Doctor warns against using crocheted reusable tampons

Doctors advise against using crocheted reusable tampons on sale across the internet (Picture:

At a time when lots of us are pondering how to make every part of our lives more environmentally conscious, it’s not surprising that there’s been a rise in interest in reusable menstrual products.

Throw in our worries about vaginal health and our need to save money, and it makes sense that more sustainable options are arriving on the market.

Among the menstrual cups and reusable pads, there’s another item posed as the answer to all your tampon woes.

Earlier today, a quick search on Etsy revealed hundreds of ‘reusable tampons’ – handmade knitted or crochet tampons designed to be worn, washed, and reused.

But doctors strongly advise against using such products, warning of risks of infection, irritation, and toxic shock syndrome.

One Etsy store, EcoFriendlyGift4You, sold a set of three ‘eco friendly reusable crocheted tampons’ in a large, medium, and small, for the price of £4.41.

The store’s owner, Elena, claims that her items pose the benefits of being a cheaper and more environmentally alternative to traditional sanitary products.

The product description reads: ‘Benefits of these tampons – they are reusable and contribute less waste to the environment.

One of the tampons currently for sale (Picture: VLapsaCrafts)

‘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.’

On the product’s listing Elena says her tampons are made of 100% cotton, and advises boiling or soaking them in ‘a special solution’ of vinegar and water between use.

When asked about the safety of her products, Elena tells ‘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.’

The reality, however, is that products such as Elena’s, and all the other crocheted tampons sold on Etsy and other sites, have no regulation or certification to promise safety.

Some of the tampons available for purchase on Etsy (Picture: Etsy)

Individual sellers are free to sell untested, unregulated products at appealingly low prices, and can pop false claims – such as Elena’s suggestion that her tampons ‘reduce infections’ – into the descriptions that appeal to people’s insecurities and concerns about their vaginas.

Dr. Leila Frodsham, Consultant Gynaecologist and Spokesperson for the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, tells ‘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.’

Noted vagina expert Dr Jennifer Gunter, meanwhile, says people should ‘beware’ of reusable tampons sold online.

‘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.’

There’s also no guarantee of reliable craftsmanship or the materials used. There’s no guarantee that cotton or wool residue won’t be left behind or that the texture of these products won’t cause abrasions.

This isn’t the first time Etsy has been criticised for allowing the sales of untested products designed for the vagina. The store also allows the sales of vagina ‘detox’ products, such as small bags of herbs designed to be placed in the vagina, despite experts stating these items could be dangerous.

Etsy’s current guidelines simple state that medical products for sale on their site cannot claim ‘a casual relationship between a substance and the prevention, healing, or treatment of a physical condition or disease’.

An Etsy spokesperson told ‘We take the safety of our marketplace very seriously. Tampons are regulated as a medical device which are prohibited in our marketplace. Our team is actively working to review and remove items that don’t comply with our policies.’

At the time of writing, Etsy appears to be removing listings of reusable tampons from the site – including EcoFriendlyGift4You’s products.

In the meantime, hundreds of ‘reusable tampons’, knitted and crocheted in a load of designs and sizes, remain available online for anyone concerned about the environmental impact of their menstruation to purchase.

We’d recommend opting for a menstrual cup or reusable pads instead.

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