As far as scary things go, tampons don't rate alongside rabid bats, Castle Greyskull, or 1920 Nosferatu films, but tampons are more likely to kill you.
Alongside toxic shock syndrome we have to think about what our tampons contain. They are not just sterile cotton wool that's been compressed into a bullet shape, oh no. It's more complicated than that.
Tampons and sanitary pads are generally made from cotton products. Cotton is a natural fibre that's subject to mass production. To keep pests away, chemicals and pesticides are used to protect the crop.
Chemicals can also be found in dyes and fragrances, but they don't have to be listed, in fact, they're not regulated. That tampon string is a bright colour, but it isn't that way naturally, and your tampon has probably been bleached with chlorine to make the cotton look whiter and more appealing.
All this amounts to you putting chemicals, pesticides, fragrances and dyes into your vagina each month. It's not looking good.
When you think about how many tampons you use in a month, a year, and a lifetime, that's potentially a lot of chemical you are placing directly into your body. These chemicals are inserted straight into your bloodstream like a medical suppository. It might only be a tiny microscopic amount on each tampon, but over time that mounts up.
The problem is we don't really know. There's little research on the toxicity of tampons. They are not regulated particularly well. There is no data that says monthly long-term tampon use is safe. On the contrary, some research suggests the toxic build up is leading to asthma, cancer and allergic skin rashes.
From a personal point of view, it can't be good to put chemicals into your body, whether you eat them, rub them onto your skin or put them in your vagina.
Moon cups have a dedicated following. These are medical grade silicone cups that collect menstrual blood rather than absorbing it. They are good because rather than flushing a tampon into our environment, the cup is re-used. This also saves you money (woo!). That said there is no long-term research on their safety either.
Going organic may be a safer bet. If you are going to use tampons its best to look for organic versions that are chlorine free. This'll give you the best chance of avoiding toxins.
It's recommended that women don't use tampons for their whole period because of potential toxic shock. If you are concerned about chemicals in tampons its worth taking a break. That's two good reasons to cut down on tampon use.
In the meantime, we should be putting pressure on the government to regulate undisclosed tampon ingredients, because when bottled water ingredients have to be labelled by law but sanitary products don't, something is not right.