Kimberly-Clark, the makers of Kotex brand tampons, has issued a voluntary recall on a particular type of its tampons sold in the U.S. and Canada. According to a press release issued by the company, U by Kotex Sleek Tampons, Regular Absorbency, have a “quality-related defect.” Specifically, the tampons are falling apart inside people.
Wait, did they just say that fall apart “inside” people? Yes, they did.
“Vaginal tissue is lined with permeable mucous membranes, which protect the body from bacteria, but which can also easily absorb or be irritated by other chemicals,” explains Alex Scranton, director of Science and Research at Women’s Voices For The Earth, a group that advocates more research into menstrual products’ safety, on the group’s blog. These vaginal membranes are filled with blood vessels, which allow any chemical they are exposed to to be easily absorbed into your bloodstream.
The company says it has received consumer reports of the tampons unraveling or coming apart when they’re removed, and in some situations people have needed to seek medical attention to have tampon pieces that were left in their body removed. The company has also received reports of women developing infections, vαginal irritation, localized vαginal injury, and other symptoms after using the tampons.
The affected products are all U by Kotex Sleek Tampons, Regular Absorbency, manufactured between Oct. 7, 2016 and Oct. 16, 2018, and distributed across the United States and Canada between Oct. 17, 2016 and Oct. 23, 2018. The company said a website for customers to search the lot numbers on the bottom of their packages to check if their tampons are included in this recall.
If you have the recalled tampons, stop using the product immediately and contact Kimberly-Clark’s Consumer Service team at 1-888-255-3499 for information. There is no need to return the product to a store, the company said. Stores have been urged to remove the affected lots from their shelves and to post a notice in their stores.
This isn’t the first time Kotex has issued a recall of its products. In 2012, the company recalled its Natural Balance Security tampons after bacteria was found in its applicator.
“I’ve seen recalls for bacterial contamination of the applicator and tampon, but not this kind of recall,” Jennifer Wider, MD, tells Yahoo Lifestyle. This recall is actually a pretty big deal, she says. “The tampon is designed to stay lodged and absorb blood, so there’s a good chance that it will remain in the body until it’s removed,” Wider says. “Pieces left behind can cause irritation, inflammation, swelling and infection. Women can also injure themselves trying to get it out. It’s not a good situation.”
If you happen to use a tampon and suspect that pieces are still inside you after you remove it, you can try to inspect your vαgina to see if you can feel anything, Christine Greves, MD, a board-certified ob-gyn at the Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women and Babies, tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “Sit down and try to place your finger inside to see if you can feel anything,” she says. “Sometimes that’s hard to do, though….