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Bad GOOP Advice, tampons, Uncategorized

I fact checked Gwyneth Paltrow’s GOOPY tampon claims. They’re a hot mess.

Gwyneth Paltrow and GOOP are hiring a fact checker because they couldn’t Word Salad their way into a publishing agreement with Condé Nast.

Sigh.

It is troubling that Paltrow finds medical facts tiresome and old school (per her profile in the New York Times Magazine) and yet wants to help women find good information about health. Facts are the thing that makes one empowered to make health care decisions, although it is possible they get in the way of purchases.

Since I am the 2018 People’s Choice for GOOP fact checker I decided to do one for you all in return for giving me this prestigious award.

I am working on the menstrual hygiene chapter for my book, The Vagina Bible, so I decided to fact check the recent GOOPy claims about SHE. tampons, a product they are only having a conversation about and totally not endorsing even though they are selling it.

Selling something apparently doesn’t mean you should actually use it. Or something.

I don’t know, I don’t speak Word Salad.

Here is the advertisement as it appears on GOOP. I’m not linking to them because the idea of Paltrow running around screaming “Vagina, Vagina, Vagina” so she can “monetize those eyeballs” — which is apparently totally not the same as click bait– makes me nauseous.

I’ve underlined statements I felt needed fact checking or expanded upon for clarity.

As I tell my kids, hold onto your pantyhose because we’re going in.

GOOP screenshot

Claim #1: There is a “laundry list of harmful chemicals found in conventional tampons.”

False.

All tampon applications submitted to the FDA include a list of ingredients and the manufacturing process. New materials require safety studies. If the materials are similar to what is already approved new studies are not required only proof that the product is similar to what has already been approved.  The FDA doesn’t approve harmful chemicals in tampons. They are quite clear on this.

The FDA specifically states that tampons must be “free of 2,3,7,8- tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD)/2,3,7,8-tetrachlorofuran dioxin (TCDF) and any pesticide and herbicide residues” and that manufacturers must “describe any assurances that chemical residues are not present or, if residues are present, the level present and the method used to assess it.”

Two studies show dioxin concentrations are the same in 100% cotton and cotton/rayon tampons. According to one study, “exposures to dioxins from tampons is approximately 13,000-240,000 times less than dietary exposures.”

Bleaching is used to convert wood pulp into rayon. The two methods is use are either Elemental Chlorine-Free (ECF) or Totally Chlorine-Free (TCF) bleaching and do not release dioxin. More info from the FDA:

Screen Shot 2018-08-14 at 12.46.59 AM

Tampons also do not have asbestos. That is old-time pre-Internet fake news.

2. The FDA doesn’t require feminine care products to disclose their ingredients at all.

True, but misleading.

The components do not have to be on the package, but they are listed with the FDA.

The implication here is is the false claim that “conventional” companies are hiding something. Since they can’t have dioxin or pesticides or herbicide residue I’m not sure what harmful product GOOP thinks is hidden in tampons?

A jade egg? Just kidding.

Since manufacturers have to disclose their ingredients to the FDA and you can look them up on the FDA website I’m calling bullshit. I also e-mailed the people at Procter and Gamble who make Tampax, the “conventional” tampon brand that I used for 36 years, and asked them about their ingredients. Did they have any hidden ones?

Their reply,  “all of the components are outlined on our website.  We also use Smartlabel technology on-pack for shoppers to review the composition on their smartphones.”

They also said this,

“Every woman wants what is best for their body, and when there’s a question about ingredients and safety, we take that concern very seriously.  Our intention is to always be open and transparent with women on the safety and product composition of our feminine hygiene products by including composition, ingredients and detailed safety and usage directions on our website and on/in the package (example Tampax) .  We are also willing to answer additional questions through our 1-800 # and social channels so they may have so they can make informed choices about their period products.”

I don’t make any money from Procter and Gamble. They did not reach out to me, I contacted them.

3. The founding of SHE.

True, but misleading.

I am sure it was founded by the three women, however, the implication to me was they were making these revolutionary organic tampons in California. I envisioned West Coast witches (the good kind) making tampons on the beach under a blood moon or at least a small factory employing local women.

I mean they actually say they are “made with California love.”.

Screen Shot 2018-08-14 at 1.46.25 AM.png

Who was actually making the SHE. tampons with California love?

I looked up their FDA application and SHE. tampons are made by the company Tosama who have production facilities in Vir pri Domžalah, Slovenia.

How do they get the California Love to Slovenia, I wondered?

Here is SHE.’s registration with the FDA.

Screen Shot 2018-08-13 at 10.15.15 PM

When you click the link this is what you get:

Tosama

It seems as if Tosama took care of the 501(k) with the FDA and then provided SHE. with a privately labelled product. There is nothing wrong with this and nothing wrong with Tosama’s products. I think I used them last year when I was in Europe and they were great! However, this doesn’t excatly scream “California Love” to me.

I could order tampons from Tosama (although probably not now after this post) and sell them as gynecologist-approved and tested, which would be 100% true because I would have approved them and put one or two in my vagina as a test. Not at the same time though. I did that once. On purpose. Don’t do it. Just. Don’t.

