Some facts you may not know about tampons: The first commercial tampon was produced in 1933; approximately $1.53 billion is spent on tampons per year in the United States; the average woman uses approximately 11,400 tampons in her lifetime.
That’s a lot of tampons! Many people use these items religiously, yet are not aware of some of their darker history. In 1975, the Procter & Gamble Company created a tampon called Rely which was on the market for approximately five years. Many menstruating people were being diagnosed with Toxic Shock Syndrome, and soon doctors were able to make the association between Rely tampon use and this disease. The ever-absorbent tampon encouraged bacteria to develop and dried out the vaginal area, increasing the risk for ulcerations and infection.
The Center for Disease Control began to investigate these claims and performed controlled experiments, which evidenced the association between Rely tampons and the development of Toxic Shock Syndrome.
Procter & Gamble rejected any of these claims and even went as far as conducting their own study, which had inconclusive evidence about the association. They eventually pulled their product from the shelves due to backlash.
A notable lawsuit was filed by a University of Denver student named Deletha Dawn Lampshire against the Procter & Gamble company after she had developed Toxic Shock Syndrome from using their product. She was not awarded any money to cover her medical expenses.
Carolyn Maloney, a congressional representative, first proposed the Tampon Safety and Research Act of 1997, which encouraged research of feminine hygiene products. Her bill also encouraged the FDA to broaden monitoring efforts and disclose a list of contaminants used in the creation of these products. In 1999, she introduced the Robin Danielson Act, which encouraged a thorough analysis on the development of Toxic Shock Syndrome, and she argued that this was necessary because the current statistics were unknown. Subsequent versions of these bills were introduced in later years.