The monthly menstrual cycle can be challenging. From the time you had your first period as a teenager, to the love-hate relationship you have with it every month as you go through womanhood. We experience, bloating, tenderness, mood swings, hot sweats, irritation, cramps, and skin problems; and that’s all before your period has started! So finding and using products that take the discomfort, embarrassment, and challenges out of the monthly cycle should be easy and stress-free?
Not if you continue to use the current mainstream brands that are available.
Along with finding sanitary products that are comfortable, discreet, affordable and compliment your intimate area, we now have to contend with the toxins that are embedded in our intimate care products.
Our skin is the largest and most absorbent organ. Anything you place on or against it is absorbed into your bloodstream. The lining of the vagina happens to be exceptionally absorbent. So, I have one question for you. What are sanitary products made off? Cotton you say? Wrong – well, not the everyday sanitary brands available in your supermarkets and everyday general stores.
I know… that sigh you let out when you now have to take additional and extreme care when buying intimate products to protect you on a monthly basis from harmful ingredients/substances. Is anything safe?!
Unfortunately, most feminine hygiene products contain mostly rayon, viscose, and cellulose wood fluff pulp. Let me briefly explain each ingredient:
Rayon consists of cellulose fibers from bleached wood pulp.
Viscose is wood cellulose acetate fabricated to feel like cotton.
Fluff pulp comes from wood and is the primary filler in sanitary pads.
Controversially, the use of these ingredients is tied to their superior absorbency. With tampons, the fibers can stick to fluids within the vaginal wall and remain in the body upon removal of the product, and that can cause vaginal infections.
Another controversy is the use of chlorine when bleaching the fibers used in tampons and pads. Dioxin is the toxic result of this process and poses some serious threats to women’s health. Dioxin is stored within the body fat for long periods of time and can lead to delayed pregnancy development, cancer, and a range of diseases. Other problems with dioxin are the irregular development of tissue and cells within the reproductive system, weakened immune system, and disturbance of hormone production – all are side effects of dioxin, as studies have shown.
The rise in bacterial growth that results from some mass produced tampons might also lead to an increased risk of toxic shock syndrome. Poisonous toxins worsen and can develop to become potentially life-threatening.
Here’s a list of some other toxins found in your sanitary products.
Chlorine Used to turn products to a white.
Dioxins, furans, and disinfection byproducts (DBPs) The bleaching process creates toxins, such as dioxin, and DBPs, like trihalomethane. Dioxin also has a very long half-life, meaning it remains in your fatty tissues for up to 11 years. Dioxins are known carcinogens linked to reproductive, developmental, and hormonal problems. They also sabotage your immune system.
Petrochemicals Today’s sanitary pads are about 90 percent plastic, made from crude oil. This plastic restricts airflow. It traps dampness and heat and can promote the growth of yeast and bacteria, which upsets the delicate balance needed to remain healthy. If a product is labelled “non-woven,” “highly absorbent foam” or “polyethene,” take it as a red flag that it contains petrochemicals. Having petrochemicals against your skin may be dangerous in the long term. Sensitive individuals may also experience burning, chafing, and soreness.
Pesticides Most of the cotton used in tampons and pads is conventionally-grown – and conventional cotton is one of the most heavily sprayed crops.
GMOs It is believed and activists have proclaimed that GMOs are linked to many health problems, including allergies, leaky gut syndrome, inflammation, and cancer. So if you avoid eating GMO foods, you may also want to reconsider putting GMO products on or in highly absorbent parts of your body.
Synthetics I would say it is impossible to find 100% cotton tampons or pads in your everyday stores. Most are made from synthetics, like rayon, viscose, and Super Absorbent Powders (SAPs). They may also be laced with artificial colours, adhesives, polyester, polyethene (PET), polypropylene, and propylene glycol (PEG).
Fragrance You probably wouldn’t even think twice when you read the word ‘fragrance’ on your packet of sanitary products; however, what it really means is this supposedly lovely fragrance, which your intimate parts does not benefit from is being exposed to toxic chemicals. And the government does not require companies to list fragrances on labels.“Fragrances” can include known carcinogens, endocrine disrupters, irritants, and allergens. Many of today’s pads and tampons come in scented versions.
TOXIC SHOCK SYNDROME – TSS
Earlier this year, a woman made headline news for being placed in intensive care following the effects TSS. Back in the 1980s, Proctor and Gamble Rely Tampons were found to have caused the deaths of 38 women. And I suspect between then and now, there have been hundreds of mild to serious cases of TSS, so please believe that this is a serious health concern. TSS is a systemic, potentially deadly illness caused by either Staphylococcus aureus (staph) or group A streptococcus (strep) bacteria. Though rare, it is linked to tampon use.