Screen Shot 2018-08-13 at 11.53.31 PM

The equivalent Tosama box of tampons to SHE. retails on their website for $3.95. They are sold on GOOP for $7.99.

Adding California Love is expensive.

4. Made with 100% organic cotton

True.

That us what it says on the 501(k).

5. Most conventional tampons are laced with glyphosate.

False.

There is no published,. peer-reviewed data. I’ve written on this myth before.

The same advertisement that insinuates “conventional” tampon manufacturers are lying about ingredients is actually being untruthful about the presence of glyphosate in “conventional” tampons?

Mmmmmk.

6. Glyphosate is a known carcinogen

False.

The American Cancer Society has a list of known carcinogens (the “known” is part of the terminology). That list does not include glyphosate. Glyphosate is on the probably carcinogenic list, although a lot of data has questioned that conclusion. Regardless, no one has shown glyphosate is in tampons so it doesn’t really matter.

7. SHE. tampons are free of fragrance, pesticides, insecticides, rayon, synthetics, and GMOs.

True, but misleading.

All unscented tampons are fragrance free. Fragrance has to be listed on the 501(k) applications to the FDA. No one is hidding fragrance in tampons.

There are no harmful residues in tampons because A) we have studies showing there is no dioxin and B) the FDA requires manufacturers to prove they have no harmful residues. Tosama proved to the FDA that the tampons they are selling as SHE. are pesticide and herbicide free with the same paperwork as every other tampon manufacturer.

As for rayon, well, the most recent study looking at TSS actually showed a lower chance of the potentially deadly toxn production with rayon-cotton blends than all cotton so personally I wouldn’t be bragging about the lack of rayon.

I am not sure what synthetics GOOP thinks are in conventional tampons that are made of cotton or cotton and rayon? And GMOS? I just can’t even with that. What do they think GMO cotton would do to the vagina? Prevent your Stepford transition?

Regardless, nothing on the Tosama website says their tampons are free of GMOS. I checked. Hey. I’m not taking the word of the GOOPsters.

If I rewrote the advertisement for GOOP it would go something like this…

Women are frightened by false reports and conspiracy theories about hidden toxins in tampons, even though these have been disproven. The FDA requires that tampons be free of herbicides and pesticides and all manufacturers prove that to the FDA with the same paperwork. No published peer-reviewed study shows there is more glyphosate in so called conventional tampons versus those that are 100% organic cotton.

The FDA doesn’t require feminine care products to disclose their ingredients on the packaging, but you can get that information from the FDA. Some manufacturers list their ingredients, but you can also  e-mail your preferred hygiene product manufacturer and ask them just as our unpaid fact-checking Intern, Dr. Gunter MD, FRCS(C), FACOG, DAMPM, ABPMR (pain), did with the e-mail address she easily found on on campany’s website.

We at GOOP are selling SHE. tampons, which are 100% organic cotton. The company was founded by three Los Angeles sisters and the tampons are made by Tosama who packages them in Slovenia for SHE. making sure to include California Love. Whether 100% cotton tampons are better for you than a cotton-rayon blend is not known, the data has been conflicting, although the latest study on toxic shock syndrome refutes previous claims that 100% cotton tampons are the safest.

SHE. tampons are fragrance-free like all fragrance-free tampons. Like all tampons SHE. is free of pesticides and herbicides. Insecticides are a type of pesticide so we don’t need to single that out because we already told you that SHE. tampons are pesticide free.

SHE. tampons are free of synthetics, but the applicator that is inserted and rubs up against your vaginal mucosa is synthetic because it is made of plastic.

I’m totally not going to get that fact checking job at GOOP am I?

Discussion

29 thoughts on “I fact checked Gwyneth Paltrow’s GOOPY tampon claims. They’re a hot mess.

  1. You won’t get THIS fact-checking job, but your odds of getting hired st Condé Nast just increased tenfold…

    Posted by Amy | August 14, 2018, 4:16 am
  2. thanks for myth busting

    Posted by Cathy Miller | August 14, 2018, 5:29 am
  3. I’ve totally fallen for the hype and shelled out $10+ for “organic” tampons. 🤦🏻‍♀️ Good to know that my regular tampons won’t kill me.

    Posted by nychristy1 | August 14, 2018, 5:49 am
  4. I’m baffled that no one has sued Goop yet for misleading or flat out false information. There must be some pseudo-holistic lawyer out there who can tackle it

    Posted by Nina | August 14, 2018, 5:58 am
  5. I always enjoy reading your essays. They always always make me laugh several times. Even though I do not personally use feminine products or ever associate with Gwyneth or GOOP (but have known people who do,) I do believe in facts and am gratified when educated and knowledgable humans make pudding out of marketing speak and word salad. Please keep up the good work!

