This past Sunday the PGA TOUR did a wonderful piece called Playing with a Purpose. It featured several players who have wonderful foundations. The story focused on the Jason Dufner Foundation, the David Hearn Foundation, and our Begin Again Foundation. We are so honored that they chose to tell our story and immeasurably grateful for the awareness it has already brought to the public. But I just have to say one thing:
They’re called tampons.
In the story, they stated that I became ill from a feminine hygiene product. Yes, tampons are feminine hygiene products. But I did not get sick from a pad or a cup. I got sick from a combination of having my IUD removed and from using a tampon. It is not just part of my story. It’s my entire story. And as I said in that piece, I believe I survived so that maybe my story can save someone’s life. Look, over the past year, I have shared more personal details than I could have ever imagined. I’ve heard my husband get into discussions about periods and tampons. Again, this is not something I could have envisioned…but Marc gets it. We need to talk about this.
This past April Abigail Jones wrote an article for Newsweek titled, THE FIGHT TO END PERIOD SHAMING IS GOING MAINSTREAM. Now, this article is far too brilliant for me to even think about giving you a summary. Just go read it. The fact that they used a tampon as their cover image is the subject of an entirely different post. But here’s a thought: we are having to make a big fuss over the fact that we are simply trying to talk about a period, something that happens to half the world. We need to be able to say tampon, period, menstrual cup, and pad with the same ease that men can talk about morning stiffy’s, condoms, and lube. We need to do this for our daughters. So that if they are using a tampon and they get sick they will not be ashamed to go tell their dads that they need to go to the doctor. We need to do this for our fathers so that they are not embarrassed to talk to the women in their lives. We need to do this so I stop reading more stories of girls contracting TSS from tampons. More importantly, I want to stop reading the comments on these articles, sometimes from other women, calling these warrior women “idiots” and saying, “how did she not know better?” If we’re not even able to say the word how can we talk about the risks?
We need to be able to say the word tampon so we can talk about how 100% cotton tampons have not been linked to TSS. We need to say tampon so we can talk about how their makers are not required to list their ingredients… but we do know they are made with rayon or cotton-rayon blends. Rayon is made from bleached wood pulp (Yes, you read that right. Yes, we are sticking them up our vaginas.) Dr Philip Tierno, a professor of microbiology and pathology at NYU, has linked viscose rayon to the toxic shock syndrome toxin. We need to be comfortable with the word tampon so that we can talk about alternating the use of them with pads. Or to talk about the total alternatives of menstrual cups (although in full transparency there has been a single case of TSS from a cup), period panties and pads. We need to talk about tampons because women use an average of 12,000 in their lifetimes. We need the word tampon to be associated with Toxic Shock Syndrome. Not in an effort to scare everyone, but because women need to know that it is a risk. Not that it will happen, but that it can. THAT knowledge can save lives.
Women should not feel the need to whisper about their periods. We should not be ashamed to talk about the very process that creates life. We should not have to be quiet about something that needs to be spoken about. Loudly.
They’re called tampons.