Tampons are (almost) an inevitable part of life for people with vaginas.
However, now that we live in an increasingly environmentally conscious world, their sustainability has been called into question. While some people have opted to use a moon cup as a recyclable alternative, others have taken a novel approach when it comes to surviving their time of the month in a sustainable way: crocheted tampons.
But now, doctors have now issued a warning against using them.
According to doctors, crochet tampons can cause a number of problems including infection, irritation, and toxic shock syndrome.
Crocheted tampons appear to have originated on Esty and were created with the noble intent of being reusable. EcoFriendlyGift4You sold a set of three "eco-friendly reusable crocheted tampons" in various sizes for $5.78.
The product description reads: "Benefits of these tampons - they are reusable and contribute less waste to the environment.
"As compared to menstrual cups, these are oftentimes cheaper. Besides, using the reusable tampons reduce your carbon footprint, they are chemical-free and reduces infections."
When asked about the safety of the products by the Metro, Elena, the shop owner, said: "You are right, the medical aspect is very important in this matter.
"Only proper care can ensure the safety and sterility of reusable tampons. Timely boiling or soaking in a special solution and steaming. I tell you about this in the product description and in the instructions that are attached to each purchase.
"But only the buyer can do all this.
"For my part, I ensure the quality of the product. I use only natural yarn: non-mercerized cotton and organic yarn 80% cotton, 20% linen, which meets the STANDARD 100 from OEKO-TEX."
However, while Elena might think that her customers can use her crochet tampons safely, this is not the opinion of experts, who also expressed concerns over Elena's claim that her product could reduce vaginal infections.
Dr. Leila Frodsham, Consultant Gynaecologist and Spokesperson for the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, told the Metro: "We do not recommend reusable crochet tampons as they have not been tested effectively and could have harmful effects for women.
"It is not known how to clean crochet tampons appropriately, to avoid any build-up of bacteria on the tampon, and in the vagina, which may lead to toxic shock syndrome.
"There are a number of safe and sustainable sanitary options available, such as reusable sanitary towels and menstrual cups, which we would recommend instead."
In light of this advice, the positive reviews of the crochet tampons are concerning.
This opinion was shared by Dr. Jennifer Gunter, who said that people should "beware" reusable tampons sold online because they have not been tested effectively enough.
"Crochet tampons are completely untested," she told Forbes. "We have no idea how they may affect the production of bacteria associated with toxic shock syndrome or the toxin and no idea how to clean them appropriately."
But this shouldn't dishearten anyone who wants an eco-friendly time of the month. Moon cups are safe and an increasing number of companies are developing eco-friendly and biodegradable period products.