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8 tampon myths you shouldn’t believe anymore

Illustration by TwylaMae

Home truths.

For many, the tampon is a necessity, offering the freedom to do everything we normally would when we’re not menstruating. But for a product so tiny (and so common) there are still a lot of big question marks around its use.

Inspired by TOM Organic’s recent campaign about knowing what our tampons are really made of, we decided to look into some of the biggest myths surrounding our little sanitary friends.

Myth #1: You don’t need to worry about what’s in your tampons, because they’re all basically made of the same thing

Many tampons are made with synthetic materials, often not containing any cotton at all. Surprisingly, they’re also not subject to the same labelling laws as products like food because they’re considered a ‘medical device’. Unfortunately, this means brands aren’t legally required to print the ingredients on the packaging of tampons. What most people mightn’t realise, is that your vagina is extremely absorbent, so there is a possibility for chemicals in your tampon to seep into your body. That’s why it’s pretty important to know about the products you’re putting in.

Myth #2: As long as my tampons are made of cotton, it doesn’t matter whether they’re organic

Cotton tampons without the organic certification have often been produced with the use of chemicals, such as pesticides and bleaches. This means there’s the possibility that a multitude of potentially harmful chemicals may still be in the final product. Opting for organic tampons, like the TOM Organic range, means that not a single chemical is involved in the manufacturing process at all.

Myth #3: You need to change your tampon every time you go to the toilet

There seems to be a huge debate over whether you should change your tampon each time you go to the toilet. But the short answer is no. As long as you keep the string clean when you’re doing your biz, most medical professionals agree that your risk of vaginal infection isn’t any higher than if you change your tampon each time.

Myth #4: You can’t wear tampons overnight

Contrary to what your mum used to tell you, you can in fact wear a tampon overnight. It’s just important to ensure you stick to the guidelines on the packet, and change it at around the eight-hour mark. Pop it in right before you jump into bed, and change it as soon as you wake up.

Myth #5: All tampons are biodegradable

If your tampons contain any synthetic ingredients at all, they won’t actually break down. Opting for a brand like TOM Organic means your tampons will be made from 100 per cent organic cotton and nothing else, and are completely biodegradable. That said, they should still be disposed of in a sanitary bin for health and safety reasons.

Myth #6: If my tampons are biodegradable, I can flush them, yeah?

While biodegradable tampons can break down in landfill, it’s still best to avoid flushing them (unless you have a septic tank or compostable toilet). Not only are you massively increasing the risk of clogging your plumbing when putting them in the toilet, our water treatment plants don’t actually filter out tampons. The risk to our waterways is a big one. In fact, back in 2013, Tasmania’s Tamar River was found to have masses of tampon strings in its bed.

Myth #7: Leaving a tampon in for more than eight hours will cause toxic shock syndrome (TSS)

While TSS can be related to tampon use, it’s not actually caused by them. The illness stems from the Staphylococcus aureus bacteria, which can be found on your skin (and occasionally in your vagina). Most people produce antibodies to the toxin but, in very rare cases, some don’t. This is when the risk of TSS increases. Even though there’s only been 25 reported cases of TSS in Australia since 1981, it’s still recommended you switch out your tampon three to six times per day to be safe.

Myth #8: Tampons have an expiry date

Always check the box, but tampons like TOM Organic’s do not have an expiry date. You’ll just need to ensure you store them correctly in a cool, dry place to maintain their integrity. That means the emergency one that’s been rolling around in your bag for the last year might not be the best way to go.

To make the switch to 100 per cent organic tampons, visit thetomco.com

This feature was originally published in Fashion Journal 186.

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