fibre loss in tampons is an issue of concern
Natracare championed the issue of fibre loss back in the 1990’s as a result of concerns raised by both users of tampons and nurses. Common brands of tampons made from mostly rayon with a small percentage of cotton or made from 100% rayon were the worst offenders for fibre loss. Nurses conducting smear tests advised that they first needed to remove shed tampon fibres from around the cervix before being able to obtain a clear smear sample and were, as a result, able to determine which women were tampon users.
Manufacturers who at first denied the fibre loss issue, quickly moved to place a synthetic overwrap material around their tampons to prevent the inner absorbent core of fibres falling away during use and withdrawal. The choice of material, a plastic called polypropylene, is heated to slightly melt the overwrap in order to form a seal over the inner core of rayon fibres. This did reduce some of the fibre loss, but did not eradicate it.
Natracare does not have an issue with fibre loss as our tampons are made from 100% organic cotton, a wavy-construction fibre that easily interlocks itself, unlike rayon which, like straight hair, does not entangle itself together. Because of this, rayon fibres easily slide apart from each other, shedding into the vagina during use and when the tampon is withdrawn. Apart from the hygiene issues of fibres remaining in the vagina, there are also implications for bacterial colonisation which can contribute to vaginal infections.
Because Natracare only uses certified organic cotton to make our tampons, in the construction of the applicator style tampons, we need to sew the withdrawal cord to the tampon. In order for us to do this, we use an overwrap made from 100% certified organic cotton.
Conventional tampons use polypropylene as an overwrap, which can be heated to melt the overwrap to the tampon core. This is because the polypropylene is a plastic nonwoven material which melts like regular plastic does. Not good for the environment because it is made from crude oil and it does not biodegrade.