Currently, our MPs are struggling to say the word ‘tampon’ and the world (or at least the vagina-having half) are wondering why the fuck we’re having to pay tampon tax for something to mop up the blood that comes out of us (on average) 3,000 days of our lives.
Like it or not (OK or not because, forreal, who would like it?) tampons and tampon use are a big part of our lives for the forseeable. At least until we reach menopause which apparently isn’t all that fun to look forward to, either.
In homage, we round up eight things you never knew about those blood suckers.
1. Millions Of Girls Miss School Because They Don’t Have Tampons
Fifty per cent (!) of schoolgirls in Africa are said to leave school when they start their periods. In 2010, the World Health Organisation reported that this is due to the lack of school toilets with privacy and facilities for menstrual hygiene (read: periods). Many women and girls around the world are forced to use natural materials such as ashes, sand, mud, leaves, dung and animal skin, which can potentially facilitate infectious diseases.
But it’s not just in less-developed countries that lack of resources for periods are an issue. A public high school in Queens, New York is currently attempting to combat the problem with a free dispenser installed in the bathroom of a school in an attempt to alleviate the problem for low-income students.
2. People Are Super Squeamish About Free Bleeding
Despite the fact that we bleed for 3,000 days of our lives, people are still super squeamish about the whole thing. Men and women. Case in point the reaction to M.I.A’s drummer Kiran Gandhi who ran the London Marathon without a tampon last summer.
‘I ran with blood dripping down my legs for sisters who don’t have access to tampons and sisters who, despite cramping and pain, hide it away and pretend like it doesn’t exist,’ she said.
3. You Can Share A Tampon With Your Bestie
I’m not sure why you would ever want to do this, but there is a tampon you can share with your BFF. You know, just in case you want to. And yes, they are connected by a string. I’m not joking.
Friends Forever Tampons creator Kat Thek says the product is guaranteed to ‘bring you extremely close to your best friend for up to eight hours at a time.’ And pause.
4. There’s A Tampon Video Game
Because… well, why not, really? Created by two teenage girls, in the game, the hero – a young woman – fires tampons at her enemies instead of bullets. Tampon Run, which recently released a mobile version, was created to try lift the taboo around periods.
5. The Chemicals In Some Tampons Aren’t Great For You
Many of the most famous tampon brands have trace amounts of dioxin – a highly toxic compound. Particularly bad as tampons obviously go inside your vagina, which is one of the most absorbent areas of the body.
So what happens if a tampon is left in too long? In short, you can get toxic shock syndrome (TSS) and die. A model recently lost her leg to TSS after being admitted to a hospital reportedly just 10 minutes from death.
‘They’ve had materials available for 20 years that could make [tampons] safer, and they’ve chosen not to use them,’ said the model’s lawer, Hunter J Shkolnik.
6. Tampon Applicators Are Bad For The Environment
It’s thought that 7 billion tampons are disposed of annually in the US alone. Considering plastic tampon applicators don’t biodegrade and cardboard applicators take up to six months, they’re pretty shitty for the environment, too.
7. Tampons Are Considered A Luxury Item
The world’s been in a bit of uproar recently trying to scrap the tax on tampons. After all, it’s not really fair to have to pay tax on something we have no control over and is actually pivotal for the continuation of the human race, is it?
Canada made the first move to stop taxing feminine hygiene products in July this year. Previously, they made around £19,000 a year from tax on feminine hygiene products.
Despite a huge change.org petition and a phenomenal outcry on social media, UK politicians recently voted against removing the tax on tampons. We’re really not sure why things like jaffa cakes and edible cake decorations are deemed ‘essential’ under UK law – but do you know what’s even worse than that logic? Your handy box of Tampax has been dubbed a ‘luxury’ item.
Because you know, inserting a tampon into your vagina when you’re feeling bloated, spotty and teary is obviously one of life’s little pleasures.
8. Doctors May Soon Be Able To Detect Ovarian Cancer Through Your Tampon
Scientists recently tried to figure out if analysing DNA samples collected from tampons could detect tumour cells in women’s vaginas. While the results were not entirely conclusive – only 60% of patients with ovarian cancer came up as positive – it’s suggested that with further development this approach may help the early detection of ovarian cancer.
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This article originally appeared on The Debrief.