Category: Uncategorized

Reflection Statement – Be Mindful of…

My final project is a blog post research on the viewpoints of users of tampons and its effects on human health. The problematic issue this piece aims to address is the minimal information that is available to users in terms of the production materials used in creating tampons. Almost 80 percent of women across the world make use of tampons today. However, they are hardly aware of some of the material or ingredients used in creating them and the hazardous effect it could have on their health. This is important to address because our health is important to us. More so, there are thousands of women who have either died or fallen sick from using high absorbent tampons. Tampon companies advertise high absorbent tampons as something that empowers women in their menstrual cycle. It proposes that women will no longer have to worry constantly changing their tampons and can feel more relaxed in public. However, these are the types that are often detrimental to our health.

This research aims to find out; what are some of the health issues surrounding the use of tampons? What are the stories of the current consumers of tampons? How do people feel about using tampons? What are some materials that are used in making tampons that are detrimental to our health? Furthermore, considering some of the negative stories around the use of tampons, should consumers be worried about what is sold to them by many tampon brands. I argue that companies retain information about their products that could be harmful to users when advertising for a profit. Tampon brands rarely put any information about the production process or materials on the product and this is affecting consumers as they are unaware of what is good or bad for them.

In one of our classes, we did a reading that focused on the issues surrounding the use of tampons. Prior to this, I had no knowledge of the health effects attached to the use of tampons. Personally, I do not use tampons, so I do not care about them too much. However, we had done implosions on a variety of objects and I was excited about how much I learnt while doing it. Hence, when I found out about the final project, I was eager to focus my research on a different product from the one I did during the implosion. I was immediately drawn to tampons because I remember being very upset about the issue of TSS and other comments that came up in the reading. The fact that a significant number of women died due to the use of tampon was overwhelming. I remember asking my friends and sister if they would make use of a tampon and they passively said no simply because it was uncomfortable. However, when I told them about TSS, they immediately became interested and more unwilling to use tampons. The issue with tampons worries me because I am a woman, and this is an object that we are advised to insert into our bodies and people are generally passive about things provided they work as they should. Hence, I hoped to bring awareness to these issues and to prompt users to become more aware of the products they consume, using the example of tampons and TSS.

Before doing anything, I created an outline of how I wanted my writing to go and put down some key questions I would want to answer with this piece. With this in mind, I began to do research on tampons, the materials, production, what users say about it and what the news is saying about it. Afterwards, during my research, I found out from one of the various stories that a user found a metal pin like object in her tampon, TSS is common amongst younger women and many people find using tampons a bit uncomfortable. However, many women still make use of them. Initially, I wanted to do an implosion on the object but after doing my research, I figured it would be more interesting to do a blog post that people can read and would bring awareness about the core issues I am addressing to them, in a much simpler and relatable context. Due to the medium of my project, it is a bit complex to engage readers with a broad topic in a short time. Hence, it was challenging to condense my content and research into a piece that is engaging to readers and still has enough information about the issue I am addressing. Also, in the final piece, I created hyperlinks to the news article pages that are referenced. However, the two readings are referenced here.

With regards to the readings, I focused on the week 11 readings about tampons and its history. The first reading I observed was the Ashley Fetters article on the history of a tampon. In this article, Ashley points out that though people use a lot of tampons, there are still so many questions and confusions around the product itself. Can people sleep with a tampon on? How long can one wear it for? Ashley also points out that there has been little to no success in trying to get companies to put adequate information that is helpful to users on their product. She argues that brands like “Playtex list its basic ingredients in its packaging, but it does not specify whether fibres had been bleached or chemically modified to enhance absorbency” (Fetters, 2015) This is detrimental to user’s health because if absorbency levels are tampered with, it could result in TSS. This reading is vital to my paper because it provided insight and some quotes regarding the problematic I hope to bring awareness to. The second reading I observed was the Sharra Vostral’s article on TSS, Tampon Absorbency and Feminist Science. In this reading, Sharra gives an example of a lady who died due to the use of a superabsorbent tampon. Sharra talks about feminist scientists who stood up to speak for the rights of women’s bodies and the importance of regulation when it comes to the production and distribution process of tampons. This paper was relevant because it shed light on the fact that there are people out there already fighting for these issues, but there still needs to be awareness and rules that govern the process of production so much so that companies are held accountable for what they distribute to consumers and are responsible for providing users with adequate information about the product such that they are well equipped to decide which product they wish to purchase.

Overall, I enjoyed creating this piece and in the future, I would love to do more research to find out what the situation with tampons is and if companies are providing adequate and useful information about products to their users.

REFERENCES

Ashley Fetters. 2015. “The Tampon: A History (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site..” The Atlantic

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/toxic-shock-syndrome/

Sharra Vostral. 2017. “Toxic Shock Syndrome, Tampon Absorbency, and Feminist Science.” Catalyst  3(1): 1-30.

Be Mindful of the things You Consume or Put into Your Body.

Should we be worried about what is sold to us?

Recently, I have learned, analysed and engaged with issues surrounding race, gender, capitalism, science and technology. These are issues that affect our lives in various ways that we do not recognize. Specifically, technology; is something that shapes and changes society at every turn and with any invention. It is part of what determines how we relate to and with one another.

