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Email: Tampax Pearl Tampons Cause Yeast Infection, Bleeding

Netlore Archive: Anonymous email rumor claims loose fibers from Tampax Pearl tampons can cause yeast infection and cervical bleeding.

Description: Email rumor
Circulating since: June 2003
Status: Denied by manufacturer

Email text contributed by L. Sanders, July 1, 2003:

A woman I work with started using the new Tampax Pearl 5 months ago and that's when she started getting yeast infections. They got worse and worse every month and being experienced with yeast infections, she used over-the-counter treatments. They didn't help. She finally went to her doctor, who did a PAP Smear, which didn't reveal anything.

As it got worse, she finally went to her OB-Gyn, who also did a PAP Smear. It didn't test positive, but bacteria showed up. She was then given a prescription to treat a yeast infection and went home. She went back as it got worse and also when, one day while using the bathroom, a clump of something came out. She had no idea what it was initially and threw it away. She quickly thought better of it and wrapped it up and brought it with her in a Ziploc baggie to yet another visit to the doctor. She had figured out what it was herself and the doctor confirmed it. It was the Tampax Pearl fibers. They had been collecting for the past 5 months! ! She even took an unopened tampon and showed me how the fibers come off so easily. You wouldn't notice because the applicator covers it. And how many people open up a tampon and inspect them?

Well, it hasn't ended yet. When she went in last, the doctor went to get some cultures, but found that her cervix was bleeding and it prevented her from getting all the cultures that she needed. The fibers from the tampon are cutting her and making her bleed. But the blood is having a hard time getting out and so there was a lot of old blood in the way when the doctor tried to take the cultures. Right now, she is not being treated for anything, not until they can figure out how to treat her. Poor woman is uncomfortable and in pain! Most likely, they'll have to do a D&C (did I use the right letters?) to clean it all out. Another girl that I work with also has been using them for a few months and has been having problems, but couldn't figure it out. She won't be using them anymore. I have used a few, just to try them, but will be throwing out any that I have left. I am also going to go home and inspect my regular tampons to see if fibers come off of those also. By the way, my friend's doctor is writing a letter to the company and my friend is looking into filing a lawsuit. This is affecting her in every aspect of her life. She is also very afraid now of TSS. She told me and every woman she knows in order to get the word out, so no one else has to go through this. I said I'd spread the word. I know a yeast infection is an awful thing to experience, but this is so much worse!

Analysis: "This is simply not true," says Tampax Pearl manufacturer Procter & Gamble in the product FAQ section of its website. The following reasons are cited:

  1. According to the medical literature, tampons do not promote yeast infections.
  2. The email's account of the alleged problem, diagnosis and treatment is confused and inconsistent with standard medical knowledge and practice.
  3. It is an anonymous, thirdhand account that can't be verified with an original source.
  4. The manufacturer has not been contacted by any physician, lawyer or government agency regarding the specific incident.

Judging from a quick scan of the medical literature, it's a fact that tampons have been implicated in cases of vaginal bleeding, but such cases look to be fairly rare and definitely predate the marketing of the Tampax Pearl brand. It's also a fact that tampons — all tampons, mind you — can leave a fiber residue in women's bodies, but researchers have found this has "no pathologic significance."

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Sources and further reading:

Tampax Pearl Tampons FAQ
From Tampax Pearl (Procter & Gamble) Website

Vaginal Ulcers Associated with Tampon Usage
Obstetrics and Gynecology, July 1980 (abstract)

Prevelence, Identification, Significance of Fiber Contaminants in Cervical Smears
Acta Cytologica, May-June 1996

Tampon Safety: TSS Now Rare, but Women Should Take Care
U.S. Food & Drug Administration, March-April 2000

Last updated: 07/04/03

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