Do Tampons Cause Cancer? How to Avoid It?

Products for female hygiene are widely available in the market. Also, the demand for these products is increasing day by day. So tampons are one of these products used for the hygiene of females. 

No doubt, tampons are useful for the personal hygiene of females, but it also has some risk factors related to health. One of the prominent concerns among tampon users is the risk of cervical cancer. 

So, do tampons cause cancer?

Although tampons are made of some synthetic chemicals, it has little risk of cancer. However, if you use it in the incorrect way or for too long, it can cause several vaginal problems, of which cancer is also one!

Let’s find the risk of using vaginal tampons and their better alternatives. 

Do Tampons Cause Cancer?

Tampons are cylindrical shape product that is used to soak all the menstrual blood. Females put tampons directly in their vaginas. 

The use of tampons by females is increasing day by day. Some women use tampons of local brands that are easily available to them. That means they are putting some toxic chemicals in the most absorbent area of their body. This is due to the unawareness about the use and quality of tampons. 

do-tampons-cause-cancer

In the past, a chemical called dioxin was commonly used in tampons that could cause cancer and damage the immune system. But luckily, now, dioxin-producing processes are no longer used. Although changes are made, tampons still contain a small amount of dioxin as the byproduct of the bleaching process. 

Dioxin could cause cancer in animals and humans. It can also affect hormones, which in turn could affect immunity. According to EPA, “there is no safe level of exposure to dioxin.” But fortunately, the exposure to dioxin by tampons is less than in the past. 

Again, non-organic cotton is sprayed with pesticides and herbicides, increasing the risk of its residue inside the vagina. The fragrance is also a harmful chemical substance, as brands do not tell what chemicals they have used! Each woman puts about 10,000-11,000 tampons into her body throughout her life, which means she puts pesticides, chlorine, fragrances, and other harmful chemicals inside her. 

Moreover, BPA disturbs hormones and is also associated with cancer. So we should prefer BPA-free products. So, certainly, manufacturers should use less harmful alternatives rather than using these chemicals. 

However, Dr.Philip Tierno reported that dioxin in tampons is still a cause for concern. Since tampons make direct contact with vaginal tissues, which can lead to reproductive problems, due to the updates in tampons, we can say that tampons do not cause cancer.

Discouraging Facts of Tampons

Tampons are safe or unsafe, have been the topic of debate for years. It all depends on whether they are used correctly or incorrectly. 

  • When tampons are misused, they can cause a deadly disease called Toxic shock syndrome (TSS). 
  • Moreover, if the tampon is left in the vagina for too long, it may increase the risk of bacterial infections. 
  • If highly absorbent tampons are used, bacteria start producing and then enter the bloodstream, which can further cause yeast infections, bacterial vaginosis, TSS, and other viral infections. Researches show that about 60 -70% of women use tampons. All the tampons are non-bio-degradable and are not recyclable. So tampons are one of the reasons for environmental pollution. 
  • As they are expensive, everyone cannot afford them. 
  • As the tampons have been gone through the bleaching process to make them white, it produces harmful products that can lead to cancer problems related to the reproductive system. 
  • About 16-30% of pesticides are used in tampons. Long-term exposure to these chemicals and pesticides can cause toxic diseases. 
  • The vagina contains fluids and many microorganisms that help maintain the vagina’s pH and destroy harmful bacteria. Tampons absorb everything. This causes vaginal dryness and disturbs the maintenance of pH, which can irritate the vagina.  
  • As tampons can be molded into a shape that you can easily insert. That’s why some of its fibers might stay inside that, further becoming the place for bacterial growth. 

Alternatives Better Than Tampons

Due to the innovations in female hygiene products, many alternatives to tampons have been invented. Some of which we will discuss here:

Menstrual Underwear

Many brands start producing underwear that has lining inside. Companies even make yoga pants that you can wear without any pad or underwear. These all products are washable and easy to use. The most significant advantage of menstrual underwear is eco-friendly or pollution-free and reused.

