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Tampons vs. Pads vs Period Pants: Which is safest

You may have seen recent news articles regarding concerning levels of lead and arsenic being found in 14 leading brands of tampons. This is hugely concerning given that this year will see 18 BILLION tampons sold worldwide.

The article states that this is concerning because the walls of the vagina are thin and therefore more likely to be absorbent of these heavy metals, although this has yet to be proven.

"Although toxic metals are ubiquitous and we are exposed to low levels at any given time, our study clearly shows that metals are also present in menstrual products, and that women might be at higher risk for exposure using these products," says isotope geochemist Kathrin Schilling, also from Columbia University in the United States.

So are tampons safe? Are they better or safer than pads, or period pants which also had a recent safety scare? In this article, we'll take a look at these questions, comparing the safety, comfort, and various considerations of both tampons, pads and period pants, helping you make an informed decision based on your body, lifestyle, and health.

Are Tampons Safe?

When used correctly, tampons are generally safe. However, wearing a tampon does come with some risks, such as Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS), a rare but serious bacterial infection. To minimize risks, it's important to wash your hands before use and choose the right absorbency, regular or super. In addition, change tampons every 4-8 hours, and use tampons only during menstruation.

Leaving a tampon in for an extended period of time is also not recommended. Avoid using tampons made for heavy flow so that you can have extended wear time.

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Are Tampons Safer Than Pads or Period Pants?

No, tampons are not safer than sanitary pads or period pants, because they have a higher risk of Toxic Shock Syndrome. However, both products are considered safe for everyday use when used as directed.

What Are the Safest Tampons to Wear?

The safest tampons to wear are those made from organic cotton and free from chemicals, fragrances, and dyes. Avoid tampons made from wood pulp, look for 100% organic cotton instead.

Organic tampons reduce exposure to pesticides and dioxins that non-organic cotton may contain. Brands like Natracare, Dame, and Here we Flo offer organic cotton tampons.

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Are Tampons Better Than Pads?

Whether tampons are better than pads depends on your lifestyle, comfort preferences, and menstrual flow. Tampons offer freedom to be active, swim, and wear a variety of clothes without feeling the bulkiness of sanitary napkins.

However, period underwear and period swimwear also allow you to get on with your life, pose no risk of TSS and can be worn for extended periods (though it’s still important to change them regularly). Period underwear is also more eco friendly than tampons.

What Should Tampons Not Have?

Tampons should not have:

  • Bleach or dioxin: Used in the bleaching process, can leave trace elements.
  • Synthetic fibers: Can cause irritation or allergic reactions.
  • Fragrances and deodorants: Unnecessary and can disrupt the vaginal pH balance.
  • Heavy Metals: Including Lead and Arsenic


Are Tampons Riskier Than Pads?

In terms of health risks, tampons can be considered riskier than pads due to the potential for TSS. However, the risk is still very low, especially with proper tampon use—changing them regularly and choosing the correct absorbency for your flow.

Disposable Pads, while safer in the context of TSS, can cause irritation or rashes if not changed frequently or if you have sensitive skin. Reusable pads however are less likely to cause irritation and are a good alternative.

Period Pants are the modern solution for periods, offering low risk of TSS, but comfort and ease of use.


Choosing between tampons, pads and period pants is a completely personal decision. All options are generally safe when used correctly and with attention to your body’s responses.




We hope you've found this helpful, but if you'd like to make the switch to reusable pads or period pants, please do contact us. Our team all use the products themselves and love to chat pee, poo and periods all day long! We've also got some further reading that you may be interested in: 

About the Author: Helen Rankin founded Cheeky Wipes, the original reusable wipes kit back in 2008 after disposable wipes caused her eczema to flare up. 4 kids later, she went on to develop their range of 'Simple Reusables' to include period pants, reusable period kits and reusable incontinence pants. Both she and the rest of the leadership team are now navigating menopause, with all the joys it brings!