If I asked you to tell me what was in your sanitary pads and tampons, could you tell me? I’m sure most have no idea and that’s pretty scary!
The sad truth is that manufacturers do not have to disclose the list of ingredients. This is because in the USA, pads and tampons fall under the ‘medical device’ category, thanks to the FDA. And in the EU, certain legislation allows non-disclosure of ingredients in pads and tampons. Doesn’t that worry you just a little? Is there something they don’t want us to know? Things like the chemical process to bleach the fibres used in tampons and pads. Or perhaps the cocktail of chemicals that cause irritation in sanitary pads, and cancer causing dioxins?
Your skin is a very permeable thing, and even more so around the vaginal area. So imagine having a pad full of chemical irritants and toxins right up against your skin? Or even worse, a tampon worn inside the vagina. Which in itself is a known risk for TSS (toxic shock syndrome).
Think about it, would you eat something that didn’t disclose the list of ingredients? I’m certain most of you would say no. The same principle then applies to pads and tampons. We have no idea what’s in most of them. But we do know that many of the chemicals known to be used in pads and tampons are linked to:
- Disruption of hormones
- Abnormal tissue growth on the reproductive organs.
What’s Really In Your Tampons And Sanitary Towels
A recent test carried out in 2014 out by Naturally Savvy and Women’s Voices For The Earth, found the following in a pad by the brand, Always:
- Styrene – Carginogen
- Chloromethane – Reproductive Toxicant
- Chloroethane – Carcinogen
- Chloroform – Neurotoxin, Carcinogen, Reproductive Toxicant
- Acetone – Irritant
Tampons and pads are bleached to make them look super white and ‘sanitary’ using Chlorine Dioxide, which leaves behind a dioxin. How much is left behind, we do not know. The FDA ‘claims’ the trace amounts are barely detectable. But the fact that they are detectable, a tampon or pad containing any amount of dioxin is alarming.
During 2015, a new study carried out by University of La Plata in Argentina ,discovered that most cotton balls, tampons (approx 85%) and sanitary products contain the herbicide, glyphosphate (aka roundup). An ingredient that the World Health Organization (WHO) ruled as ‘probably carcinogenic‘. You can read more here.
So What’s The Alternative?
Cloth pads, menstrual cups and sponge tampons are the way forward. They contain no nasties linked to the issues above, and as such are better for your body. They are reusable too, which makes them eco friendly. Not to mention how much more comfortable they are.
Reusable Menstrual Products are not ‘gross’ – heck, it’s YOUR body. We should be empowered and able to say ‘hey, this is my body and I am taking control of what goes in it’. I know there’s such a weird stigma attached to reuseable menstrual products but they’re not half as ‘yuck’ as some people make out.
Cloth pads do get washed but you don’t need to fiddle around with used pads or blood. Once used, you simply place them inside a wetbag or bucket, and at the end of your cycle just pop them in the washing machine. Then you hang them to dry. Pretty straightforward, right? Cloth pads are so much more comfortable, too – with a choice of different fabric toppings and absorbencies, you can be sure to find something that you will love. There’s no awful stink that you get with disposable pads. Some people that have made the switch have reported far less pain and cramping (same with switching to menstrual cups and sponges).
And as for tampon users grimacing at menstrual cups and sponges, what’s with that? You insert a tampon inside your vagina every few hours during your cycle. What’s so different about inserting a cup or a sponge? Most cups can actually be worn the entire day for a full 12 hours and emptied before you go to bed (Depending on your flow and the cup size). So emptying the cup is more minimal than changing a tampon. There’s also only been 1 reported case of TSS* with a cup versus thousands associated with tampons. (* This report does not say that the cup caused TSS – just that the user happened to be using a cup at the time of developing TSS. Correlation does not imply causation – check out this amazing video here which explains it better).
Sponge tampons/sea sponges don’t last quite as long as a menstrual cup, and are usually very similar to tampons in useage time. But they don’t have the same issues associated with tampons such as dioxins or leaving fibres behind.
When folded for insertion, menstrual cups are actually not much bigger than a super tampon.
What About Organic Cotton Tampons & Pads?
If reusable menstrual products like cloth pads or menstrual cups aren’t your thing, I would suggest switching to a brand using organic cotton for their tampons or pads such as Natracare, Organyc and TOTM.
Organic cotton isn’t sprayed with pesticides or herbicides. The brands behind such products are pretty much completely open and honest about their ingredients. So you know you can trust them when it comes to be completely transparent.
I think we need to be far less grossed out by our bodies and take charge of what goes in or against it. Our menstrual cycles are nothing to be ashamed of and don’t we deserve to have a comfortable (as can be!) period without exposing our bodies to goodness knows what?
A fantastic article on this subject can be found here: Are feminine hygeine products slowly harming you?
Incase you haven’t noticed, I do not shy away from these subjects. I am a massive advocate for RUMPS (Reusable Menstrual Products) and I will talk right down to the nitty gritty about it. There’s no such thing as TMI in my opinion so if you need any advice to ditch those disposables, feel free to ‘Contact Me’.