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You’ve been grabbing a foreign object and shoving it inside of you since you were a preteen. I’m talking about tampons, of course. But how much do you really know about the synthetic fabrics that sit in your body, sometimes for hours at a time? Here are 15 facts about tampons that you should know.

The four main ingredients

What are most tampons made of? Polyester cord, rayon/cotton, a cotton string, and polysorbate 20.

 Your tampon is bleached with chlorine

Chlorine, as in the stuff used to keep hot tubs and swimming pools clean? Yes. Cotton and rayon tampons aren’t naturally that white. Chlorine can upset your hormonal balance and cause health problems, which is one of the reasons why you shouldn’t leave tampons in very long.

They can dry you up

The surfactants in tampons used to absorb the blood will also absorb regular, healthy vaginal secretions, which is why your vagina can be very dry after using one. Without those secretions, your vagina can’t fight infection as well.

 Tampons might hurt if you’re on the pill

Some birth control pills also cause vaginal dryness, so if you’re on the pill, removing a tampon might be slightly painful.

 

 

 

 

Toxic Shock Syndrome

Toxic Shock Syndrome doesn’t only happen if you accidentally leave a tampon in for too long. Even if you leave a tampon in the recommended time, the fibers can implant in your vaginal walls and get stuck in there.

 

 

 

 

 

They’re polluting the environment…

The chlorine bleaching process of tampons creates dioxin, a known pollutant in the environment.

 

 

 

 

 

And they’re polluting it more

Tampons take six months to decompose. That being said, pads almost never biodegrade. There are more tampons in landfills than condom wrappers or syringes.

 

 

 

 

 

Dioxin might lower his sperm count

If you’re having sex during your period, the dioxin left behind from your tampons has been linked to lower sperm count for men.

 

 

 

 

 

 

They may have pesticides

There could be some pesticides left over on your tampon from the cotton formed to make it. These can get inside your body.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Your best tampon option

Grab an unbleached, organic cotton tampon to avoid some of the previously mentioned risks.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The lowest absorbency is best

The light, regular and super absorbent tampons exist for a reason. The more absorbent a tampon, the more likely the fibers get stuck in the walls of your vagina. You should only use a super tampon if you have a hefty flow.

 

 

 

 

 

Your tampon cannot enter your body

Contrary to some scary urban legends, your tampon cannot be pushed up into your body. The opening of your cervix is too small.

 

 

 

 

 

Your flow affects how many you use

When your flow is very heavy, you need to change your tampon every two to three to hours because the fibers are essentially all filled up with blood. On lighter days, you can get away with changing your tampon every three to six hours.

 

 

 

 

Your tampon doesn’t go where you pee

In case this hasn’t been cleared up for you yet (and this actually hasn’t been cleared up for a lot of women!) you have three holes down there: the urinary, the vaginal and the anal. Your tampon doesn’t go in your urethra because you would obviously urinate all over it when it’s time to go to the bathroom.

 

 

 

The three most used brands are…

Here are the most used tampon brands: Tampax (approximately 8.5 percent), Kotex (approximately 3.5 percent) and Playtex (approximately 4.5 percent). Store brands come after that (approximately 1.5 percent).

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