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What’s Going On With o.b. Tampons?

Hopefully you have already swapped out your old tampons for fragrance-, bleach-, pesticide and dye-free organic ones. But if you haven’t, you should do so now. Yes, they are more expensive, and if you’re a Keeper or Diva Cup girl, awesome.

But there’s no sense in being equivocal about this one: Tampons are things you put inside your body every single month, several times a day for several days in a row, for decades on end. Pesticides, dyes, fragrance—fragrance!—and bleach have no business in there.

And if that’s not enough to convince you, you can revisit this post, and this one.

Now for the news. We all think—and for good reason—that when we remove a tampon, that it is no longer in our body. Intuitively, this is what makes sense. But guess what?

Read this chilling (and very carefully worded, we noticed) article in the New York Times about how o.b. tampons—my former tampon of choice—have been mysteriously disappearing off shelves.

Is there a quiet recall going on? The meat of it here:

A search of the FDA’s adverse event database for medical devices [note: tampons are considered medical devices by FDA] turned up a handful of consumer reports of problems with o.b. tampons over the last five years. Such health complaints are not necessarily caused by the products cited in the reports.

The reports in the FDA database about o.b. tampons included complaints of headache, fever, nausea and abdominal pain as well as infections caused by tampon remnants remaining in the body. One complaint from last year concerned a consumer who said she had been using o.b. tampons for two years.

“Consumer saw her physician and was prescribed medication for a vaginal infection. After one day of treatment, a ‘ball of tampon threads was released from the uterus,’ ” the report said. “The consumer reported that the physician suspected that the ball consisted of ‘little pieces of tampon from over a period of time.’ ”

A spokeswoman for the FDA said the agency was “not aware of any quality control or manufacturing issues with o.b. tampons.”

We’re about to get a little activisty here. No, we don’t know for sure what’s going on with o.b. or any other tampon out there. And no, we can’t prove that the o.b.s caused fever. And no, we have no way of knowing whether or not organic bleach-free-yadda-yadda tampons are also leaving bits of cotton behind after we remove them. But if they are breaking off in small amounts inside of us, we’d still feel bad, but we’d feel a whole lot better about it knowing we weren’t also leaving behind a bunch of chemicals with it. It’s back to the why-bother principle—except it’s not wrinkles we’re talking about here.

Please, please, please, please, please change your tampons or get a reusable, nontoxic thingy like the Diva Cup (which one of our writers wrote to us about ages ago—thanks Claudia!), and please send this article to every woman you know.

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Tampon Advice from Healthy Bitch Daily

We didn’t have to google too far to find some answers to our burning tampon questions: Our friends at Healthy Bitch Daily were already on it. Some scary highlights from their post:

To our utter dismay, there are no federal regulations concerning listing ingredients in tampons. So, for those approximately 11,000 tampons you’ll use in your lifetime, you are actually slipping chlorine-bleached rayon or rayon-cotton blends into your body.

In fact, the USDA reports that U.S. cotton farmers dump approximately 55 million pounds of pesticides into the cotton fields.

Yikes. But if you’re not ready to make the jump to the keeper—um, we don’t blame you—HBD recommends some good alternatives, including the Seventh Generation tampons we posted about a few days ago.

Image via

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What’s In Your Tampons?

Ugh. File under things I totally don’t want to think about. Seventh Generation has this new video promoting their fragrance- and dye-free tampons, which naturally begs the question: Why the hell would my tampons contain synthetic dyes and perfume? Not to mention bleach, rayon, absorbent chemicals, and more.

Seventh Generation, a company we really admire and whose products we make a point of stocking our houses with, has this new video up, which is a good start but sadly doesn’t answer the question of what is in good old fashioned pharmacy tampons.

Anybody know? We’re going to look into this and follow up with another post soon.