Kimberly-Clark, the company behind Kotex tampons and pads, just issued a major recall: they’re pulling U by Kotex Sleek Tampons off shelves after reports that the tampons can unravel inside your body.
The Kotex recall, announced this week, comes after reports that U by Kotex tampons (the regular absorbency variety) were unraveling or breaking apart when women tried to remove them. Some women actually had to seek medical attention to remove the bits of the tampon from their bodies, according to a statement released by the company.
The product defect isn’t just uncomfortable-sounding, it could cause serious health risks. Per the Kimberly-Clark’s statement, there have been a “small number” of reports of infections (i.e. yeast infections, bladder infections and bacterial vaginosis), irritation (such as itching and swelling) and “localized vaginal injury” (think: pain and bleeding).
Tampons have been under increased scrutiny by scientists and lawmakers in recent years as researchers begin to look into how the chemicals used to make them—bleach, pesticides, fragrances—might be affecting your vaginal health. (So far, there’s no definitive evidence that the impact of the trace amounts of these chemicals is enough to really do damage in humans, but considering the fact that the average woman uses nearly 17,000 pads and tampons in her life, it’s enough to prompt some women to go the menstrual cup route instead.)
So, how do you know if your tampons are part of the Kotex recall? The defective batch was sold between October 17, 2016 and October 23, 2018, so if you bought any U by Kotex Sleek tampons during that time frame, you can check the lot number on the box—look for the nine-digit number on the bottom of the box and enter it into Kotex’s recall database—to see if your stash is part of the recall. .
“Any consumer with the impacted U by Kotex Sleek Tampons, Regular Absorbency, in their possession should stop using the product immediately,” according to a statement released by the FDA. And if you’re experiencing any irritation, pain, or symptoms that are out of the norm after using a tampon—or if it starts to break apart as you remove it—talk to a doctor ASAP.