what is toxic shock syndrome

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People are selling homemade tampons on Etsy

Experts warn: buyer beware.


Alexandra Samuels

Internet Culture

Published Feb 21, 2020   Updated Feb 21, 2020, 11:02 am CST

The market for feminine hygiene products is exploding. But there’s a potentially new harmful trend on the rise: homemade tampons. 

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On Etsy, customers can purchase rolled felt attached to string or cotton cloth pads with colorful fabrics. There are also crochet-knitted tampons marketed as toys.

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But buyer beware, experts warn. While they may seem like a more affordable and eco-friendly alternative, these crafts can lead to deadly infections, the New York Post reports.

“We don’t really know the long-term effects,” Dr. Adeeti Gupta told the Post. “It’s true that these materials are ‘natural,’ but we don’t know how they behave for a period of time in the internal vaginal environment.”

Gupta said the female reproductive organ is home to a number of bacteria and other enzymes. 

“How all of these interact with a foreign body is key and we don’t have enough data to see what kind of byproducts or chemicals are generated,” she said.

The “chemical environment” of the body can also be harsh, Gupta added, which could cause homemade tampons to become “partially disintegrated” or leave fibers behind once removed. 

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If that’s not convincing enough: “These could cause vaginal infections and possibly toxic shock syndrome,” she says, which can lead to rash, high fever, vomiting or diarrhea, muscle aches, seizure, renal failure, and death.

Many of the online retailers didn’t respond to the Post’s requests for comment about their products.

This latest internet trend isn’t the only potentially harmful feminine hygiene product on the market. Even store-bought tampons—which often contain odor neutralizers or chemicals—can be harmful.

Gupta says “inert” is the ideal material for a pad or tampon, meaning it won’t react with the chemicals of the body. When shopping, she recommends looking out for 100% “pure cotton” with no perfumes, dyes, chlorine, pesticide residues, and other additives.


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H/T Jezebel

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*First Published: Feb 21, 2020, 11:01 am CST