The Shelf Life of Tampons: How Long do They Last?

Finding yourself in a pinch when your period arrives early is a situation a lot of us are way too familiar with. You have to start frantically searching your purse for a tampon while sitting on the public toilet. It never fails, this always happens in public. You find a tampon in the bottom of your purse. The wrapper looks a little rough, but you have no choice and you use it.

Later, once the panic has faded, you start to wonder if that was a good choice. Do you even know where that tampon came from? Do tampons expire? Are you about to die from a rare fungus? You start to imagine your family being told by authorities after your autopsy that you died from using a tainted and expired tampon.

Vaginal Health

Ok, calm down you are probably absolutely fine. Your vagina is sterile and acidic; it is able to kill most intruders. So if that tampon did happen to have a small number of bacteria or fungus you will probably be ok. You are the only one who knows exactly how your vagina acts on a day-to-day basis. If it seems that all is normally is most likely is.

If you start to develop any unusual symptoms like excessive discharge, colored discharge, or discomfort as always you should immediately go to see your doctor. If your vagina has developed an infection you will need a doctor to prescribe the best route for getting your microbial balance back in your vagina.

Tampon Expiration

While many tampon brands do not list an expiration date on their tampons it is a widely shared opinion that tampons expire after 5 years. Many brands only list the date of manufacturing so make sure to check it is in the correct window before purchase. The fact that cotton is so absorbent makes it an ideal home for the growth of molds, funguses, and bacterias.

Tampon Storage

The timeline for the expiration of tampons can be shorter if the tampons are not stored in a cool dry place. Many people store tampons in their bathrooms but this is actually the worst place to store these unless you are using an airtight container. Your tampons should be kept as far away from your shower as possible to keep them from being compromised by the moisture that the shower produces.  Your bathroom is most likely the most humid room in your house and thus the worst place to store your tampons.

When tampons are exposed to environments with high humidity it can cause the cotton to absorb the moisture in the air. This can allow for the growth of harmful microbes that you should avoid introducing to your vagina. You should also never use a tampon that is not in a sealed package. If the tampon has been exposed to the environment previous to you using it there is no way to know what it may have come in conduct with. You do not want to take that chance with your health.

Safe Tampons

Make sure to choose safe tampons. Only use 100 percent organic cotton tampons. If not there will be pesticide residue on the product. Also, avoid any tampon that uses chlorine to bleach the tampon to make it appear more white. This leaves chemical residue in the tampons that you do not want to insert into your body. Only use tampons that applicators are BPA-free as well. BPA has been linked to causing cancer so you definitely do not want that anywhere near your vagina.

So to answer your question “Do tampons expire?” The answer is yes they absolutely do. Make sure you are not storing your tampons in the bathroom unless you purchase an airtight container. Never use a tampon that has a broken wrapper you have no idea what is on it. Only use organic BPA-free tampons. Follow these steps and you and your vagina will be saved from the embarrassment of dying from some rare bacteria that was growing in the bottom of your purse.