The Tampon Connection

Some 20% of all U.S. women suffer from the painful condition known as endometriosis in which uterine tissue grows outside of the uterus on other internal body parts. The condition is severe in many women and is a frequent cause of infertility.

The odd thing is that prior to 1921 there were only 20 recorded cases of the condition, worldwide. So what gives? Why are so many women now developing this awful disease?

Tampon Usage

Some people think the reason may be tampon usage. It's not such a far-fetched idea. Research has shown that dioxin exposure may be the cause of endometriosis.

Dioxins are the by-products of plastics and items treated with chlorine. These chemical by-products are second only to radioactive waste in their apparent toxicity to human beings. You can find the stuff in anything that has undergone bleaching, for instance paper products.

Dioxin Free

Most tampons fall under this category being made from rayon or a combination of wood pulp and chlorine. A few brands are labeled 100% organic or cotton. These are the only types of tampons considered to be free of dioxin-carrying rayon.

A 2002 study called Environmental Dioxins And Endometriosis found that animals react to dioxin exposure by developing endometriosis. Scientists found that the greater the exposure to dioxins, the greater the severity of the endometriosis.

Abrasive Nature

Tampons contain numerous dioxin-producing chemicals including alcohol, aluminium, bleached rayon, and various additives. The abrasive nature of the rayon in tampons can tend to cause small cuts of the cervix and the vagina. This may, in and of itself, cause heavier vaginal bleeding during menstruation.

But rayon is also a perfect breeding ground for Staphylococcus Aureus: bacteria with a known association to Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS). Tampon usage is responsible for half of all known cases of TSS. Over the past decade or so, there have been 22 deaths related to tampon-related TSS in the UK, with the youngest being a 13 year-old girl named Kayleigh Ann Jones, who died in 1999.

The tampon manufacturers say that the dioxin levels of tampons is undetectable, therefore negligible; but experts say the stuff is poisonous at any level. Now that you've read this, you probably want to know how you can reduce your exposure to dioxins. Here's how:

All Cotton

*If you must use tampons, use those marked all-cotton, or organic. The type made from sea sponges is also a good choice. Don't leave tampons in longer than 4 hours at a time and don't use them overnight.

*Switch to disposable pads made from organic material. Gaining in popularity are washable pads. There is some evidence that women who use these reusable pads have lighter periods.

*Eat organic food

*Use recycled, unbleached paper products

*Quit smoking—cigarettes are loaded with dioxins. If you must smoke, roll your own from unbleached paper.

*Don't eat dairy products—dioxins have been found in buttermilk.

*Don't use chlorine bleach

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