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Here’s what happens if you use expired tampons (yes, they do expire)


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Graphic by Abby Maker for Well+Good

Sure, you check the expiration date on your canned goods and even on skin-care products like sunscreen—but would you ever think to check your tampons? Well, you should.

According to one doctor, the period product not only expires but can also get moldy (#ew). And using a moldy tampon is something no one would wish upon even their worst enemy, i.e., the person who snagged the last drop-in spot in the SoulCycle class you *just* arrived for.

Using a moldy tampon might cause itching, irritation, and increased discharge as the vagina tries to return to its natural pH level, but the situation shouldn’t be serious enough to need antibiotics. —Alyssa Dweck, MD

“Tampons have an expiry date that’s usually five years after they’re produced,” Alyssa Dweck, MD, told Women’s Health. “Think about cotton—it’s susceptible to mold and bacteria. If your bathroom is particularly steamy, you might want to think about storing them in a cool, dark cabinet instead.”

Bathrooms are a veritable breeding ground for bacteria with all that heat and moisture, so it makes total sense that you should keep your stash elsewhere until Flo comes to town. But if you do happen to use a moldy tampon—which might be an easier mistake to make than you’d realize considering so many models are almost completely enclosed within their applicator—it’s not the end of the world, promise.

According to Dr. Dweck, using a moldy tampon might cause itching, irritation, and increased discharge as the vagina tries to return to its natural pH level, but the situation shouldn’t be serious enough to need antibiotics. If you’re worried, though, it never hurts to set up an appointment with your gynecologist to get things checked out. And go buy some new tampons ASAP.

Here are six toxic ingredients to watch out for in your tampons—and exactly what you can do about it