Super-absorbent synthetic materials create the perfect breeding ground for TSS-causing bacteria. These materials expand so much that they stick to your vaginal wall. When you remove the tampon, loosened fibers are left behind, or part of the vaginal lining may be scraped or peeled off.
SANITARY CARE THROUGH THE AGES
Back in the day, Egyptian women used softened papyrus for tampons. In Greece, tampons were rigged out of lint wrapped around small pieces of wood. And in Rome, pads and tampons were made of soft wool. In other parts of the world paper, moss, wool, animal skins and grass were used to fashion ways to absorb menstrual flow.
Johnson and Johnson produced the first commercial sanitary pads called Lister Towels, which were not successful or welcomed by women.
EARLY TWENTIETH CENTURY
Many American women used homemade pads, using the same absorbent cotton material used for baby diapers. They would pin these cloths, or rags, to their underwear or to homemade muslin belts. Sanitary aprons and bloomers were available by mail and were designed to protect clothing from staining, not to absorb blood flow.
WORLD WAR I
This era saw nurses in France who realised that the cellulose bandages they were using on wounded soldiers absorbed blood much better than plain old cotton, so they converted these bandages into sanitary pads for their own menstrual flow.
Kotex, Johnson and Johnson took the lead in manufacturing and supplying stores with disposable sanitary pads.
For years, Lysol disinfectant was used as a female contraceptive, as well as a kitchen and bathroom cleaner. Even though it didn’t actually prevent pregnancy, ads touted it as “a feminine hygiene product for married women,” code for birth control. A similar brand, Zonite, played on women’s fears of feminine odour.
Thereafter, the menstrual cup, Stayfree pads with adhesive strips were now readily available to women.
Unfortunately, the most common sanitary products used by women today are pads and tampons that contain these horrific toxins. Why? because you can pop into any store and pick up a pack of pads or tampons, including the store own-brand range which is even cheaper than leading brands. The familiar brands are still very cheap and come in large quantities. All of which are huge selling points for the modern woman; as life has become about saving time and money. But like nutrition, where we need to make it a top priority in the choices of food we eat, we also need to be organised, selective, and informed about the sanitary products we use, as our decision to choose a better non-toxic product could potentially save your life!
With most major cities having health stores that stock health and beauty products, there should be no excuse to make better choices when it comes to your sanitary care. And you can also check out social media such as Youtube to watch reviews on alternative and safe sanitary products. You may have to go out of your way to purchase these items or the products might be slightly more expensive, but you shouldn’t put a stopwatch or a price on your body and health!
If you choose non-toxic sanitary pads or tampons, they may come in smaller packaging or quantities, I would suggest stocking up on your next visit to the health store.
Here are a few alternative sanitary products you could try and possibly switch too.
NATRACARE have a wide selection of women’s intimate care which includes: Tampons, Pads, Liners, Wipes, Maternity and Incontinence pads. Natracare is made with 100% cotton is free from dioxin, pesticides, bleaching, rayon, chlorine and plastics. The liners and pads specifically are compostable. The wipes contain organic cotton and essential oils, no SLS, no parabens and are also compostable.
MENSTRUAL CUP Diva cup or Mooncup as it is also known is becoming more popular. The cup has been around since the 1930s and is a reusable, bell-shaped menstrual cup that is worn internally and sits low in the vaginal canal, collecting rather than absorbing your menstrual flow. The cup is reusable, medical grade silicone, with no chemicals, plastics or dyes. There are lots of reviews on social media on how to use it, especially if you have concerns about using the cup when you have a heavy menstrual cycle, definitely worth checking out!
REUSEABLE SANITARY TOWELS are available in a variety of colours, shapes and designs to make your life more comfortable. Some women usually need around 6-8 sanitary towels as a minimum, washing every day, some women prefer to have extra so that all their reusable sanitary towels can be washed together at the end of their period. Reusable pads have adjustable absorbency, leakproof, natural fibres, and organic fibres.
Many of us are very aware of the effects that manufacturing and disposing of sanitary products is having on our planet. And our awareness towards our health is also increasing, words such as dioxin, bleaching agent etc somehow don’t fit with private parts or intimate care! So I encourage you to research an alternative method and product that suits you.
It’s time to let go of disposable products and move toward a healthier and ecological solution to handle our menstrual flow.
Let me know below if you have switched to an organic sanitary care alternative. Let us know what type of product you switched too and how easy it was to change. What would you recommend?