Moldy Tampon Turmoil

  “Eww”; it’s a reaction we hear a lot from people who are learning about the concept of reusable menstrual products for the first time. Frankly, we aren’t surprised that people are uncomfortable with the idea, given the amount of fear and shame that has followed menstruation around, pretty much since the dawn of humanity. With all the negative advertising used to sell conventional menstrual products, the culture of silence surrounding menstruation, and the apparent lack of interest from the scientific and medical community in regards to menstrual issues, there’s a lot of baggage and misinformation to overcome in order for people to get comfortable with their reproductive systems and their byproducts. I’m frankly encouraged and impressed by the amount of people who DO use reusable menstrual products!

And yet the “Eww” factor always manages to baffle me. We hear it from all kinds of people; tampon users, disposable pad users, cloth diapering moms, feminists, environmentalists, young and old. The reason is always the same, “You want me to wash my pads/cup and use them again!? Isn’t that unsanitary?”

Well guess what, folks? I am here to tell you that the disposable products you may currently be using might not be as “sanitary” as you think.

For most menstrual products that’s not necessarily the end of the world. Pads are worn externally and since most folks don’t sterilize their underwear, the sterility of externally worn products isn’t really a necessity. Things get a little trickier when it comes to tampons, however.

The vagina contains some of the most sensitive and absorbent tissue in our bodies and it’s because of this that tampon usage can be potentially dangerous. Disposable menstrual products are manufactured and packaged in a factory setting, not a sterile environment by any means, and all that plastic wrapping? Doesn’t necessarily mean anything. You can seal anything in plastic, it doesn’t mean that it’s sterile. We already don’t know what ingredients might be used in disposable tampons, as manufacturers are not required to disclose this information. While one could argue that the materials used to make tampons are probably safe-ish (The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics begs to differ) sometimes things end up in tampons that even the manufacturers don’t expect.

Today we stumbled across this highly disturbing post from  Her story? That she found a moldy tampon in a brand new box of tampons. Ya, you read that right; MOLDY. This kind of moldy:

Tampon images via

Danielle reported the incident to the manufacturer and in their initial response they state that they have performed studies and found that the kind of mold it appears to be is “a common environmental species that carries no health risk” and that they “are diligently reviewing our manufacturing process to ensure this problem does not recur.” 

While this mold doesn’t carry a health risk this time, wouldn’t you rather have better knowledge and control over the substances that you are inserting into your body? Personally I am far more grossed out by the idea of a moldy tampon than by the prospect of having to, heaven forbid, TOUCH my own menstrual fluid and wash it off of a Lunapad or DivaCup!

Related Posts:
Quelle Horreur: I Almost Inserted a Moldy Tampon
The Tale of the Moldy Tampon
Expert Tips on Avoiding Moldy Tampons
What’s up with eww?
Expert Tips on Avoiding Moldy Tampons
The Tale of the Moldy Tampon

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  • crystalclear

    This makes me grossed out, mad and glad that I switched! I re-posted this on my FB because it just amazes me. I will also be writing something about this on my new blog!

    •  Thanks for sharing, Crystal!

      • crystalclear

        I was to disgusted that this could happen. I used to wear tampons before switching to Luna Pads as a friend of mine convinced me (also all the cute patterns ;)). Who knows if that ever happened to me because you never see the thing until you take it out after you’ve used it. Anyway I think more people should see this!

      • crystalclear

        Also put this on my local news TV station! I hope they use this as a story!

  • Nasty! Glad I’ve been using the Diva Cup and Luna Pads for the past 5 years or so!

  •  So gross. I only occasionally use tampons, and now I think I might not even use them at all.

  • Fred

    wow.  first, how does one “accidentally” knock a tampon out of its applicator?  and that one just happend to be moldy?  did she then open every other one in the box?  were they moldy too?  did she report it to the manufacturer?  how about the CDC, because mold can cause disease you know.  HAHA!  This is all a load of crap.  Urban Legend perhaps?  stop attacking corporations in order to try to boost your own product. 

    • I’m not sure if she opened all the other tampons, Fred. Maybe you should ask the Blogger who reported this experience on her blog. If it were me I would have just thrown them all away.
      As you can see from the link, yes she did report it to the manufacturer. I doubt that it would be an urban legend. Kotex knows about the problem as they have conducted tests on this mold already and have commented on this particular case on their social media profiles.
      I’m not attacking Kotex, but rather calling into question the safety of tampons as a whole. Obviously there needs to be more rigorous standards and regulations on the industry if this kind of thing is happening so often and putting so many women at risk.
      Also I’m not really sure why you are laughing at this. Mold CAN cause illness and pretty severe allergic reactions.

      • Alexis Vorpahl

        AND I for one am glad that you are questioning it Luna Gals! More people need to understand the risks especially the ladies who wear them constantly!I will take a cloth pad over a tampon any day! 

