The truth about tampons

Jennifer Ritter, a 20-year-old from New Hampshire, was rushed to the ER after days of excruciating pain. During her week’s stay, she went into septic shock, received more than 18 bags of saline, gained 20 pounds in fluid weight and experienced multiple organ failures.

Her pain was diagnosed as Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS) caused by leaving her tampon in for four hours. Though rare, TSS is not the only danger associated with tampons.

The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, a coalition advocating for safe products, explained the dangers of dioxins, chemicals present in tampons from cotton and wood pulp bleaching. With the estimated 17 thousand tampons women use in their lifetime, that is exposure to these toxic chemicals thousands upon thousands of times.

New York Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney has been working diligently for 13 years to pass the Robin Danielson Act. This bill would fund research on TSS, tampon use and chemical exposure through these products.

The bill has been shut down nine times so far, proving Congress’ lack of concern for this issue.

Even the Food and Drug Administration is turning a blind eye.

According to their website, the FDA implements very little regulations on feminine hygiene products because they are “medical devices,” meaning that the ingredients aren’t required to be listed on the product or disclosed by the company.

FDA “regulations” are protecting companies like Procter & Gamble who have refused to disclose information about the chemicals in their products. 

“It’s a balancing act – sharing enough information to be helpful, but not too much that it’s confusing,” said Damon Jones, a P&G representative, after being confronted about the issue.

I’m calling on all Brookings residents, men and women, to take a stand.

Women, invest in organic products made by companies like Seventh Generation, Natracare, and Organic Essentials. Big brand companies (Kotex, Playtex, O.B., Stayfree, etc.) care more about the money they make than our well-being. Placing money into their hands could be placing your life on death row.

Men, you may be uncomfortable with the topic of periods, but by stepping out of your comfort zone, sharing this information with others, and voicing your support for the Robin Danielson Act, you could protect the health of women you care about.

After Jennifer Ritter’s painful TSS experience, she only wishes for a safer world in feminine hygiene. 

“I hope this story touches enough women to take their tampon habits more seriously,” Ritter said. “I am proud to share my story and spread the word.”