A video on social media claims that the use of tampons can replace vaginal steaming. We fact-checked and found the claim to be False. Vaginal steaming cannot be replaced by the use of tampons.
Can tampons pull moisture from the vagina to cause tumors, ovarian cysts, or fibroids?
No evidence shows that tampons can pull moisture from the vagina to cause tumors, ovarian cysts or fibroids. These medical conditions are caused by genetic and cellular changes and are unrelated to tampons or vaginal moisture. Fibroids are abnormal growths that forms in the uterus. Sometimes these tumors become quite large to cause abdominal pain and heavy periods. Ovarian cysts are fluid-filled sacs formed mostly due to hormonal imbalance or an underlying health issue. Whereas tumors form because of abnormal cell growth.
There is currently no credible evidence that explains how tampons cause these medical conditions. The U.S. Food and Drug administration (FDA) website shows that single-use FDA approved tampons are made of rayon, cotton or their blend. The website informs that manufacturers have to submit data tampons’ details that can ensure the product is safe to use. Some safety parameters that confirms tampon is safe include:
- strength and integrity
- ability to enhance the growth of certain harmful bacteria or change normal bacteria levels in the vagina
However, we also found evidence that shows the use of tampons can cause toxic shock syndrome, which is a rare but sometimes a fatal condition. Toxic shock syndrome can occur when a tampon is worn for an excessively long duration. This condition can be prevented by changing tampons are frequent time intervals. But the syndrome is not related to tumors, ovarian cysts, or fibroids.
Besides this, some evidence shows that tampons contains harmful chemicals like dioxin that may cause cancer. However, the available research is understudied and not enough to reach any conclusion. Evidence also shows that even exposure to dioxin from food is higher than tampons.
A research paper published in 2019 shows that tampons may temporarily increase vaginal dryness by inappropriately absorbing the body discharge. Other evidence debunks the growing concerns over the perceived risk of cancer-associated chemicals found in tampons.
We asked Dr Sarthak Moharir, Chief Radiation Oncologist Apollo Cancer Centre Bilaspur, whether tampons can pull moisture from the vagina to cause tumors. To this, he said “Tampons are used by people who menstruate ONLY during the days when they bleed. The vagina is a self-lubricating organ so ‘pulling moisture’ isn’t a real thing. The secretory glands will simply make more. Secondly, there is no evidence to support the theory that a ‘dry vagina’ can cause tumors. Post-menopausal women experience a dry vagina, and it’s a very common occurrence. Definitely, using tampons doesn’t correlate with developing cancer.”
Dr Moujhuri Nandi, Consultant Radiation Oncologist at Karkinos Healthcare Pvt. ltd., explains ‘A chemical compound named dioxin is found in tampons because of the bleaching process used during manufacturing process. Though the quantity of dioxin is less, still it is categorised as “can cause cancer” by US EPA (Environmental protection agency). Note that dioxins are also found in the environment, including drinking water. So, its cumulative accumulation may ONLY THEORETICALLY increase the disease risk’.
Dr Nandi further informed that “VOCs (Volatile organic compounds) like alkenes, benzenes and other hydrocarbons are found in higher quantities in sprays, washes and powders and to a much lesser extent in pads and tampons. Exposure to high concentrations or long-term exposure of VOCs has been associated with many known or suspected effects including irritation to eyes, skin and nose; damage to the respiratory system, liver and kidney, reproductive effects and carcinogenicity”.
From our research, it is clear that no evidence confirms the claim made and the safety of tampons has never been investigated. It is not the first time that tampons have been claimed to cause serious health issues. THIP MEDIA has previously debunked the claim that titanium dioxide in tampons cause cancer.
Can the use of tampons replace vaginal steaming?
No evidence shows that the use of tampons can replace vaginal steaming. We ran a quick Google reverse image search on a few keyframes of the claimed video and found the original version of a talk show ‘Caresha Please’. In the video, we found no reference to scientific evidence to back the claims made.
Tampon is a menstrual product that is inserted into the vagina during menstruation designed to absorb blood. Whereas vaginal steaming is a process of squatting or sitting over a pot of hot, steaming water that is infused with herbs. A blanket is often wrapped around the lower body to prevent the steam from escaping.
A research paper published in 2017 informs that vaginal steaming has been touted for offering benefits around improving fertility and overall reproductive, sexual or even general health and wellbeing. Even a report released in 2012 by the World Health Organization (WHO) found that vaginal steaming is common in Indonesia, Mozambique, South Africa and Thailand. The study found that vaginal steaming or smoking, was practiced by some women for maintaining wellness as well as their identity. Some women also preferred it after a childbirth. Other reasons mentioned in the report include vaginal tightening or as an overall beauty treatment.
We researched and found no evidence that can scientifically prove these benefits. On the contrary, a research paper published in 2019 informs about a case of second-degree burns following vaginal steaming.
Frequently, we come across conflicting social media posts asserting the efficacy of quick home remedies for enhancing vaginal health. Just like in this case, we have previously refuted the claim that groundnut water can tighten the vagina.
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