    • Alexis Vorpahl

      Hahaha! Hello Fred! Do you have vagina? Excuse me for being so bold, but you must be an idiot.. it is quite easy to knock a tampon out of the applicator.. if it was so ” tightly” secured how would the dang thing get inserted in the first place? Just something to think about it is not uncommon to push it out of the applicator a bit or all the way… 

    • Anon

      You’re an idiot.

    • mandy

      Have you ever used a tampon?? it is a common thing to accidentally knock a tampon out of it’s applicator.

    • Shut the Fuck Up, Fred

      You are such a dumbass. Why the hell are you even on a site about pads?? You apparently don’t have a girlfriend or you would know all about how they come out. They are in fact, hard to keep in the plastic while opening. I’ve had a discolored tampon before. It didn’t seem like mold, but I still didn’t use it. Why don’t you stick that moldy tampon up your ass and tell me how you like it. Better yet, stick it in your mouth and shut the fuck up.   

    • Jennifer Harper

      Fred just because you are a douche, does not make you an expert on feminine hygiene products. (Yeah I know his remark was posted 2 yeas ago but idiocy like Fred’s has no shelf life.)

  • Bekah

    In response to Fred – seriously, they come out of the applicator.  It happens.  She did contact the manufacturer and they emailed her back – she posted their response on her blog.  It all just happened today.  Not an Urban Legend. 🙂

  • I’m making a video NOW! Women need to know!! 

    •  Awesome, Melissa! We’d love to see it.


    I am the one that blogged about this. Fred, to answer your questions, if you were a woman, you would know how you accidentally knock the tampon out of it’s applicator. When you take it out of the packaging, you have to push it out of the wrapper. I accidentally pushed too hard and the tip of the tampon came through the applicator. That’s when I noticed the mold. I’m sure other women can vouch for this happening to them in the past, too. It doesn’t happen most of the time, but I’m sure glad it did THIS time.

      I DID, in fact, check the rest of the tampons. I took a picture for proof. They were all fine, no mold. I did report it to the manufacturer which is where a lot of the backlash is coming from. They seem to be less concerned about my moldy tampon discovery than the rest of us, who USE their products, seem to be. It’s not okay! To say ‘it’s normal, it happens, here, have some coupons’ feels very dismissive to me. 

    • Rachel Kamerer

      I am so glad you replied to him. I completely agree with you. I rarely ever used tampons, only for swimming, but I definitely won’t use one now for fear of it being moldy. yuck. Thank you for blogging this and I am disgusted by the manufacturer’s response. 

    • Thank you for sharing this experience, Danielle. It’s upsetting that
      people are automatically trying to downplay the seriousness of it.

      Blessings from the Lunagals

    • Alexis Vorpahl

      Holy crap!!! I cannot believe that they would say it is normal! it is not normal mold can make some people quite ill! Like myself- allergic to mold- can you imagine what would have happened if someone with an allergy put that in their body?!?!? SHIVERS disgusting- and such a thing would put the vagina out of whack! 

      • mblackwell

        omg me too i was thinking the same thing i would probably be hospitalized had i put that inside me 1 more reason i dont use them

    • TK

      THANK YOU GIRL!!!!!! This happened to me once long long time ago. right bout the same time I found out that Im allergic to disposable products! I wuz jus a young thing but got the same damed answer you got too.! Wuz dismissed jus as quickly as they responded. NOTHING about that is “NORAML”. I bout threw up when i saw the pic and wuz infuriated when i read on. This and many other reasons as to why, I LOVE LUNA!!!!!!!!!!!! Safe! In many many wayz.! One word! SAFE!

    • brit

      but why use these they are soaked in chlorine anyways which is harmful to your reproductive organs and you could end up with dysplasia on your cervix your cervix absorbs everything you put inside you. Common sense to use organic tampon’s which the cotton is pure-no chemicals.

  • Lora

    Yep. It really happened to her and its not a LunaPads invention. Not an urban legend. Disturbing, to say the least. :shudder 

  • Ugh!!  I was horrified when I first read this on Parr For the Course!  This is crazy!!  I switched from tampons to the Diva Cup and now also use LunaPads because after 3.5 years of trying to conceive – I was worried about my fertility.  Looks like I was worried for GOOD reason!!  UGH!!  Makes me so mad!!  What makes me even angrier is the total apathy by the company!!  And Yes, I hate to admit it, but I was one of those girls who was SURE I would cloth diaper, but still said “Eww” to cloth pads.  So glad I finally saw the light!!  

  • Jljordan97

    Fred, do you even have a vagina? Or do you just read blog posts about tampons for kicks?

