Being forced to rush out for a new box of tampons every time your flow hits is one of life’s most cruel punishments, so a sensible answer would be to stock up by buying them in bulk.
But this solution may actually be harmful for your health down below, a gynecologist warns.
It turns out that tampons have an expiration date, just like food, makeup or condoms.
“Tampons have an expiry day that’s usually five years after they’re produced,” ob-gyn Alyssa Dweck told Women’s Health UK. “Think about cotton. It’s susceptible to mold and bacteria,” she added.
You’ll have quite a few periods over five years, but it’s important to look closely at the box’s expiration date, depending on where you shop.
If you buy your feminine products, you’ll likely have a longer time to use them as they may head straight from the production line to the shelves. But if you score deals at the discount store, they may be on sale because they’ve had a substantially longer shelf life.
What’ll happen if you unknowingly insert an expired tampon?
The inside of the tampon may accumulate mold and bacteria which can throw off your vagina’s natural pH levels. You might notice some itching or increased discharge as your body tries to regulate itself after being exposed to the mold or bacteria.
But even if you aren’t storing tampons to the point of expiration, the way you store them could also be inviting mold inside the cotton.
Keeping your tampons in a moist or warm place — including the bathroom, where the steamy shower creates the perfect atmosphere for bacteria growth — may allow your tampons to become breeding grounds for mold.
The worst part? That mold would grow on the cotton of your tampon, which is likely hidden by its applicator, making it nearly impossible to notice.
Your best course of action is to check that your tampons are still safe to use, then store your period products in a dry cabinet, grabbing them as needed.
Another tampon-related warning pertains to those trusty couple of tampons at the bottom of all your purses. Though they could be in there for a while, you should worry less about their shelf life and more about the wrappers that encase them.
With other items like bobby pins or pens in your bags, their sharp edges could puncture the wrapper surrounding your tampon. If that happens, it can be exposed to dust or dirt that may also lead to the growth of bacteria, which may cause infection in your lady parts.
But if you accidentally insert a bad tampon and notice discomfort, just replace it with a fresh one and you should feel back to normal soon.
If itching or discharge persists, consult your doctor as he or she may prescribe you with an antibiotic to treat infection.