What are organic tampons - and should I start using them?

Organic tampons are better for the environment.
Organic tampons are better for the environment.

There are more options than ever for how to deal with your period, including menstrual cups and period panties. But let's face it: tampons still reign supreme (they're the easiest and most affordable option).

But now, more and more organic tampon options are popping up, which likely has you wondering if you need to make the switch. But uh, what exactly does "organic" mean when it comes to tampons, and does it really matter if your period supplies are all-natural?

What's the difference between regular tampons and organic tampons?

Organic tampons differ from conventional tampons in several ways, says Alyssa Dweck, MD, an ob-gyn in Westchester, New York, and author of The Complete A to Z for Your V.

First, organic tampons are typically made from 100% organic cotton unlike regular tampons, which are made of rayon and/or non-organic cotton. Organic tampons are also bleached with peroxide, while conventional tampons are bleached to be bright-white with chlorine.

Read more: Help! My tampon is stuck inside me

According to Dweck, when tampons are bleached with chlorine, it creates dioxin as a byproduct. Dioxin is a known carcinogen (a substance that is capable of causing cancer) and possible hormone disruptor, but – and this is a big but – the FDA requires all tampon manufacturers to monitor dioxin levels, so it's not something you need to worry about, says Dr Dweck.

Organic tampon manufacturers, on the other hand, claim that their tampons are free of those hormone-disrupting chemicals, as well as other synthetic materials used for absorbency, pesticides, and GMOs used in cotton production – but, according to Dr Dweck, those "differences" haven't been scientifically studied, so take those with a grain of salt.

Well, are there any benefits of using organic tampons instead of conventional ones?

One plus of using organic tampons is that they are usually unscented, which can be beneficial for women with sensitive skin, Dr Dweck says.

But other than that, it comes down to personal preference. “The bottom line, though, is that conventional tampons are monitored by the FDA and are, by and large, safe for most women,” she says.

Read more: Can you sleep with a tampon in?

Another thing to take into consideration: Organic tampons won't slash your risk of toxic shock syndrome (TSS), a rare, but life-threatening bacterial infection. “Toxic shock syndrome is possible with conventional or organic tampons, cotton or synthetic, organic cotton or nonorganic cotton,” says Dr Dweck.

“The risk is associated with absorbency and length of tampon use – the more absorbent and the longer a tampon is left in the vagina, the higher the risk of TSS," she says, which is why she suggests using the least absorbent tampon for your flow and keeping track of how long you keep it in (no longer than six to eight hours at a time).

So do you need 'em? Not exactly – but if you are interested in trying out organic tampons to either minimise sensitivity or possibly reducing chemical exposure, there are tons of options to choose from. You'll ultimately need to choose one that feels best to you.

This article was originally published on www.womenshealthmag.

Image credit: iStock

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