    • 1899quizzle

      ^^^Good Point!! haha

  • Danielle, I commented on your blog but also just wanted to say here. THANK YOU!  Not only for blogging about your experience but also posting about it.  I hope you don’t let any negativity you receive from this bring you down.  As I mentioned in my comment here, my husband and I have been battling infertility for 3.5 years and are now spending a good fortune on IVF.  Not at all saying it was caused by mouldy tampons… but I do think it’s important for women especially to take their health in their own hands and really look at the things we are putting in and on our bodies… and we DO deserve a better response than “Don’t worry doll… save 50cents on your next box.”

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    Let me first say that yes, the picture does look bad, and it was the picture that caused me to click on the link to read the article. However, there are too many errors in this article. First of all, women go in for pap smears every day, the forceps that they use are not at all sterile, don’t believe me, ask. I did, and my doctor said that fingers and penises are inserted into the vagina regularly, they are not sterile either. It is not a very “clean” environment to begin with. So, that being said, tampons do NOT have to be sterile, they are collecting fluids, that are not clean and sanitary either. I also know that mold can grow even in a sealed package. I am not saying it was done at this person’s house, but maybe in transit. Mold does not just appear. I am sorry that this person had to deal with this unpleasent ordeal, but maybe if you try to push your agenda on others, you should get some REAL facts, and not just make assumptions.

    • Guest

       Hmmm sounds like you are a bit misinformed about this area of a woman’s anatomy Anymouse.  This can and should be a clean environment. Women get infections when the objects you stated in your response are not clean. Which is why they SHOULD be.  The blood collected during a cycle actually IS sterile.  Maybe you ought to get some REAL facts and not just make assumptions 🙂

    • Mandy

      Ok so you feel free to eat moldy grapes and moldy bread and moldy juice, since the mouth is a “dirty” place as well.  Idiot.

    • canaduck

      Your doctor told you that the equipment s/he uses inside one patient after another isn’t sterile?!?  Time to find a doctor that doesn’t operate out of the back room of a gas station, buddy.

    • Guest

      It is you who is making assumptions about what you KNOW.  Maybe you should get your facts straight before you post things that you really have NO idea about. 

  • Angelbaby91179

    This is what causes TOXIC SHOCK im sure of it!!!! 🙁

    • AZmedstudent

      Sorry, but it’s not true. Toxic shock is caused by a toxin produced by the bacteria Staph Aureus. 

  • Danielle and the Lunagals, this is such a disturbing story! Can I share it on my blog in French to get more women warned about this? (and use Danielle’s pictures with credit of course and links to both articles?)

  • Chimlyss

    LOVE my Diva cup. I know where it’s been and how clean it is. And I’m not throwing any more of my hard earned money away than I need to.

  • I recently started using the Instead Soft Cups, to get the general feel of what using a DivaCup would be like and after seeing videos of how much more flexible and seemingly comfortable the DivaCups (and other menstrual cups seem) I really want to invest in one! I wish more women would open their minds to other methods instead of tampons, with stories like this I don’t want to take the risk!

    • Nellie

      Just think about how many moldy tampons we all could have used! Thank You Diva cup.. Just ordered my first one!

  • makes me happy I don’t get a period lol. Thank you Mirena

  • Sarah

    thats so disgusting, and I recently bought some for my super heavy periods so I can do stuff instead of the normal, sit down/when i get up have to go to the bathroom cause of the blood and stuff. I don’t know if i can use tampons anymore… So disgusting. 

  • Wow. Glad I chose to stop using tampons years ago. When I did, my period became less severe and shortened by about 2 days. 

  • Curious

    This is so creepy. I can’t believe this isn’t on the evening news. I am so happy that the owner of this moldy tampon was lucky to see this before she used it. I can’t imagine this company not taking more action. I have never used tampons before and this has just solidified in my mind that I will not. It makes me just wonder what is inside those pads, unlike the tampon they are much thicker and covered with plastic and crap. Its not like you can rip it apart and still use it. All I’m saying is people beware. At least with re-usables you can make sure that they are washed clean. 

  • Alessandra Ferrera

    May I cut and paste in my fb page? And may I translate it into Italian? I think that everyone should know about it!!

    • Lisa

       yes, please do! and thanks so much for sharing.

  • Daddys_babygirl_2009

    this concerns me, usually woman dont look at the tampon, the just insert it, expecting everything to be okay considering it came out of a wrapper.  very scary i must say

  • Jan

    I live in Hurst, Texas, which is close to Saginaw! Very sad, Danielle, that you had to go through this. Excited that you spoke up and shared about it!

