by Roni Bregman
I work for a tampon manufacturer and we sell 100% medical-grade cotton tampons for which the cotton has NOT been chlorine-bleached ergo, no dioxin. When we first began getting a lot of phone calls from a small story in SELF Magazine, we began doing a marketing survey. After talking to 4 women (all on the first day of our survey) who had suffered from Toxic Shock Syndrome, we added health questions to the survey. We were looking for subclinical cases of TSS, and asked women about all the possible symptoms of TSS. We found that 25% of women had suffered from 6 of the major TSS symptoms or more. (official rate is about 1.7%)
We asked about endometriosis -- and found that 12 to 15% of women had the diagnosis. I have read an Edana paper (Edana is the association of manufacturers of fluff pulp or rayon menstrual care products) that estimates endometriosis in about 15 to 30% of women.
We asked if any had Genital Warts- 10 to 12%
We asked if they had an abnormal PAP smear - 12 to 15%
We asked which brands of tampons they had used. This included Tampax, Playtex, O.B., Kotex, Generic or store brands, Cotton, or none.
After speaking to a minimum of 100 women per week for 10 weeks, we also put the survey up on our web site. This allowed us to reach over 3000 women.
Within two weeks, I began to notice that if a woman had genital warts or an abnormal pap smear, I just 'knew' which brand she was using. And, it holds up. Because of the item you published in your newsletter, I am still speaking to women and it still holds true.
98% of them are using tampons that expand lengthwise -- -usually Tampax. Tampax has about 58% of the market. So, if the link was just tampon use, it would be distributed just like the sales figures -- -58% Tampax, 10% OB, 20% Playtex, 7% Kotex, the rest Generic. Instead, we have 98% of the women with abnormal pap smears and genital warts using Tampax.
In my opinion (and I am NOT a medical professional), it is because they are in applicators. Women insert them as far as possible. They absorb blood and body fluids and expand up and past the cervix to one of the fornices. This rubs against the cervix and these abrasions from insertion and removal open paths for HPV to enter.
It does not help that women are eating, drinking, breathing and inserting tampons that contain dioxin (which are hormone disruptors). They are all estrogen rich -- -with consequences such as heavier periods. (The FDA is now looking at approving a SUPER PLUS PLUS absorbancy for this condition.)
COMMENT: I am very grateful to Roni for sharing this information. As she mentioned, this is NOT a scientifically controlled random sample. However, it does not mean that we can not take home some valuable information. I was unaware that this was such a huge issue for women’s health and will be advising ALL women to avoid using Tampax and to seek out the 100% non-Dioxin containing cotton tampons.