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No one wants to discuss feminine hygiene products. Not ever.
It’s usually embarrassing and the topic can make even the strongest woman incredibly uncomfortable. Mothers purchase their daughters’ products and pray for them to read the directions instead of asking questions.
When a girl hit puberty, it’s automatically assumed that she’ll use pads for protection and sanitary reasons. Eventually, some young women may use tampons as well. They’re convenient, absorbent and, after a learning curve, reasonably easy to use. They’re on hand for when you need them. Women cycle every month from puberty to menopause and use what they require during those times.
But with studies questioning how these goods are made and what toxins they contain, women have new information to consider. The dangers sanitary products pose is a real concern. Ignoring them can lead to bigger health problems in the future.
The Science of Skin
Your skin is your largest organ. It is also the thinnest and most permeable organ. For women, this includes the skin around the delicate vaginal area. Any substance that comes in contact with your skin can be absorbed into your body, directly into your bloodstream.
It is this quality that makes topical medications so effective.
Your digestive system is designed to process compounds and rid your body of potential toxins. When something is absorbed through your skin, it doesn’t go through your body’s natural defense system. Your skin is unable to weed out the good stuff from what is potentially toxic.
A good rule of thumb in regards to skin care is that if you wouldn’t eat something, then you shouldn’t apply it to your skin.
Skin Health and Feminine Hygiene Products
Let’s talk about how conventional tampons and pads are manufactured. A single sanitary napkin can contain enough plastic to make four plastic bags. Chemicals within the plastic include potentially toxic chemicals, pesticides, and petrochemicals. That’s quite a chemical concoction to put in contact with the most sensitive skin on your body.
Since these products are considered “medical devices,” manufacturers aren’t required to disclose all of the ingredients they contain. Companies typically disclose that a pad contains foam and an absorbent material.
One woman compared a 100% organic cotton pad with a nationally known brand of pad. When burned, the organic pad burned slowly and steadily, leaving behind almost no residue other than the ash from burning. By striking comparison, the national brand pad created thick, black smoke and left behind a thick residue.
This led analysts to suspect that it contained petrochemicals, synthetic materials, and dioxins. Chemicals that have known links to cancer, heart disease, harm to developing embryos, and organ damage.
Tampons are manufactured using a blend of cotton, rayon, or a blend of the two materials. All tampons – organic or synthetic – have to pass the same standards for absorbency and protection.
Could Your Pad or Tampon be Harming You?
How can a clean, white pad or tampon cause damage? Consider whether or not that tampon is made with organic cotton. If not, chances are that it’s made with GMO cotton treated with crop pesticides. It’s a fact that 94% of the cotton grown in the United States is genetically modified.
If it’s an “odor neutralizing” product or contains any sort of fragrance, it contains a chemical soup of contaminates that can potentially cause infertility, neurological defects, hormone dysfunction, and cancer.
The average woman will use between 16,000 and 24,000 tampons in her lifetime, depending on how long her body menstruates. Without the ability to rid these toxins absorbed topically, they accumulate over a lifetime.
Tampons can also create an ideal environment for bacteria to develop and thrive. The walls of the vagina are so thin and delicate that regular use of feminine hygiene products can cause micro-tears. This presents a perfect breeding ground for bacteria. Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS) is a potentially life threatening condition caused by either a strep or staph infection resulting from tampon use.
Do you wonder why feminine hygiene products are so bright white? In order to get that pure white look, manufacturers use chlorine bleach. A by-product that forms from this bleaching process is dioxins. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recognizes dioxins as a serious threat to public health and determined that there is no safe level of exposure.
However, the Federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) states that there is no discernible threat to the health of tampon or pad users from these dioxins as they are below detectable limits. They believe that “trace amounts” of dioxins are acceptable and safe to the human body.
If you use a product on your skin as much as 24,000 times during your life, is that considered a “trace amount” by the FDA? Clearly, the cancer-causing effects of these toxins are of very little concern to a government agency that long ago stopped caring about long-term consumer health.
Alternative Feminine Hygiene Products to Consider
There are alternatives that you can choose to lessen your exposure to the materials contained in various feminine hygiene products and nursing pads.
- Organic cotton tampons. These products must pass an absorbency test so you are not likely to find any reduction in the quality. Organic tampons continue to test well beneath detectable levels for toxins. Look for 100% organic on the label.
- Organic sanitary pads. Available in health food stores and recognized by more national supermarkets every month, these pads are a safe alternative to traditional pads. Again, absorbency is regulated so you are not losing quality by choosing a safer product. Read the label carefully.
- Menstrual cup. This is an alternative to tampons or pads altogether. This silicone cup is inserted into the vagina during menstruation. Many women are choosing this option because it can be worn overnight, which is not recommended for any tampon.
- Homemade products. Before WWII, disposable products weren’t available. Women had to fashion their own re-usable, washable pads for use during their periods. Some were made from absorbent towels, flannel, or similar cotton fabric. There are many resources online that provide information and even sewing patterns to make your own sanitary pads. The environmental advantages aside, you do need to wash these pads so preparation is key.
Whether you choose organic disposable products or make your own, there are alternatives to feminine hygiene products mass-produced with chemicals and plastics.
Contact large manufacturers and push for product disclosure as well. If it goes into or on your body, you have a right to know what’s in it. If you can’t pronounce it, chances are it’s not good for your delicate skin. Using safe feminine hygiene products is another aspect of living a cancer-free lifestyle.
Research is key. Find the solution that’s right for you and share the news with your females friends and loved ones.
No matter what you use, chances are it still won’t be a comfortable topic… but it may help save someone’s life!