If you’ve ever discovered an old box of tampons lurking in the back of your bathroom cabinet or vanity or found a wrapped tampon in the depths of an old purse, you may have wondered, do tampons expire? It’s a common question, and it turns out the answer isn’t quite so straightforward. We decided to ask ob/gyns for the answer. We were surprised by what they told us. What they told us was surprising.
Understanding tampon expiration dates
You know things like milk and cheese expire, making them unappealing — and dangerous — to eat, and you know that expired medicines can be ineffective. It’s important to check the dates on tampons as well.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulates tampons as medical devices, but manufacturers are not required to include “product dating,” the term the United States Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service uses for expiration dates on packaging. That lack of industry standards means many products might not have a “use by” or “best by” date stamped on the box.
Related: A Doctor’s Advice: ‘Can I Use Expired COVID Tests?’
Do tampons expire?