We asked an ob-gyn for the facts. 

By Samantha Lauriello
Updated: December 13, 2018

Attention, all people with periods: Certain Kotex tampons are being recalled for a quality-related defect none of us want to experience. Consumers reported that their Kotex tampons were falling apart inside of their bodies, leaving pieces behind. Yikes.

Kimberly-Clark, which manufactures the feminine-care products, announced the voluntary recall on Tuesday, explaining that some users had to seek medical attention to have the tampon pieces removed. “There also have been a small number of reports of infections, vaginal irritation, localized vaginal injury, and other symptoms,” the statement reads.

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The company said the recall affects regular absorbency U by Kotex Sleek tampons sold throughout the United States and Canada. The recalled tampons were all manufactured between October 7, 2016, and October 16, 2018, and were distributed between October 17, 2016, and October 23, 2018. Those included are three-, 18-, and 34-count packages, as well as 34-count multipacks that contain 17 regular absorbency tampons.

The recalled lot numbers are listed at the bottom of the statement. If you have regular absorbency U by Kotex Sleek tampons at home (or are planning on buying some), compare the lot number on the bottom of the box to those on this list. You can also type your lot number into the company’s online lot checker to see if your specific box is affected.

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If you do notice that one of your tampons has unraveled when you try to take it out, there are a few steps you can take to avoid infection, Christine Greves, MD, an ob-gyn at the center for obstetrics and gynecology at Orlando Health in Florida, tells Health.

First of all, place your fingers inside of your vagina while in a relaxed position to see if you can get the remaining pieces out yourself, Dr. Greves says. If that doesn’t work, or if you think there might still be some left, call your ob-gyn and set up an appointment so she can check if there’s anything remaining.

“Don’t panic—this isn’t something you need to go to the emergency department for at two o’clock in the morning,” she says. “If there are concerns, call your doctor the next morning.”

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Of course, you don’t want to wait too long. Any time a foreign object is left in the vagina, there’s risk of infection and potentially toxic shock syndrome. But Dr. Greves says as long as you call your doctor as soon as possible, you’ll likely be fine.

For those who have used regular absorbency U by Kotex Sleek tampons but haven’t noticed any unraveling, keep an eye out for symptoms of infection just in case. These include a strong odor, irritation, and abnormal discharge. Any of these symptoms are reason to speak with your doctor.

Bottom line: If you have Kotex in your cabinet, double check that your box hasn’t been affected by the recall. 

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