A cylinder of absorbent material inserted in to the vagina to absorb menstrual blood. Most commercially prepared tampons are made of rayon, though some are made of less absorbant but also less synthetic cotton.

The use of tampons is associated with Toxic Shock Syndrome, a rare but deadly condition. The exact causes are uncertain, but it is believed that because rayon is so absorbent, it dries out the vagina and leaves it prone to irritation and infection. The dioxins from the bleach used in most tampons may also be a factor, as the vagina presents a very quick route in to the bloodstream.

Tampons made of rayon are nevertheless popular, because unlike their cotton cousins and their still-more-natural cousins the menstrual sponges, they can be left in for up to 8 hours without leaking, though doctors recommend changing them more often to reduce the risk of TSS. Tampons are popular because they can't be felt once inserted and allow the wearer to go swimming or bathe without leaking blood. Still, they can cause irritation and sometimes discomfort, and are unsuitable for light flow days.

Many tampons come with an applicator, generally a cardboard or plastic tube holding the tampon, so that you needn't get blood on your fingers as you insert it. In practice, you get blood on your hands anyhow and end up with a bloody applicator that you can't flush. Almost all tampons have a string attached which is left hanging out of the entrance to the vagina to make removing the tampon easier.

I've seen bits and pieces of tampon related information on e2, in fact I went searching for as much of it as I could find, just because I think that it's important that people know exactly what they should be worrying about. The title of this node used to be "We'll absorb the worry", which is actually a slogan from a once popular tampon brand, Rely, whose product killed a number of women.

Not all tampons are something to worry about, there are natural all-cotton brands.. but the most popular and widely used products contain many synthetic fibers that are extremely harmful to some people. TSS (Toxic Shock Syndrome) is the biggest problem here, but it's not the only problem, and thus, I've decided to create this little list of sorts in an attempt to dissuade people from buying what is not only harmful to them, but to the environment as well.

1. Tampax, Playtex, two of the most popular tampon brands tend to increase the price of their product regularly while lowering the number of tampons that are actually in the box. This just proves that these companies don't really care about the consumer, a typical large business problem, really. They also know quite well that many of their products present a considerable risk to your health.. they've shifted the responsibility to your shoulders by placing warnings on the boxes.

2. The cotton that is used in the production of tampons made by the major brands could possibly contain, at least to some degree, fertilizer, pesticides, herbicides, and a slew of other chemicals. This is because they don't pay particularly close attention to the source of their cotton, money issues being prevalent here. These companies are not looking out for you, you have to look out for yourself. Even "Tampax Naturals" have been found to contain some synthetic fibers, though they claim that they don't. (I believe a lawsuit is pending, here.) It should also be noted that most tampon products contain chlorine/bleach, which isn't particularly healthy, either.

3. Toxic Shock Syndrome is of course the best reason to avoid these products. People still die from this, though not as frequently. The number of people who get incredibly sick from it hasn't dropped greatly by any stretch of the imagination. You just don't hear about it all that often.. a nice example of concealment in the industry.

4. Plastic tampon applicators are a terrible environmental problem. It seems foolish to contribute unnecessarily to our pollution problems, considering that it is true that they really aren't necessary. No one likes to see applicators washed up on beaches, etc., but it seems to happen an awful lot.

If you find that you simply must use a tampon, at least take the time to learn exactly what you're purchasing. Organically made products are available now, though they weren't at one time. I only know of one brand, personally, but I don't even use tampons.. "Natracare" is supposed to be good. Any ways, just please look into these things, it really is quite important.

The site I obtained some of this information, though I already knew much of it, is quite helpful. There are many others out there, so you've no excuse to not know these things!

I've noticed a lot of the girl noders worried about the safety of those bleached, unnatural sticks of cotton we ladies are forced to use.

