Tampons still reign supreme for how to deal with your period. They’re light, affordable, easy to use and discreet and you can do virtually any activity in them from swimming to gymnastics, as well as wear any type of out fit and no one will know it’s that time. Aside from that the options are limited pretty much limited to period cups and pads. But is there really a difference between organic tampons vs. conventional ones? And if so why?
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Tampons as we mentioned are great and have given women tons of freedom from the days of the dreaded ‘belt and pad’ – could you imagine how cumbersome that was? However ladies still have to be careful when it comes to tampons and be sure to change them regularly due to the warnings that are still associated with tampons and Toxic Shock Syndrome back in the late 1970s and early 80s.
Nowadays you never see much about it, aside from the little leaflets you may find inside of a tampon box. Toxic Shock Syndrome, or TSS, is most commonly associated with tampon use, specifically the use of super-absorbent tampons, and it remains a fact that about half of all TSS cases are tampon related.
What you may not know is that Toxic Shock Syndrome can affect anyone – men, women and children. Aside from tampon use, Toxic Shock Syndrome has also been associated with the contraceptive sponge and diaphragm, cuts, scrapes, a blood infection called septicemia, surgical wounds, and even chickenpox blisters.
Toxic Shock Syndrome is classified as a systemic illness, meaning it affects the entire body. It can be caused by Staphylococcus aureus bacteria (commonly referred to as Staph), which produce toxins. Another bacteria, Streptococcus pyogenes, which is even more rare, is another cause of TSS. People who cannot fight these toxins become sick. Although this condition is rare, it can be a dangerous and potentially fatal condition.
Signs and Symptoms of TSS
Signs and symptoms of TSS develop very suddenly. Symptoms can include: Sudden high fever of at least 102 degrees Fahrenheit, a drop in blood pressure which may be associated with fainting or feeling faint, sunburn like rash, vomiting, diarrhea, headache, muscle aches, fatigue, weakness, dizziness, confusion, and pale, cool, clammy skin.
You should call your doctor if you experience any of the symptoms of Toxic Shock Syndrome, especially if you are having your period or if it has just ended and you have been using tampons. Doctors typically diagnose TSS by doing a physical exam and conducting blood tests that assess liver and kidney function, in order to rule out any other possible conditions. If they determine that it is TSS, treatment could involve hospitalization and antibiotics.
The best way to prevent tampon associated TSS is by using the lowest absorbency tampon possible and by alternating tampon use with the use of sanitary pads. Change tampons frequently, at least every four to eight hours. If you use tampons when sleeping, try to remember to change to a fresh one just before bed and change it as soon as you wake. It is also a good idea to store your supply of tampons in a cool, dry area, since the heat and moisture of a bathroom are breeding grounds for bacteria. If you have had TSS before, you should not use tampons.
Hand washing is very important in preventing the spread of bacteria that causes TSS and other infections, so try to remember to take extra care when washing your hands, especially during your period, and always wash before changing your tampon. Wash your hands thoroughly with warm water and antibacterial soap, scrubbing for a full 15 seconds before rinsing and drying. Taking just a few precautions can help to prevent your chances of getting TSS.
So do organic tampons cut your risk of getting TSS over regular conventional tampons?
Organic tampons are made from 100% organic cotton unlike regular ones which are made of rayon or non-organic cotton. Organic tampons are bleached with peroxide, while conventional tampons are bleached to be bright-white with chlorine.
According to Alyssa Dweck, MD an ob-gyn in New York, when tampons are bleached with chlorine, it creates dioxin as a byproduct. Dioxin is a known carcinogen (which is a substance capable of causing cancer) and a possible hormone disruptor, but, according to the FDA, they require all tampon manufacturers to monitor dioxin levels. Hmm…
On the flip side, organic tampon manufacturers, claim that their tampons are free of dioxin as well as other synthetic materials used for absorbency, pesticides, and GMOs used in cotton production, but those ‘differences’ haven’t been scientifically studied, so they have to be taken with a grain of salt.
So what are the real benefits of using organic tampons instead of conventional ones?
Well, one plus of organic tampons is that they are unscented which is beneficial for women with sensitive skin.
Other than that, it’s simply a matter of personal preference. According to Dweck, conventional tampons are monitored by the FDA and are by and large, safe for most most women.
Getting back to the original question though, will organic tampons reduce your risk of getting TSS? The answer unfortunately is no. The risk associated with TSS is due to absorbency and how long the tampon is left in the vagina.
Using a tampon that has the least amount of absorbency is the safest. So be sure not to leave yours in there longer than six to eight hours at a time.
If you’re curious about trying organic tampons there are numerous options to try out that can either minimize your sensitivity or possibly reduce chemical exposure.
Here are some organic tampon brands:
100% organic GOTS certified cotton and free of any dyes or fragrances.
7th generation organic cotton tampons
Available in drugstores or supermarkets. BPA free applicators
Applicator free insertion
100% organic/fragrance free.
Hypoallergenic tampons with a plant based applicator option.
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