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Sunday, September 03, 2017


Tampons - Do You Know the Dangers?

Guest Post By Alicia P Smith

We all know tampons can lead to toxic shock syndrome (TSS) but who knew they may lead to infertility? I said, "may," because there have not been any independent studies done. I have always wondered how safe tampons really are and curious if tampons can effect a woman's fertility. For five years I suffered through infertility and I have since been looking for all possible reasons on why I suffered so long and why I developed endometriosis.
To help answer some of my specific questions regarding the dangers of tampons, I spoke with Dr. Philip M. Tierno, Jr.: Director of Clinical Microbiologyand 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 destroyed by the antibodies in our bloodstream then TSS can occur. Some symptoms are: Sudden fever (102 F or more) and vomiting, diarrhea, fainting or near fainting when standing up, dizziness, and a rash that looks like a sunburn.
2. Alicia: "Is it true there is a rise in TSS?"
Dr. Tierno: "True. But it never went away. Tampon manufacturers have taken out 3 of the 4 dangerous synthetic components. The 3 components taken out were polyester, carboxymethylcellulose and polyacrylate rayon. The highly absorbent viscose rayon is still used. The viscose rayon is the lesser of the 4 evils but it still produces toxins.
A part of the problem is that women are opting to use overnight tampons. They do not set their alarm clocks to wake up and change their tampons so they are left in much longer then they should be. They should stay in no longer then 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]."
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3. Alicia: "Does anyone know what tampons are made of besides the manufacturer?"
Dr. Teirno: "No."
Note: The FDA says it is proprietary information and therefore cannot be released. Interesting, isn't it? You know what is in your hand lotion but no clue what you put inside your body.
4. Alicia: "Have any independent tests been done on the overall safety of tampons?"
Dr. Teirno: "No. No one has given the money to a scientist to do the research."
5. Alicia: "Has there been any movement on the "Tampon Safety & Research Act of 1999?"
Dr. Teirno: "That is a good question [he is laughing]."
Alicia: "Is it because the companies you are going up against are billion dollar companies?"
Dr. Teirno: He laughs and says, "Try trillion dollar companies. You should call Carolyn Maloney. She would answer that question for you."
Note: Ms. Maloney has been trying to push this bill and it keeps getting brushed aside. She is asking for INDEPENDENT studies on the safety of tampons. All of the research done so far is from the manufacturers themselves. In the 76+ years of tampons being on the market not ONE independent test has been done!


So let me make sure you caught that: Tampons have been on the market since 1933 and NOT ONE independent study has been done on their safety. All of the studies done are by the tampon manufacturers themselves. I have since learned that the FDA does not do the testing themselves. They simply go by what the manufacturer reports to them.Do you think they would ever report they were bad for you?
6. Alicia: "I know dioxin was a major concern before the manufacturers said they have changed the bleaching process. However, I would like to know for the millions of women who used tampons years before the change; how do dioxins leave the body?"
Dr. Teirno: "They get absorb into the vagina and some [not all] of it will detox through the liver. Even trace amounts of dioxin are cause for concern because tampons come in contact with some of the most absorbent tissue in the body. In addition, the effects of dioxin are cumulative and can be measured 20 to 30 years after exposure."
Note: While the bleaching process has changed in recent years, dioxin is still found in tampons (even those made of 100% cotton). The EPA states that due to decades of pollution, dioxin can be found in the air, water and ground. This means trace levels can be found in the cotton or wood pulp raw materials used to make tampons. The FDA currently requires that tampon manufacturers monitor dioxin levels, but as I already mentioned the results are not made available to the public.
7. Alicia: "Do you believe tampons can cause endometriosis?"
Dr. Teirno: "Dioxin is a known cause for endometriosis. Disrupted hormones can be a cause too. Another theory is that menstrual tissue pushes itself up the fallopian tubes [and exits into the body and starts to grow outside of the uterus]."
Alicia: "Can tampons cause the tissue to be pushed up?"
Dr. Teirno: "A tampon can back up the fluid once the tampon is full and the fluid can then accumulate. The fluid can be pushed up naturally [but a tampon can also be a factor]."
Note: Dr. Teirno said the most popular theory is that women have a genetic disposition for the decease.
8. Alicia: "Can Dioxin grow cysts inside of a woman's body?"
Dr. Teirno: "Dioxin can give rise to tumorous growth"
9. Alicia: "What is dangerous about the fibers that get left behind once you remove the tampon? Do they contain Silicone?"
Dr. Teirno: "We do not know. However, these fibers can cause odor and inflammation. If a woman has a chronic inflammation it can lead to infertility."
It was a very eye opening interview for me. Dr. Tierno said dioxin is a known cause for endometriosis. However, just the presence of a tampon may be a cause too. This goes back to my gut instinct of the normality 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 there may be a few links between tampons and infertility, whether the links are direct or indirect. However, we will never know for sure until 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 pollutants. You should use low absorbent tampons and switch between pads and tampons often. This might be more than you wanted to know about tampons but you should know it.Pass this information on to any girlfriends, sisters, and daughters.
Alicia Smith
Infertility Hurts

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