Tampon Risks, What To Consider – Alternatives

Unsure about using tampons or what is the best decision for your personal health? Let’s unwrap these cotton plugs and look at some alternative methods.

What are Tampons? 

Designed by Dr. Earle C. Haas (a man curiously enough), tampons have been around since the early 1930s. The concept has changed very little in the past century, with design improvements to the shape and efficiency of application.

As a cotton cylinder, tampons are designed to be inserted into the vaginal cavity as a way of absorbing menstrual waste. Several forms of tampons exist in regards to application. Plastic, cardboard, or applicator free stand as the three varieties available to the public today. (1)

Generally speaking, plastic applicators tend to provide the most comfortable sliding insert experience, followed by cardboard. Cardboard. although more environmentally friendly is less popular due to the increase of friction when inserted as the nature of cardboard is rougher than that of a smooth plastic. The applicator free tampon, more compact in style, demands a more intimate approach, however is found more popularly in some countries than others, most likely due to its simplicity.

Material Hazards

Let’s step back for a moment and take a look at what a tampon is comprised of, keeping in mind where these materials sit on a monthly basis.

The vagina is a cavity highly sensitive to absorption, as the permeable membrane cells that make up the walls, vary from dermal cells found on our limbs for instance. Vaginal walls are far more susceptible to toxins and materials introduced than that of our outer skin layers that face the sun or whatever insect spray/lotion we have put on for the day. Being aware of what material is being put inside your body, as well as the length of time it remains there.

Absorbant Material: Rayon-Diaxon-Cotton

Generally, tampons are made of cotton and a material called rayon. Rayon is a synthetic fiber that produces diaxon as a byproduct. Rayon is processed and bleached to bring it to the synthetic consistency it appears as in a tampon. When this process occurs, diaxon emerges; a toxin associated with cancer and immunity issues. Even organic brands, comprised of mostly cotton, have still been found to have traces of diaxon, as producers and consumers are becoming more aware of the health concerns associated with the presence of the toxin.

Applicator Material: Plastic-Cardboard 

Neither of these materials have held much popularity in concerns to health or environmental factors. Plastic, although convenient, has long been associated with BPA’s, a chemical runoff of plastic, with a grocery list of health hazards, and not to mention the ever accumulating material filling our landfills and oceans. Cardboard a slightly more progressive option in regards to environmental concerns, however does not eliminate the fact it is still a processed material similar to paper requiring a chemical process to bring it to form. (2)  (3)

Environmental Footprint

In the U.S. alone, $3 BILLION is spent per year on women’s sanitary products. Consider this; one woman on average will have her period 12 times a year, each time lasting anywhere from a day to a week. Each cycle requires a purchase of a box of tampons OR MORE depending on the individual’s flow demand. On the LOW end of things, that’s the disposal of 200+ tampons for ONE female in a year. (2)

Suggested Alternatives

Fortunately, women are becoming the wiser, seeking organic options, or different alternatives altogether.

Take a look at these suggestions on period cups and undies as alternatives to cotton pads and tampons, and perhaps a friendlier footprint on the environment.

Your Health Your Choice

While popular use has been the convenience of the tampon for nearly a century, there’s always room for improvement or a revolution of progression.

It’s your body, it’s your choice in regards to health. Being a woman is a beautiful gift. We bring life into the world. Take the time to consider what is best for you, and what may promote, improve, or extend health throughout your menstrual years.


  1. http://www.soc.ucsb.edu/sexinfo/article/history-tampons
  2. http://www.center4research.org/tampon-safety/
  3. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/expert-answers/bpa/faq-20058331
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