Fact or Fiction; Are Tampons Dangerous?

When we are young girls our menstrual cycle creeps up on us sometimes without any warning. Though schools offer some education on the subject the majority of the information we receive comes from our mothers. We live in an age when we can find anything on the Internet but when I was young there was no such thing as the Internet so I had to go with what my mother told me.

Luckily for me my mom is a nurse so what she told me was extremely accurate. She told me the pros and cons of each type of protection and allowed me to decide what I wanted to use. Today a young girl may find a wild array of information about tampons on the Internet and sadly a lot of it may not be true.

I remember a year or so ago I received an email telling me that my tampons contain asbestos. Wow, what a scary thought! The email went on to say asbestos was used in tampons so that women would bleed more and thus, the company would sell more tampons. Another emailed warned that tampons that are not 100% cotton are dangerous due to dioxins. The risks of Toxic Shock Syndrome are printed right on a box of tampons but what does it really mean?

Asbestos In Tampons

This is a scary thought considering it is well known that asbestos causes cancer. My husband works in commercial construction and if asbestos is found in a building he is working on he cannot touch it. Special crews must be called in to remove it. The thought of something so dangerous being in tampons seems absurd. Rest assured there is no asbestos in your tampons.

I’ve looked and I cannot find one reliable source to back up this claim. The truth is that people love a good horror story and this myth grew most likely out of panic. The following statement can be found on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Website: “FDA has no evidence of asbestos in tampons or any reports regarding increased menstrual bleeding following tampon use.”
Rayon and Dioxins

There are also similar warnings about dioxins. Dioxins are by-products of rayon production. Rayon is essentially made of wood pulp. When the pulp is bleached it creates trace amounts of dioxins. These are hazardous if ingested. Tampax brand tampons and Playtex brand tampons both list rayon in their ingredients.

The U.S. FDA has also addressed this issue. The following can be found on their Website concerning dioxins in tampons: “The detectable limit of this assay is currently approximately 0.1 to 1 parts per trillion of dioxin.” It goes on to say that this amount is no more than can be introduced into our bodies through other means. They believe the levels to be safe. If this concerns you there are all-cotton brands of tampons you can buy.

Toxic Shock Syndrome

Facts: Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS) is found in 1-17 women per 100,000 women who are menstruating. The risk is higher for teenage girls and women under age 30. The only way to avoid TSS from tampon use is to not use them at all.

TSS is a real concern. Though this is uncommon it can happen if tampons are used incorrectly. Tampons left in the body for too long a period or using a high absorption tampon on light flow days are both culprits. If you use a tampon with high absorption when your flow is light it can cause small lacerations in the vaginal wall. This can lead to the bacteria Staphylococcus aureus to enter the body.

Symptoms of TSS appear rapidly and include high fever, vomiting, a feeling of dizziness, loose stools and head and body aches. You may also develop a red rash on your hands and feet, see redness around your eyes and throat, develop a cough, feel confused and even have a seizure. This condition is very serious and can be deadly. If you suspect you have TSS you should remove your tampon and go to the emergency room immediately. Let them know you think you may have TSS. Lightheadedness and confusion are common with TSS so it is best to have someone else drive or call an ambulance.

To avoid TSS there are things you should remember while using tampons. Always match the absorbency of your tampon with your menstrual flow. If you flow is light it is dangerous to insert a larger tampon just to avoid changing them as often. You should be wary of wearing a tampon overnight. If you choose to do so you may want to set your alarm so that you can get up at least once in the night to change it. Never use any tampon longer than eight hours. Wash your hands thoroughly before and after changing your tampon and keep them in a dry place when they are not in use.


Are tampons dangerous? It seems they can be if used improperly. Each woman should weigh the pros and cons and decide if she wishes to use them or not. As with anything it’s always in your best interest to do some research and decide for yourself.

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