Most women experience menstruation at some point in their lives. We have to use pads, tampons, cups, or some sort of product because obviously we can't just walk around bleeding everywhere.
Personally, I've heard more people talk about how they use tampons than pads. It just seems to be the more popular choice. Nothing wrong with that, right? Wrong. There's this thing called toxic shock syndrome, or TSS, that is apparently rare, but it's a bacterial infection, most commonly caused by tampons, that is life-threatening.
TSS was something I had heard about when I was younger and first experienced a period, but I guess I just never thought twice about it.
But then, in 2012, model Lauren Wasser lost her right leg and some of the toes on her left foot because of this. She was having to go to "weekly treatments to manage the damage to her left foot." Luckily, Wasser chose to see the good in her unfortunate situation, using this as a chance to speak up, share her experience, and warn other women. She has owned her prosthetic leg, given a TEDtalk, and began advocating that companies disclose more information about the ingredients in their feminine products. In 2015, the Wasser family even filed a lawsuit against the company that manufactures Kotex products.
Unfortunately, Wasser's journey with TSS didn't end there. In January 2018, her left leg was amputated because of this same issue.
What's even scarier is that, while this is one of the most popular TSS cases, there are others that we don't even hear about.
My roommate was the one who told me about the most recent case that blew up on the internet about a girl who died "in her mother's arms." From this conversation, I remembered seeing a story about a girl who died on a school trip in 2018 due to TSS. When I googled it to read these stories, that's when I found multiple other stories of young girls who also died from TSS. Just Google "teen girl dies from TSS." I also Googled "daily mail uk teen girl dies from TSS" because I was looking for a specific article and that's when the reality of this "rare" disease really hit me.
It's terrifying that so many young women have died just because they used a product that is necessary for us during menstruation each month.
Out of curiosity from all this, I looked at my tampon boxes. There's a warning about how usage is linked to TSS, but there's no list of what is in the products. And that is absolutely ridiculous. I have a right to know exactly what is in a product that comes in contact with my body. A product that I have to have.
About a week or so ago, Kenyan women began sharing their experiences with Always brand pads and the physical side effects they were experiencing after using these products. We all have the right to know what these companies are using to create their products and why they are so harmful to our bodies.
Do better, feminine hygiene producers. Fix your products.
In the meantime, Target sells organic tampons that are supposed to be free of bleach, chemicals, dyes, and fragrances. There are multiple brands as well. Save yourself, ladies, because these companies apparently aren't going to do it.