We hear so much talk and action about women empowerment, feminism, care for the human body and acceptance of ourselves on the news today. Personal hygiene is one of the ways we can care for our bodies and one of the major benefits of hygiene is having better health. A woman is someone who goes through various cycles in her life. These cycles include, but are not limited to; puberty, menstruation, childbirth, and even old age. When it comes to a woman’s body, there is a lot that we need to pay attention to, especially when it comes to cleanliness throughout the various cycles. It is important that a woman strives to stay clean throughout so that she is healthier.

I am a young woman and I know the importance and need for cleanliness in a woman’s life. Majority of the women in the world today, menstruate and this is one of the many cycles we go through in our lives. It is important to ensure that this cycle does not affect our day to day activities.  Hence, we clean up ourselves, ensure we are not soiled during it and endeavour to keep it in check. Some women take measures (IUD’s) that would prevent them from menstruating at all. Nonetheless, there are many companies out there that create products that help women keep this cycle (menstruation) in check. Companies such as; Always, Kortex, P&G,  Tampax and Playtex. Many of these companies sell products (Sanitary towels and Tampons) that cater to women’s cycle and promise to keep it in check.

However, many of these companies use advertisement and assertive tones to detract user’s attention from some health issues attached to the use of their products. Specifically, I am referring to the use of tampons. A tampon is a feminine hygiene product designed to absorb the menstrual flow by insertion into the vagina during menstruation. Once inserted correctly a tampon is held in place by the vagina and expands as it soaks up menstrual blood. Most tampons are made of rayon or a blend of rayon and cotton. Tampons are available in several absorbency ratings. About 70 – 80 percent of women around the world make use of tampons. Yet, there are several things they do not know about the production materials involved in creating a tampon. There is minimalist to zero information about what goes into the production process. In some cases, when there are notes on a tampon box, it often refers to absorbency levels, brand name and aesthetics. Hence, users are limited to believing that the product will keep their cycle in check but are not aware of the impact of the production materials on their health. In consideration of this, we will view what some users have to say about tampons, some issues relating to its use and the experiences of some past users of tampons and how it affected their health or life.

First, let us talk about rayon. Rayon is a manufactured fibre made from regenerated cellulose fibre. It can imitate the feel and texture of natural fibres. However, if the chemicals are not handled properly, users can be harmed by the carbon disulfide used to manufacture rayon. Hence, this material can be bad for you. In 2017, the Catalyst published an article by Sharra regarding Toxic Shock Syndrome, Tampon Absorbency, and Feminist Science. Toxic shock syndrome (TSS) is a rare but life-threatening condition caused by bacteria getting into the body and releasing harmful toxins. It is often associated with tampon absorbency levels. The article talks about thousands of women who got sick and hundreds of women who died from TSS due to high absorbency rate of the tampon (Sharra, p.2, 2017). Let us be a bit more visual here. A lady inserts wool-like material that is attached to a rope into her vagina and then she leaves it in for more than a couple of hours because it says on the box “superabsorbent”. The wool then absorbs the most it can and the rest is, well… Ordinarily, women are advised to change their sanitary towels every 3 – 4 hours for pure hygiene sake. So why does a tampon that is inserted into the body advice otherwise?

According to an article on The Atlantic, Ashley argues that “some women—particularly young women who had never given birth—found Rely (P&G brand) tampons to be painful to remove “because they would absorb so much that they would stick to the vaginal walls.”. Ashley goes on to suggest that, “after rely, consumers began to realize just how little they knew about what was actually in tampons. Several groups, like the Boston Women’s Health Book Collective (the publishers of Our Bodies, Ourselves) and Women’s Health International pushed for manufacturers to reveal full lists of tampons’ ingredients and none of these groups was successful”. The catalyst points out that “the Centers for Disease Control recommended that women limit their use of superabsorbent tampons since the risk for Toxic Shock Syndrome increased with greater levels of absorption. However, women had no way of following this advice because products did not have consistent absorbency labels”. Hence, brands are putting out their product to profit off them and are outrightly disregarding its effects on consumers.

Here are some Reddit comments on peoples views and perceptions on Tampons:

“I don’t prefer pads, but I’m very paranoid. You hear one story about your drunk friend forgetting to remove her tampon before shoving a new one in, only to have to go to the hospital a week later, and you just know it’s only a matter of time before it happens to you”.

“I’ve also noticed I have way way worse cramps when I use tampons”.

“I know how to use tampons, but they’re still pretty uncomfortable, especially when taking them out (but then again, I don’t really like having things inside of me). Also, I’m never able to tell when to change them unless they leak”.

Asides from the Reddit comments, there are other stories about people who have had issues using tampons. There is a stro=y about a woman who found a sharp object on the wool of her tampon. Click here to find out more.

Do not get me wrong, not all women hate tampons. Like I said earlier, there are about 70 percent of women who make use of tampons all over the world. Some of them love it, some are quite comfortable with it and others prefer it to sanitary towels (pads). However, the issues I bring to light and want you to focus on are that, if companies are going to persuade us through their ads and convince us that tampons are the way to go so that they can make a profit? Why can’t they tell us what we are consuming in detail? Feminists have tried to cater to this issue as we have seen in some of the referenced articles and still no results. However, they are still trying and putting in the work to ensure our safety. I personally do not use tampons, but it is upsetting how risky some of the products we consume are. It is even more upsetting to think that due to the ignorance of some, others are dead or laying ill. Often, technology and science restrict the information that is important to us, either for experimental purposes or for profit making. We as consumers and in fact women should pay more attention to the details when it comes to things we consume and put into our bodies.

Kindly follow the link to find the reflection statement for this project.