Why tampons are probably a bad idea (generally) post-collapse
In another thread, someone is discussing crocheting tampons post-collapse. While I applaud their creativity, I don't think it's a good idea.
Today we have a very high potential for cleanliness. We have a high availability of soap, hot water, clean water in general that one can pull from almost anywhere, and the time and security of acquiring them. This will NOT be the case post-collapse.
In some cases we have antibacterial soap that usually operate in one of two ways. One way is to have either Triclosin which perhaps is a bactericide for dealing with MRSA (the evidence is still out) because it interferes with fatty acid synthesis. The other methodology is using tetrasodium EDTA which disrubts metals needed for bacteria, and so they die. Both kinds of soap and their reputed mechanism of action are under review.
Even if they work, the way that bacteria operate is powerful. Some bacteria are not killed by these agents. Because bacteria counts are enormously high over an area (think millions of them or more) then some survive and multiply. Then bacteria can also pass on genes to other strains as well. In time, stronger and stronger bacteria are being generated.
If you've noticed, there's major concern among medical professionals about antibiotic resistance. These tools are utilized to deal with bacteria. They work by many different mechanisms of action, however again some bacteria survive. Often they're blended with other antibiotics, and so then the bacteria must deal with that too.
People take antibiotics too often. Because it takes time to culture a bacteria, a physician will prescribe an antibiotic and guess the strain that might be causing the illness. Since many different kinds of bacteria could result in similar symptoms, they often use broad spectrum antibiotics that deal with different kinds. However this creates superstrains of resistant bacteria.
In addition, if the antibiotic doesn't treat the correct bacteria, the patient gets sicker and may shed the bacteria in the general population. People think a magic pill fixes them. No, it doesn't. They often are still infectious.
Still other times a person has a virus. We have very few medicines which can disrupt viral infections and antibiotics don't do anything to kill them. Still people demand a pill, so some weak or kind physicians prescribe them to cover their ass (we are a litigious society). These end up creating stronger and stronger bacteria that naturally occur in our bodies. It's a very bad plan for dealing with a threat that isn't affected by the treatment and imparts strength to what may be benign or low count concurrent bacteria within our bodies.
Because we're relatively healthy, at any one time our bodies have surface and interior bacteria. If we get weaker due to malnutrition, sleep deprivation, injury, or stress, then our immune system can't cope as well, and these “passengers” then end up making us sick.
Our skin has many kinds of bacteria that live on it, but the skin is not broken save for tiny microabrasions, and these heal. Whenever you shave, have you noticed a pimple forming somewhere in that area? I'll bet a lot of women (and some men) have especially noticed this under the arms, on the legs, and often in the vaginal area. This is chiefly Staph aureus.
The bacteria is around the surface of the skin because it likes to hide in the nose, under the arms, in the vagina, in the naval, etc. On overweight folks, it may hide in folds of the skin.
Tampons are fine to use under pristine conditions. They're ideal sometimes since you can place one, and like stoppering a cork, they stop the flow of menstruation.
After a collapse, a tampon might be a very good way to temporarily stop bleeding of other kinds of wounds too. Consider that, and think, “Do I really want to use them up for monthly use?” Sterile dressings will be few and far between, but many people have tampons in their homes.
Under collapse conditions, you might be able to daily clean hands and face, but you might not. It all depends upon your level of preparedness and supplies. Even if well supplied, there will be areas without water or “iffy” water. You might only be able to do an all-over wash once a week, and even then it will be abbreviated. Using a tampon under those conditions is a very very bad idea.
Tampons are made under sterile conditions. They're made of specially treated fibers that are probably autoclaved (heated at very high temperatures with high pressure), then packaged under sterile conditions. This is done to produce a high quality product for internal use.
What about your crocheting yarn? It wasn't made for this use. It initially was created somewhere for exterior use as clothing. Post-collapse, it may be created by sheering wool from sheep under routine conditions in pens or outside under unknown conditions. It is created by hand use under far less hygienic conditions. It will certainly contain high levels of bacteria just from being handled even if you wash your hands frequently.
Even if you soaked the material in a chemical agent, then unless you could pack it under pristine conditions, then it wouldn't remain sterile. Bacteria will always be found in the air carried by dusts.
It's a very bad idea, but I encourage people to think about clever ways to create things post-collapse.