Regular tampon users should be aware of the products they are currently using since a recall has been announced of U by Kotex Sleek Tampons, Regular Absorbency by Kimberly-Clark due to complaints from customers who claim that the sanitary product is "unraveling and/or coming apart upon removal, and in some cases causing users to seek medical attention to remove tampon pieces left in the body."
The company states that there have been several reports of infections, vaginal irritation, localized vaginal injury, and other symptoms. Terry Balluck, a Kimberly-Clark media relations representative told Allure, “We announced a voluntary product recall of U by Kotex Sleek Tampons, Regular Absorbency, sold throughout the U.S. and Canada, for a quality-related defect that could impact the performance of this product. The recall is limited to specific products that were distributed between October 17, 2016, and October 23, 2018."
Customers can check the affected products by checking the lot numbers that are found on the bottom of the package and checking it against the lot number checker on the U by Kotex website. "Any consumer with the impacted U by Kotex Sleek Tampons, Regular Absorbency, in their possession should stop using the product immediately and promptly contact Kimberly-Clark's Consumer Service team at 1-888-255-3499 for information regarding this recall,” Balluck adds.
Most recalled products were manufactured between October 7, 2016, and October 16, 2018, and distributed between October 17, 2016, and October 23, 2018. No other Kotex products have been affected by the recall.
Though residual tampon material sounds worrisome, according to Mary Rosser, assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Columbia University Medical Center, this is unlikely to cause a serious medical issue. "The good news is that tampons are generally safe and have been well-tolerated by women for years. There has been a decline in a rare medical condition often associated with tampon use, Toxic Shock Syndrome, since the FDA introduced regulations and manufacturers changed the way tampons are made," Rosser tells Allure.
However, symptoms that have been reported included vaginal injury such as pain, bleeding, or discomfort, vaginal irritation like itching or swelling, urogenital infections, including bladder and/or vaginal bacterial and/or yeast infections.
Rosser recommends that those who suspect that a piece of tampon may have remained in their vagina not panic. "The missing pieces will stay inside your vagina and will not get lost inside your body. You can try to retrieve the piece(s) gently with your fingers. If you are not successful or comfortable with this, simply see your healthcare provider."
Consumers affected by the recall can contact the Kimberly-Clark Consumer Service team at 1-888-255-3499 between 7:30 a.m. and 7 p.m. Central time weekdays. Problems related to the recall can be reported to health care professionals in the United States to MedWatch and in Canada to Health Canada.
Back in 1978, toxic shock syndrome was identified by Dr. James K.Todd and Dr. Philip M. Tierno Jr., Director of Clinical Microbiology and Immunology at the NYU Langone Medical Center, who believed tampons were behind toxic shock syndrome (TSS) cases. Tierno said higher-absorbency tampons introduced in 1978, as well as the use of tampons overnight, resulted in increased incidences of toxic shock syndrome. Later, however, meta-analysis found that the absorbency and chemical composition of tampons were not related to the increase of toxic shock syndrome, though oxygen and carbon dioxide content make the likelihood of toxic shock syndrome more likely.