Healthy or Hype? Should I Be Using Organic Tampons

Should I use organic tampons instead of normal, non-organic tampons?” The blog post discussed the recent introduction of organic tampons to the feminine hygiene market and the ensuing debate that followed concerning whether organic tampons are better for you than normal, non-organic tampons and if normal, non-organic tampons are harmful.

Here at Women’s Pelvic Surgery, we are always tuned in to timely, trending issues and topics in gynecology and general women’s health and wellbeing. We’ve seen that as more and more types and brands of organic feminine hygiene products are showing up on drugstore shelves and ecommerce websites, they’ve gained increasing attention and chatter in the news and on social media feeds and online discussion forums. Additionally, we’ve had many of our patients ask us about whether they should be using organic tampons. We hope that the two blogs we have written on this topic help clear up any concerns and misconceptions.

Here are some key things to keep in mind when deciding what type of tampon you want to use:

The tampon industry is regulated by the FDA.

To ease your worries about using normal, non-organic tampons, keep in mind that the tampon industry is not an unregulated industry. Rather, the FDA oversees tampons and considers them a Class II medical device (other things that the FDA considers Class II medical devices are some pregnancy test kits, contact lenses, and condoms). The FDA deems Class II devices as higher-risk than Class I items (i.e., dental floss). Accordingly, with Class II medical devices such as tampons, the FDA “requires greater regulatory controls to provide reasonable assurance of the device’s safety and effectiveness.”[1]

Organic tampons aren’t any safer when it comes to Toxic Shock Syndrome risk.

Organic tampons aren’t any safer than normal tampons when it comes to your risk for contracting Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS). See our previously published blog on TSS to learn more about this potentially fatal medical condition. Your TSS risk hinges on using tampons as properly instructed per the FDA: you should use the lowest absorbency tampon that meets your needs and change your tampon frequently. There is no evidence to support that TSS is more likely with regular tampons than with organic tampons. The risk is considered equivalent.

Medical experts stress that there are no toxins that can cause diseases or illnesses at low amounts, in regular tampons or their applicators.

Some consumer groups have raised concern about the presence of dioxin in regular tampons. Tampons are made from rayon, cotton, or a combination of the two materials. Rayon is made from a process where cellulose fibers are derived from wood pulp. As part pf the process, the wood pulp is bleached. In the past, this bleaching process caused trace amounts of dioxins. However, the FDA says that bleaching process is no longer used. The FDA also noted that at present day, tampon manufacturers use purification methods that drastically reduce the formation of dioxins to trace or undetectable levels. “Rayon raw material used in U.S. tampons is now produced using elemental chlorine-free or totally chlorine free bleaching processes.”[2] Additionally, dioxins are found throughout our environment, and humans get 90 percent of their exposure from diet, according to the World Health Organization.[3] Switching to organic tampons won’t change that.

Regular tampons do not contain asbestos.

A couple years ago, rumors started that tampon manufacturers were adding asbestos to tampons in order to cause additional menstrual bleeding (which means women would need to purchase more tampons for each menstrual cycle). The FDA released a patient alert memo dispelling this rumor.

Tampons with added fragrances may cause irritation.

One thing you should be aware of when picking out a tampon is whether or not the tampon has added fragrances. Some women are sensitive to the chemicals in the fragrance, which can cause vulvitis—an itchy, burning irritation of the vulva. If you are using tampons with fragrance and are having these symptoms, switch to a fragrance-free tampon of either the organic or normal variety.

Organic tampons are more expensive.

If you like the idea of using organic tampons—then use them. But keep in mind that there’s no data to show that organic tampons are safer than normal ones. Also, organic tampons currently cost significantly more money than non-organic, regular tampons. As such, purchasing organic tampons every month will be cost-prohibitive for many users. For example, 36 Cora organic cotton tampons with applicator, regular absorbency, costs $16.99 on Amazon.com ($0.47 per tampon). A 40-pack of “non-organic” Tampax cardboard tampons, regular absorbency, costs $5.49 on Amazon.com ($0.14 per tampon).

At Women’s Pelvic Surgery, board certified uro/gyn Dr. Khashayar Shakiba and his staff are commited to helping you stay safe and healthy. To learn more about Women’s Pelvic Surgery, check out our website. 

If you have any questions or want to schedule an appointment, call us at (201) 301-2772 or click here to contact us online.

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Womens Pelvic Surgery

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