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  • Lola Francis

    Rayon is a great host for bacteria! While outside of your body or inside. Using a 100% organic cotton tampon is the way to go to get around the possibility of a ‘moldy’ tampon scenario, or worse, bacterial infection in the vagina due to overuse of a tampon made from rayon, or fibers left behind after the tampon is removed. Rayon has shorter fibers than cotton, so in a blend of the two materials the rayon can shed. This website has a lot of good information on tampons and the importance of using an all cotton tampon – it is sad that tampons are not regulated in the USA as they are in Europe. In Europe, tampons are required to be 100% cotton, they cannot contain rayon, which is believed to be the source, or harboring material of dangerous bacteria, because it is synthetic. It is a shame there is not more education around ‘what tampons are actually made of’ – the average consumer assumes that tampons are all-cotton due to the fact they are white. Instead, conventional tampons go through a bleaching process, yes – with ‘bleach’ – which makes them white, also leaving behind trace amounts of dioxin. So now not only are we adding rayon to help harbor bacteria, but putting a dangerous chemical known to cause cancer in our most sensitive tissue area!  A 100% organic cotton tampon is definitely the safest, cleanest way to go!

    • Nellie

      Thanks for this!

  • canaduck

    I’ve been using the Divacup for 5+ years and am always recommending it to my friends.  When I read this totally disgusting story it gave me an opportunity to tell even more people about how great the Divacup is.

  • Gia

    That’s why you should always use ” ORGANIC ” tampons. 
    no chlorine and pesticides  seeping into your blood and tissue.

  • Mozartswannabe89

    I cloth diaper my newborn and started wondering about reusable feminine products because if it’s good enough for my baby it should be good enough for me. This is one of the most disturbing things I’ve ever read because when using tampons you don’t inspect them first, you just use them! On the rare occasion that you have to fix the tampon before inserting it you don’t expect to find mold! The reaction of the manufacturer is probably what’s most disturbing because I’m now sick to my stomach. Of the thousands of tampons I have probably used how high are the odds of having used a moldy tampon if this is NORMAL?!  I am NEVER using tampons again of any brand.

  • Sammy

    Living a green lifestyle is a process of change and adaptation. Green products are also a process of trial and error to see which you prefer best. I switched to Luna Pads a few years back because of the comfort and environmental impact. But as my life became increasingly busy Tampons became my new best friend.

    I still continued to try and keep many other green products in my home. And kept with the philosophy that you need to be environmentally cautious while still using what works best for you. I’ve always been meaning to switch to a Diva Cup but the fear of having it fail, trumped what I thought was environmentally right.

    Though it was THIS moldy tampon story that sent me straight to my health food store. Enough was enough. This story finally puts tampon health scares in your face visually, front and centre.

    I bought and tried the Diva Cup!
    It’s an adjustment like any other green product, but I’ve been using it more and more. Saving myself loads of money and not having to worry about the particles and chemicals being left behind in my body is worth any small adjustment period! 

  • DN15

    Hi.  So I began using the diva cup and lunapads about 9 months ago.  I wish I had trusted in the diva cup sooner!  It’s amazing….unfortunately I have a platelet disorder and can have heavy periods from time to time.  The diva cup just isn’t enough then, and I leak.  Then, I am forced to go back to tampons (which I don’t like, I was told that their is bleach in tampons and other chemicals which can cause me to bleed more).  My other issue is that the lunapads do not hold up to any flow that I have, w/ the diva cup or w/o.  As well, the lunapads are one size fits all, and they’re a little too large for my undies, resulting in them moving around, giving me wedgies, and all in all not doing what they’re intended to do.  Can I get any advice?

    • Hi there,
      Which Lunapads did you order? They come in all different sizes so you might just need to try a different one. There isn’t really any standard width for underwear gussets, so it’s hard to design pads that will fit every brand of underwear. Fortunately, that means you might be able to find some underwear with a slightly wider gusset that will fit your Lunapads better.
      Also, have you tried adding extra Inserts to your pad to boost the absorbency?

  • FlSam

    Use obs.  You have to unwrap each one completely before you can use it.  Each one wrapped tightly in clear plastic so you can see them. 

  • Msharon2920

    Thanks for posting this!  I had no idea that it could ever happen. 

  • Justice

    Stand up for what is right.  Kimberly-Clark’s head of digital/CRM/etc. is a home wrecker to families with young children.  Don’t support him by making his campaigns a success.

  • Kortenja

    Growing up I couldn’t stand the feeling of pads and went straight to tampons since I was a swimmer. I used tampons my whole life and just hated the feeling, even the organic ones.  My first period after having my kids was horrible and my body seemed to be rejecting the tampon. I bought a DivaCup in hopes that it would help.  The first night I started my period I didn’t want to fumble around in the dark to place it. Boy was that a mistake.  The tampon was nasty and leaked. The next morning I washing up my DiveCup and never looked back. I coach swimming in a pool for 3 hour at a time and never had to worry if I needed to change my cup. I know exactly how heavy me period is and I feel fresh the whole time.  I wish I would have  found this product years ago when suffering from heavy periods.