Think of all the beach or lake or pool trips we might have missed if tampons weren’t around! Many tampons users would probably agree that tampons have definitely done a lot to make our lives easier, which leaves many people scratching their heads over recent claims that tampon usage contributes to infertility.
The connection between using tampons and fertility
Is it really possible that your tampons can cause fertility problems later on in life? We explore three major health claims that people make about tampons as they relate to fertility.
Claim #1: Tampons and endometriosis
Some people believe that during menstruation, tampons in the vagina can block and cause a buildup of tissue, which allows tissue that would normally be expelled to stay and grow in a females’s body, which could lead to endometriosis.
The truth of the matter: A 2002 Yale study found that women with endometriosis actually tend to use tampons less than women who do not have endometriosis. Researchers guessed that tampons may help prevent endometriosis by collecting tissue that would otherwise be left behind in the woman’s body. However, endometriosis causes pelvic pain, so women who physically cannot use tampons because of the pain weren’t considered, which could have skewed the results of the study. The bottom line for this claim is that tampon usage may actually lower the risk of endometriosis, but there is no definite proof yet.
Claim #2: Tampons and asbestos
The second major claim is that tampon manufacturers mix asbestos – a dangerous mineral – into the tampon material, to intentionally cause more bleeding in the vagina and thus sell more tampons.
The truth of the matter: There is absolutely no truth to this. It’s just a run-of-the-mill conspiracy theory. An official statement from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) states that regulatory check-ups ensure that tampons contain no asbestos or similar minerals.
Claim #3: Tampons and dioxin exposure
Finally, there is a claim that the fibers of tampons contain dioxin, a toxic chemical and pollutant.
The truth of the matter: The FDA has officially stated that steps have been taken to remove as much dioxin as possible from tampons. According to the statement, decades of pollution have made it impossible to completely remove dioxins from the material that goes into tampons, but the amount of dioxins in them is tiny. A 2002 assessment by the Environmental Protection Agency found that exposure to dioxins through diet is tens of thousands of times stronger than the exposure of dioxins through tampon usage.
So what’s the final word?
The final word is that no major studies have found any harm in long-term tampon use. There is no data to suggest that tampons cause endometriosis or that they contain harmful chemicals that could affect fertility.
- “Tampons and Asbestos, Dioxin, & Toxic Shock Syndrome.” FDA. U.S. Food and Drug Administration, May 13 2015. Web.
- “Scientist sees a connection between endometriosis and tampon use, orgasm.” YaleMedicine. Yale School of Medicine, 2002. Web.
- Susan Dudley, PhD, Salwa Nassar, Emily Hartman, and Sandy Wang. “Tampon Safety.” NCHR. National Center for Health Research, 2016. Web.
- Michael J DeVito, Arnold Schecter. “Exposure assessment to dioxins from the use of tampons and diapers.” National Center for Biotechnology Information: Environmental Health Perspectives. 110(1): 23–28. Web. Jan 2002.