As anyone with a period knows, tampons can be a saving grace. They’re perfect for on-the-go period care, and they are super compact and lightweight. But how much do you really know about these feminine hygiene products? The devices have undergone controversy over the past few decades, with talk of chemicals and contamination looming over users. With this in mind, we think it’s time for all of us to get #educated.
To learn more, here are the facts any (and every) tampon-user should know.
1. The average American woman will use about 16,000 tampons in her lifetime.
2. Throughout history, women have made tampons out of ferns, wool, grass, vegetable fibers, and paper.
3. The 1879 version of a tampon applicator involved a wooden rod and a glass tube. Ouch.
4. The chemical concerns regarding tampons began in 1975, with a brand called Rely.
5. In 1983, astronaut Sally Ride brought her tampons into space. Hell yeah.
6. Some scientists argue that the trace levels of dioxin, an endocrine disruptor, still found in some tampons should be concerning to us.
7. The first Anti-Tampon Conference was hosted at James Madison University in 2000.
8. In the United States, women spend over $2 billion per year on feminine hygiene products.
9. It is not required that tampon companies list ingredients on tampon boxes.
10. If you have a normal/heavy flow, you should change your tampon every four to six hours. Eight hours is the generally recommended max.
11. Some scientists are working on using period blood to detect early signs of cancer and reproductive diseases, like endometriosis.
12. Scientists in Vienna are working on developing a vaccine that would protect against Toxic Shock Syndrome.
13. Though most tampon companies don’t list their ingredients, smaller start-ups like LOLA are shaking up the industry.
14. Legislation requiring the government to conduct more research on tampons has been proposed, but never passed.
15. Some period companies have created business models that center around donating tampons to those in need.
16. Feminine hygiene products — including tampons — are taxed as “luxury” items by a majority of states.
17. Period Equity, a law and policy institute centered around menstruation, is fighting for menstrual equity in Washington. Right on!