build up. The liquid can be pushed up naturally. [but a tampon can also be a factor]. “
Note: Dr. Teirno said that the most popular theory is that women have a genetic disposition for death.
8. Alice: “Can dioxin develop cysts inside a woman’s body?”
Dr. Teirno: “Dioxins can lead to tumor growth”
9. Alicia: “What is dangerous about the fibers that remain after you remove the tampon? Do they contain silicone?”
Dr. Teirno: “We don’t know. However, these fibers can cause odor and inflammation. If a woman has chronic inflammation, it can lead to infertility.”
It was an interview that opened my eyes. Dr. Tierno said that dioxin is a known cause of endometriosis. However, the mere presence of a tampon can also be a cause. This goes back to my instinct for the normalcy of a tampon. I often wondered how safe it really was for menstrual fluid to stay and accumulate in a woman’s uterus and to have a synthetic material there as well. I have learned enough to feel that there may be some links between tampons and infertility, either direct or indirect. However, we will never know for sure until the studies are done.
If you are going to use tampons, doctors suggest using organic, 100% cotton tampons. Regular cotton tampons can contain pesticides and other contaminants. You should use low absorbency tampons and switch between pads and tampons frequently. This might be more than you wanted to know about tampons, but you need to know.