Health v Period Products
Looking after your health, especially while bleeding, involves trusting the products that you put close to you. Aside from sensitivity, these areas can absorb external elements easily and quickly. Less than one-tenth of an inch separates your body from potential toxins. Especially the skin in and around the vaginal area.
Anything coming in constant contact with your skin will land in your bloodstream, which makes using products that don't contain harmful chemicals something to consider.
The issue of safe period product options is rarely discussed, but it’s a vitally important topic, especially when many products contain a virtual chemical soup.
What’s Really in Those Sanitary Pads and Tampons?
In the featured article, Andrea Donsky, founder of Naturally Savvy and co-author of Label Lessons: Your Guide to a Healthy Shopping Cart, reveals how little we’re told about the materials in feminine products.
When Andrea called Procter & Gamble directly to discover the contents in their Always Infinity pads, the service reps could only mention two: foam and a patented ingredient called Infinicel — a highly absorbent material able to hold up to 10 times its weight.
This video demonstrates what happens when an organic vs. conventional sanitary pad is burned.
In fact, conventional sanitary pads can contain the equivalent of about four plastic bags! With everything we now know about the hazardous nature of plastic chemicals, this alone is cause for concern.
For example, plasticizing chemicals like BPA and BPS disrupt embryonic development. They’re linked to heart disease and cancer. Phthalates, which give paper tampon applicators a smooth finish, are known to disregulate gene expression, and DEHP may lead to multiple organ damage. Synthetics and plastic restrict air flow and trap heat and dampness, potentially promoting yeast and bacteria growth in your vaginal area. Besides crude oil plastics, conventional sanitary pads can also contain other potentially hazardous ingredients, such as odor neutralizers and fragrances.
The Price You Pay for “Clean” White Tampons and Pads
How do tampons and pads get that ultra-white “clean” look? Usually chlorine bleach, which can create toxic dioxin and other disinfection by-products (DBPs) such as trihalomethane. Studies show dioxin collects in your fatty tissues. According to an EPA draft report, dioxin is a serious public health threat that has no “safe” level of exposure! Published reports show that even trace dioxin levels may be linked to:
• Abnormal tissue growth in the abdomen and reproductive organs
• Abnormal cell growth throughout the body
• Immune system suppression
• Hormonal and endocrine system disruption
• Conventional tampons probably contain genetically-modified organisms (GMOs).
• Tampons and pads with odor neutralizers and artificial fragrances are virtually a chemical soup, laced with artificial colors, polyester, adhesives, polyethylene (PET), polypropylene and propylene glycol (PEG), contaminants linked to hormone disruption, cancer, birth defects, dryness and infertility.
Beware of Toxic Shock Syndrome
Remember: Tampons create a favorable environment for bacteria growth. Micro-tears in the vaginal wall from tampons allow bacteria to accumulate. One infamous risk is Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS), caused either by poisonous toxins from Staphylococcus aureus (staph) or group A streptococcus (strep) bacteria. TSS is a life-threatening condition
• Avoid tampons with rayon in, which helps make them super absorbent tampons, rayon can cause bacterial growth increasing the chance of TSS.
Try the following test at home.
With most brands of tampons and you might notice the fibres coming off from the tampon after just a few minutes. This is because normally tampons are made with a mix of rayon and pesticide-sprayed cotton. Rayon fibres are short and straight and can easily slide apart from each other, shedding into the vagina during use.
Apart from the hygiene issues of fibres remaining in the vagina, there are also implications for bacterial colonisation which can contribute to vaginal infections. Rayon in tampons has also been linked with Toxic Shock Syndrome.
Natracare does not have an issue with fibre loss as our tampons, including the string, are made from only 100% organic cotton, a wavy-construction fibre that easily interlocks.
Natracare championed the issue of fibre loss back in the 1990’s as a result of concerns raised both by users of tampons and nurses. Nurses conducting smear tests reported having to remove shed tampon fibres from around the cervix before being able to obtain a clear smear sample.
Manufacturers, who at first denied the fibre loss issue, quickly placed a synthetic overwrap material around their tampons to prevent the inner absorbent core of fibres falling away. The choice of material, a plastic called polypropylene, is heated to melt the overwrap and form a seal over the tampon core. This reduced some of the fibre loss, but did not eradicate it. On top of this, polypropylene is made from crude oil and does not biodegrade, ultimately damaging the environment.