Apart from the Toxic Shock Syndrome scares, and the uncomfort some of us feel at having a "so there", as someone called it, stuffed against our uterus (which is a clenching, painful fist at the best of times), there are also other factors to consider. The feminists for example, are all about ceasing to pay for something we can't control. The feminists are angry that the men who own the feminine hygiene companies are charging us pretty steep prices for products we literally can't live without. Frankly, they feel that it is the men who are afraid of blood, of the menses (choosing to avoid the subject at all costs) and that it is quite rude of them to be making the big bucks off of us. It is pretty irritating that a woman must pay a huge corporation because her uterus biologically sheds every month.

But then, we biologically need food, and that isn't free.

Anyway, I recently read about an alternative, which seems quite strange but might just be an answer for those who are worried.


They are very, very inexpensive, and obviously, ecologically sound. They're convenient because you don't need to carry a supply of tampons with you everywhere; you just take it out and wash it extremely well with mild soap and water.

Apparently they are also fun to play with in the bath. (I shrug at this).

Also, you can squeeze the blood in a jar and fill it with water and feed it to your houseplants. Apparently the plants love it. Bloodsuckers..

Since the sea sponges used to actually be alive, women claim to feel "closer" to them, than impersonal bleach-white tampons. And a note about TSS, it is very important to keep them ultra clean. Boil a new sponge before using it for the first time. Store them in a litte cotton bag. Only use a sponge for two or three months because after awhile the natural fibres tend to wear down.

One thing to keep in mind is that when the sponge is very full, it is very liable to just slip right out if you laugh too hard or if you yell. You can wear two at a time if you have heavy periods though.

Sea sponges used to live in the ocean, which as we know is ruled by the moon. And women's menstrual patterns are nothing if not lunar. So perhaps a lady might have some sort of "deeper" connection, instincively, with sea sponges than with tampons. I'm all for women getting in touch with their bodies, as we have been taught throughout the ages that bleeding is a horrid thing and that we should ignore our vaginas. (See: menstrual hut)

It seems quite disgusting, a bit like the idea that drinking your own urine is good for you really (egad!) but as with the most taboo things, it generally becomes more accepted over time. Although they may have to start putting basins inside the women's toilet cubicles, as I very much doubt many girls could handle reapplying their mascara while someone else comes out to rinse their bloody sponge right next to them.

Information obtained from http://www.f-word.org/essays/?x=muscio.html

Well, first I had this write-up in the nodeshell: An alternative to using tampons.
Then QXZ pointed out I should remove the period from the nodeshell, "so to speak".
So, LOL, I agreed. But then anthropod suggested I move it to this node which I originally thought of doing, only that I thought, but it's not a tampon. But then anthropod said: "Well, what is a tampon if not something you put in your vagina to stop blood flow?"

And I do believe she is right.

call says: I'm not sure about the ecological soundness of sea sponge... I'm sure I recall something about their harvesting doing pretty severe damage...
Admittedly the reusability element probably means it's still a hell of a lot better than tampons.

(Just so you don't believe in the au naturel goodness of it without doing your research, folks.)

Some commercially produced tampons have also been found to carry dioxins, a carcinogen that is toxic to the immune system and linked to birth defects and lowered sperm counts (the last occuring mainly in men, of course). While "women who wear nylon stockings, rayon dresses, drive around in cars which are 85% plastic and drink Slim-Fast and diet drinks" may only be hypocritically interested in such risks, the rest of us have a right to be careful about what we put in our bodies.

Personally, I find it slightly creepy that large American coporations are trying to convince me to stop up my menstual flow with a chemical-laden phallic object. I much prefer the uses my fellow campus feminists came up with for our Tampon-a-thon, an event we organize to spread information about the risks of tampon use. We spent an evening making tampon crafts, from googly-eyed tampon cows and cheerleaders to tampon necklaces and tampon mini-pontoon boats.

Tam"pon (?), n. [F. See Tampion.] Surg.

A plug introduced into a natural or artificial cavity of the body in order to arrest hemorrhage, or for the application of medicine.


© Webster 1913.

Tam"pon, v. t. Surg.

To plug with a tampon.


© Webster 1913.

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