Menstrual Cups

Menstrual cups are also environment friendly, collect menstrual blood, and are dumped out after 10-12 hours. That means you don’t have to go bathroom again and again and can also use it for more than a year.

Reusable Cloth Pads

Disposable pads and tampons cause land pollution at a higher rate. Alternative to these products, the cloth pads are now reusable and environmentally friendly. You can reuse cloth pads after washing. They can be placed in the crotch of the underwear and can be worn for almost 5-6 hours.

Menstrual Disc

Like menstrual cups, menstrual discs are also inserted and collect menstrual blood. Menstrual cups are inserted into the vaginal canal, while menstrual discs sit deep into the vaginal canal at the vaginal fornix. This is the main distinction between these two. Similar to tampons, menstrual discs are disposable and cannot be reused.

menstrual-cups

Sterile Gauze

Sterile gauze is more absorbent than normal tissue. It is specially made to absorb blood. It is the best option when there is nothing else to use. They are easy to use and also less expensive.

Ziggy cup

Ziggy Cup is a reusable, money-saving, and environment-friendly disc. This disc is made of silicon and works the same as disposable discs.

Reusable sea sponges

Sea sponges can also be used as an alternative for tampons that come directly from nature. They are 100% natural and are free from potentially harmful chemicals. Also, you can use each sponge for 3-6 months. They are available in three different sizes.

Which Is Better To Wear A Pad or a Tampon?

Pads are better for heavy bleeding in periods. Changing a pad is easier than a tampon. Pads are also easy to use, while tampons are hard to use. Pads are suitable for overnight use without worrying. On the other hand, tampons may irritate the vagina. There is no risk of developing TSS when using menstrual pads, but tampons can increase their risk. This proves that pads are better to wear than tampons.

FAQs

Question: Do tampons have harmful chemicals?

Answer:  Chemicals like BPA, dyes, fragrances, dioxins, chlorine, and synthetics are used in manufacturing tampons that are harmful to humans. Long-term exposure to these chemicals can cause infections in the vagina. Also, tampons have chemicals that are detrimental to the environment.

Question: Can tampons cause cervical cancer?

Answer: There is a misconception that tampons can cause cervical cancer. But there is no proper evidence that tampons can cause cervical cancer. Instead, the leading cause of cervical cancer is Human papillomavirus (HPV), a sexually transmitted disease. Other causes of cervical cancer are genetics, smoking, immune deficiency, and lifestyle choices.       

Question: Do tampons have chemicals that make you bleed more?

Answer: No, tampons don’t have chemicals that make you bleed more. It might seem like that when you use it for the first time, but they are safe until you use them correctly. There is also a misconception that manufacturers use asbestos intentionally to encourage bleeding, therefore more sales of tampons, but it is not true because FDA ensures the excellent quality of tampons.

Question: Why are tampons bad for you?

Answer: Tampons are hard to use as they are inserted into the vagina. Inserting them is difficult when used for the first time. It may cause irritation and dryness in the vagina. So, you cannot use them overnight. It increases the risk of developing TSS. Also, tampons are bad as they cause land pollution.

Question: Do organic tampons make you bleed less?

Answer: Organic tampons are 100% organic cotton – free of all harmful chemicals. They are bleached with peroxide. Organic tampons can make you bleed less because they cannot absorb nasty chemicals. So if you have heavy bleeding, you can use organic tampons for less bleeding.

Conclusion

Do tampons cause cancer? Indeed, tampons don’t cause cancer, as only some traces of dioxin are found that can be neglected. They are helpful until they are not used for a long time. Otherwise, they can cause many infections, TSS, and cause the vagina to irritate. 

If used correctly, they are great to use. Along with their benefits, tampons also have many disadvantages. Indeed, there are potentially harmful chemicals used in tampons that may affect human health and the environment.

Dr Hafeez Arshad

Dr Hafeez Arshad

This is Dr. Hafeez. I have done my M.Phil in Pharmacology. I am a healthcare professional. My core competencies focus on writing different types of research articles/blogs regarding health sciences.

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