Most Tampons Are Toxic. Here’s What to Look Out For.

The average woman uses 9,000 to 11,000 tampons in her lifetime–that’s a lot of tampons! And if you’re not careful, it’s also a lot of chemicals.

Why should we be so concerned about chemicals in our tampons? Because chemicals absorbed through the vagina do not undergo the same elimination and detoxification pathways as the things we eat. Instead, they go directly into your bloodstream, unimpeded.

While one box of tampons may not be toxic on its own, using chemically-laden tampons month after month, thousands of times over could be putting your reproductive health at real risk. Here are a few chemicals in tampons to be on the lookout for.

Using toxic tampons month after month could be putting your reproductive health at risk. Here are chemicals in tampons to look out for.

Toxic Chemicals in Tampons


Dioxin is a byproduct of converting wood pulp into synthetic rayon (a material which is used in many tampons). The World Health Organization classifies dioxin as a probable carcinogen. Some research has also linked dioxin exposure to endometriosis.

While tampon manufacturers have practically eliminated this chemical byproduct from their processes, there are still very trace amounts of dioxin in tampons. And while the FDA requires tampon companies to monitor dioxin levels, this information is not public.

To be fair, there are dioxins all around us, thanks to years of industrial pollution of our air, water, and earth.

Studies have shown that we probably consume more dioxins in the foods we eat than in our tampons, but that still doesn’t mean that having any amount of dioxins down there is a good thing.

Dioxins are very dangerous chemicals and they accumulate in the body over time. While the amount of dioxin in one tampon may be negligible, can we say the same for 10,000?

Conventional Cotton

The lining of the vagina is actually highly permeable, meaning things you put in there can easily leach into your system. And while cotton may seem fairly innocuous, don’t be fooled.

Over 90 percent of US cotton has been genetically modified to be more Roundup resistant. This means that most cotton is sprayed with a lot more pesticides, like Monsanto’s Roundup.

Roundup, for those of you who don’t know, is another name for glyphosate, a known carcinogen. Conventional cotton contains traces of these dangerous chemical herbicides and is a GMO product, which is probably something you’d like to avoid in your tampons if you already try to avoid GMOs in your food.

If your cotton tampon is not organic, you are putting yourself at real risk for absorbing nasty pesticide and chemical residue through the highly permeable membrane of your vaginal canal.

Added Fragrance

Most mainstream tampons contain chemical odor neutralizers, dyes, and synthetic fragrances. But since tampons are regarded as a “medical device” companies are not required to disclose these ingredients to the consumer.

These chemicals may be harmful. In fact, recent research has shown that scented female product may increase a woman’s exposure to dangerous phthalates, known endocrine disruptors. These chemical scents also cause an imbalance in your vagina’s delicate pH, which can lead to infections. Flowery scented tampons simply aren’t worth the risk.

Finding Safer Tampons & Other Menstrual Products

If you use tampons, it is best to use unscented tampons made of 100 percent organic cotton to decrease your chemical load. There are plenty of subscription services out there (like my personal favorite, Lola) if you are unable to find clean tampon options near you.

Or, even more sustainable, try a reusable menstrual cup. However, women with an IUD should be cautious about the cup, as in rare cases the suction can dislodge the device.

Of course, period underwear or a pad may be the safest options when it comes to potential toxicity, so only use tampons/cups when it’s necessary.

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Images via Thinkstock.


Melisa B
Mia Babout a month ago

Thanks for sharing

hELEN h3 months ago


Marie W
Marie W7 months ago

thanks for sharing.

Lesa D
Past Member 8 months ago

thank you Jordyn...

natasha p
Past Member 11 months ago

I use pads

Maud M
Maud Mabout a year ago


Barbara I
Barbara Idsoabout a year ago

I don't understand why toxins are allowed in our products! A corrupted FDA has to stop.

Elizabeth O
Elizabeth Oabout a year ago

Thanks for the article.

Marge F
Marge Fabout a year ago

Thank you for posting this interesting article.

Julia S
Julia Sabout a year ago

Thank you!