    Posted by Karl Shellenberger | August 14, 2018, 6:11 am
  6. wait! one thing caught my eye… we cannot put 2x tampons at once in? sometimes i do this when on an especially heavy flow and no super+ available. oh dear…

    Posted by Ellie Bailey | August 14, 2018, 6:53 am
  7. I want to read your Vagina Bible! Thank you for the kick ass evidence/fact checking/writing with attitude and life that you do. You make the world a better place!

    Posted by koharjones | August 14, 2018, 6:53 am
  8. Dr. G – you could have pointed out that FDA approves new devices under the 510k rules if the new device is shown to be similar to a device already approved and on the market. Tosama 100% Cotton Tampons (K150897) were approved in 2015 based on the predicate device Cottons 100% Natural Tampons (K080733). Cottons (K080733) had been approved in 2009 based on the predicate device Tampax (K061486). So – they are basically all the same …. so when Goop offers you a job … sign me up as a research assistant emeritus.

    Posted by C. Haley, MD | August 14, 2018, 10:29 am
  9. While I really enjoy reading these articles and I cannot wait for the vagina bible, I also feel like by doing this, you are doing GOOPs work for them. You are giving them a platform to say “hey, it’s not our fault someone got hurt – the info is right there!” It’s absolutely disgusting that people are being hoodwinked in this way.

    Posted by zakeeyak | August 14, 2018, 10:45 am
  10. Dr. Gunter, I have learned so much from your freely provided expertise, and I hope you won’t think this is a threadjack–I am posting this here because I thought your no-BS perspective might be helpful, and I couldn’t find an email to contact you directly.

    I’m pregnant with my first and I’m concerned about autonomy as an OB/GYN patient. I like and trust my doctor, but I know realistically your own doctor doesn’t always attend your birth, and mine works with med students which is another concern. I’ll just be blunt: is “medical rape” a thing? How can patients best protect themselves if it is?

    https://broadly.vice.com/en_us/article/evqew7/obstetric-violence-doulas-abuse-giving-birth

    Based on everything I have read from you I trust you to be honest if this is a cause for real concern, or just more anti-“medical establishment” nonsense.

    Posted by Kate | August 14, 2018, 1:46 pm
  11. Reblogged this on shoegirl01.

    Posted by shoegirl01 | August 14, 2018, 1:55 pm
  12. Thank you for this. I can’t believe the lies some people believe about tampons. A former friend of mine was horrified when she found out I used tampons instead of a menstrual cup; she claimed tampons were full of chemicals to keep our menstrual blood bright red because darker, brownish blood was less aesthetically pleasing. GOOP should hire her. She’d fit right in.

    Posted by Spoken Like A True Nut | August 14, 2018, 1:59 pm
  13. I love you DR Jen and so does my 14 year old ! She shares your essays with her classmates some of whom read goop. Hurray for education!

    Posted by Juliea | August 15, 2018, 6:43 am
  14. Fellow OB/Gyn here, and huge fan. Just wanted to add on a personal level that one of the most infuriating things I find about this whole new generation of organic cotton tampons is that they all have plastic applicators. Thus proving the point that the users actually care nothing about the environment.

    Posted by Libby | August 15, 2018, 4:05 pm
  15. Reading the info page from Tosama included above, I was amazed to learn (at the end of the first line of text) that “We produce digital” tampons! Technology is truly amazing. … But then I read on and saw that, in this case, “digital” isn’t contrasted with “analog” but with “applicator”. Bummer.

    Seriously, though, you write that SHE. tampons have (plastic!) applicators, and in the comment immediately above, Libby says that this is the case of “this whole new generation of organic cotton tampons”. Since Tosama says that they make both kinds, is there any hope that, at least, GOOP could be pressured to buy the digital variety from Tosama? (Or are the old-fashioned cardboard applicator tubes laden with dioxin etc. etc.? Seems doubtful.)

    Posted by Lee Rudolph | August 16, 2018, 4:50 pm
  16. Considering all the myths that are in the Bible, calling it the Vagina Bible is hopefully underselling it. The only thing that Bible has to say about menstruation is that it makes you impure and you can’t have sex while the blood flows.

    Posted by andersstarmark | August 17, 2018, 2:37 am
  17. Is it still considered false that glyphosate is considered carcinogenic (or a carcinogen)?

    Posted by Miss Behave | August 20, 2018, 5:18 am
  18. There’s a blind item that is thought to be about GP. She’s trying to figure out how to become an EGOT. https://blindgossip.com/she-is-audrey-hepburn/#more-93367

    Posted by blargh | August 30, 2018, 3:46 pm
  19. I hope reincarnation is real so I can be reborn and grow up to be like you! You rock science lady!

    Posted by Catherine | September 28, 2018, 10:35 am
  20. I think organic rules require the planrs to be non-GM, so organic cotton = GMO free. Another redundant claim in the advertisement.

    Posted by David Penington | October 19, 2018, 3:21 pm

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Pingback: Update on the “witch kits” from Sephora | Pagan and the Pit(bulls) - September 6, 2018

  2. Pingback: I reviewed all 161 of GOOP’s wellness products for pseudoscience. Here’s what I found. | Dr. Jen Gunter - October 13, 2018

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