U.S. women spend about $3 billion a year on menstrual products and sanitary protection. And most of the generic and essential menstrual products contain a slew of harmful materials and ingredients.
If you are still using conventional or "normal" tampons and pads, here's why you should rethink about it.
The Dirty Secret
Tampon and pad brands try to make their products look the best-- attractive or discreet covers, bright "clean" white products, scented products, and other misleadingly appealing attributes.
But the process that these companies go through to make the products look like this is appalling for something that women use for their most intimate part of the body.
It's also frightening that these companies are not required to list ingredients for their products on their packaging.
Check out this list of the most common and problematic ingredients found in everyday feminine care products.
To look nice, white, and clean, tampon and pad manufacturers often use chlorine bleach, which can create a toxin called dioxin. In 1994, the EPA issued a report stating that dioxins cause cancer in animals, and probably cause cancer in people. They also determined that those exposed to high levels of dioxins could result in increased risk of damaged immune systems, pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), and reduced fertility.
One study even found that 80% of monkeys exposed to dioxins developed endometriosis, a painful disease where uterine tissue is found inside the uterus.
Although the dioxin hazard has been reduced today, dioxin can still be detected in tampons.
Although it is small amount of dioxin in each tampon, dioxin can come into direct contact with vaginal tissue, which is covered in permeable, mucus membranes leading directly to the reproductive organs. Also, for an average woman's cycle, it is possible that a woman can use 11,000-12,000 tampons per lifetime, which can create a cumulative negative effect.
Highly absorbent viscose rayon makes up the majority of tampons along with a little non-organic or conventional cotton. The use of rayon and leaving tampons in for extended periods of time (as they were intended to be used) increases the risk of TSS (Toxic Shock Syndrome).
Cotton is heavily sprayed with many insecticides and pesticides and it is likely that there are still residues on the end-product, which is then inserted into your most intimate part of your body.
According to a 2016 Report by the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), herbicides are applied to 92% of planted acres of cotton, other chemicals such as dessicants are applied to 76%, and insecticides are applied to 40%.
Fragrance usually is an umbrella term for many different chemicals and ingredients. Fragrance often causes irritation.
BPA is found in many types of plastics, and is often used in tampon applicators, as well as the lining of the pad and even parts of pads itself. BPA is known to cause hormone imbalance issues, as well as increase your risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and hypertension.
Alternative Hygiene Products to Try Immediately:
Menstrual cups are made out of silicon or rubber and are flexible and designed for use inside the vagina during your period to collect the blood. The cup collects the blood as it flows down, rather than absorbing it like tampons and pads. The cup is reusable, and needs to be emptied every 8 -12 hours depending on your flow. After emptying, wash it carefully and insert back in.
- It's cheaper. Invest in it once and you can use it for 1-3 years, if not more. You no longer have to spend money every month buying tampons and pads.
- No risk of TSS (toxic shock syndrome).
- Toxin free! The brands we have recommended are BPA free, dioxin-free, latex-free, and more. They are also made of medical-grade silicon.
- Less changes. It doesn't need to be changed as often as pads or tampons. You can safely go without changing for 8-12 hours depending on your flow.
- It's unnoticeable. You can't feel it when it's in place, and you don't have to deal with blood everytime you go to the bathroom (unless you're changing it).
- Vaginal pH and beneficial bacteria stay in place. Tampons can absorb your vaginal fluid with the blood, which can disrupt your pH and bacteria balance in your vagina. Tampons also can make you feel dry.
- Less blood clotting.
- Potential to help reduce cramps.
- Less landfill waste. You're reducing your environmental impact by not throwing a week's worth of tampons and pads out every month.
- Lena Cup (Small or Large)
- Lunette Cup (Multiple sizes)
- Meluna Cup (Multipe sizes and lengths)
If you are overwhelmed by the different options and sizes and are not sure what's right for you, try using this guide to help you, or reading reviews to see the best option for your body.
Wash with warm or hot water and a non-irritating natural soap after each use and before re-insertion. To avoid discoloration, soak in hydrogen peroxide every few cycles and then wash well. For more wash and care instructions, see the instructions on your purchased cup.
Organic Pads and Tampons:
- Lower risk of TSS with organic tampons.
- Chemical-free! Reduced or eliminated exposure to harmful chemicals and pesticides used to spray cotton.
- Reduced risk of irritation such as rashes, redness, itchiness.
-Chlorine-free or unbleached
- More environmentally friendly (no impact from pesticides).
Most of these brands are 100% certified organic cotton, BPA-free, plastic or mostly plastic-free, fragrance and dye free, chlorine-free, and rayon and latex free. You can also find many of these brands at your local stores such as Target, Walgreens, and more.
Not thrilled about the above options? There are two other options that we know of.
We haven't personally tested any of these, but maybe you want to!
- Period Panties. Check out this list of different brands.
* Please note that we are not affiliated with any of these brands, we just like to support good quality and healthy brands.