Did you know that conventional pads and tampons are made with chemicals known to cause cancer, birth defects, and hormone disruption, just to name a few? Did you also know that your skin is the largest organ in your body, vaginal tissue isn't like other skin, it's covered in mucous membranes, it's very permeable and it's a direct route to your reproductive organs, put these two facts together, and it leads you to the conclusion that using conventional sanitary pads and tampons is harmful to your body.
Think of how many pads and tampons you have used in your life already, and how many you will have used by the time your hormones take a nose dive into menopause (that is, of course, unless you make the switch to cloth menstrual pads and period panties!) If you really take a moment to do the math, the average woman spends the equivalent of 10 years of her life menstruating. Think about it, your most delicate body parts are snuggled up and cozy to these toxins, all day and all night long for 10 years!
So what are these toxins? Well, apparently, the manufacturers of these products do not have to fully disclose their ingredients because pads and tampons are considered ‘medical devices.’ But we do know that they include synthetic plastics and an ominous-sounding phrase ‘volatile organic compound’ or VOCs. VOCs are compounds that can turn into gas or vapor easily. Not all are harmful to humans, but the ones in commercial pads and tampons tend to be. While they may not harm you with one-time exposure, they can build up and have damaging long-term effects. BPA and BPS are chemicals known to be in plastic and most likely in your sanitary pad as well as;
- Styrene: carcinogen
- Chloromethane: reproductive toxicant
- Chloroethane: carcinogen
- Chloroform: carcinogen, reproductive toxicant, neurotoxin
- Acetone: irritant
- Doxin there are no "safe" level of exposure to dioxin-bleach (which is used to give the pads and tampons their white color) Conventional pads are made from non-organic cotton contain pesticides and most-likely GMO’s.
Let's not forget about the odor neutralizers and synthetic fragrances which can be made up of a cocktail other chemicals, none of these are ingredients do well for your body. And what about the environment? We all know the harsh effect of plastic products on our environment, not only from production but also with the amount and destructiveness of waste. (Think floating islands of plastic in the Pacific Ocean and fish bellies full of plastic particles). While disposable pads and tampons may be convenient at the moment, the amount of waste produced is incredibly extensive. Not only the pad itself but the plastic wrap that it comes in and the applicators used for tampons. Women, we are producing so much waste every month just by choosing to use disposable pads.
But we don’t have to. Just like any other big corporation, the companies that manufacture pads and tampons are trying to make money. They typically are not concerned with actual women’s health, but how to turn a natural, recurring, and almost unavoidable aspect of our lives into a commodity. There are many other options available today. If you must use disposable, try a brand that promotes their use of organic cotton and is free of dyes. If you are ready to make the full switch away from wasteful, disposable products, there are vaginal cups, cloth pads, and of course, the period panty. You have many options, ladies, so please do yourself and the environment a favor by choosing safe and healthy ones.
Guest Blogger Anne Fricke is an author, performance poet, podcaster, mother, wife and campfire storyteller. You can learn more about her at annefricke.com