Are Your Tampons & Pads Affecting Your Hormones?
Here’s a crazy statistic: the average women uses 11,000 feminine care products in her lifetime, maybe more. But here’s an even crazier fact: all the companies that make those feminine care products don’t have to tell you what’s in them and you' won’t find the ingredients listed on any label - despite the fact you’re exposing your body to them that many times in your life!
That’s not ok!
Why does this matter?
Independent testing shows that many off-the-shelf feminine care products contain rayon, pesticide residues, dioxins from chlorine bleaching processes along with a chemical soup of fragrances and dyes. That list is linked to serious health problems such as cancer, birth defects, infertility, vaginal dysfunction including dryness, breakouts, hormone disruption, and more. Plus, they are terrible for the planet!
I wish that list wasn’t true, but it is.
It’s easy to go your whole life without thinking too much about what your feminine care products contain, so don’t feel bad if your head just exploded. I know mine did when I found out!
And companies love it that way. We’re conditioned not to think too much about feminine products or talk too much about them. And that needs to change. Because all the chemicals in these products affect our health as women and we have the right to know what’s in them. It would help if we could flip a label in our feminine products just like we do a food label to know what’s in them.
After all, we wear feminine products against our skin, the largest organ in our bodies and it’s highly permeable -- especially the delicate skin in and around the vaginal area. Putting something on your skin is kind of like eating it. Up to 64% (or more) can get absorbed.
You really deserve to know what conventional feminine hygiene products can contain:
Pesticides: Any product, especially tampons, that uses cotton is made with conventional cotton, which is the most heavily sprayed crop with pesticides and insecticides. In fact, cotton is the most heavily sprayed crop in the world. In one study, 85 percent of tampons tested contained glyphosate, a popular herbicide commonly found in Monsanto’s RoundUp weed killer. It causes cancer. Anyone else gag at the thought of putting that kind of cotton against your skin?
Plastic: Some sources say one sanitary pad can have about the equivalent of about four plastic bags in it. That’s why conventional pads can add approximately 180 billion plastic bags to our waste stream and expose our bodies to all plastic’s chemicals.
Rayon: This cellulose fiber actually comes from processed wood pulp, which doesn’t sound too bad. Unfortunately, all the chemical process needed to make rayon, make it potentially toxic to your health.
Chlorine and other potentially toxic materials: Companies use chlorine to bleach the wood pulp and cotton. This can create toxic dioxin and other disinfection-by-products (DBPs) such as trihalomethane. Studies have linked dioxin exposure to cancer.
Perfume and fragrances (Phalates): Companies put odor neutralizers and fragrances, as well as artificial colors, polyester, adhesives, polyethylene (PET), polypropylene and propylene glycol (PEG), and more. These types of chemicals are linked to hormone disruption.
Parabens: Used as preservatives. (Parabens are also commonly used in personal lubricants and found in food.) Parabens have a chemical structure that’s similar to estrogen, which means they can mimic the effects of that hormone in the body. Think massive hormone disrupter and it’s linked to breast cancer.
GMOs: Most of us only think of GMOs in our food, but 94 percent of all cotton grown in the United States is genetically engineered.
and so many MORE. Trust me, this is the short version of a long list of potential chemicals.
The fastest way to immediately cut your exposure to that nasty list is to switch to getting organic pads and tampons. (You can also look into reusable options).
Here’s why organic pads and tampons are a change that matters to you:
Because regular pads contain plastic many women get skin irritation and allergic reactions from the regular pads. By using organic pads, you do not subject your body to plastic, and your skin can breathe better and this prevents reactions.
Organic cotton lasts longer compared to regular cotton and can better help to maintain hygiene because it skips the mix of plastic, cotton, and other untested elements in traditional pads that doesn’t make them last as long.
You get to skip the chlorine bleaching. Why does this matter you might ask? The bleach in regular pads exposes you to high levels of dioxins that results in skin lesions and altered liver function (yes, liver function!). Your vagina is one of the most absorbent and sensitive parts of your body, so the importance of avoiding this exposure cannot be emphasized enough. Please skip the bleach! This alone makes it worth the switch. Also, make sure your label says “unbleached.”
Studies have shown that organic pads/tampons have a reduced risk of toxic shock syndrome (TSS), which is a life-threatening bacterial condition linked to types of super absorbency tampons.
Organic hygiene products also reduce your carbon footprint. While commercially available pads are difficult to dispose, and can take hundreds of years to decompose, organic feminine products are biodegradable. A further plus is that the organic options are made from sustainably sourced materials, which protect the soil and water systems, and ensure low carbon dependency.
Although organic feminine hygiene products are getting easier to find, it’s hard not to buy out of habit. We buy what we’ve bought for years (and have never thought about) or what our moms, aunts, sisters, and friends have been using for years (and most likely never thought about).
Start thinking about your feminine products in the same way you think about food. More of us are looking for organic products and the same goes for our feminine products. I love supporting companies that want to show me what’s in their products and do business in a way that is sustainable (good for the planet), healthy (good for you) and ethical (good for the people who grow and make your products), unlike brands that hide their ingredients, block attempts to update labeling laws and research (Rep. Carolyn Maloney of New York has tried to introduce legislation that requires the study of potential health risks, but her bills have been denied every time), and use ingredients that aren’t good for us or the planet.
If you need a little extra motivation, remember that our vaginas are the most absorbent area of our bodies. It’s worth a little time to find a new, healthier product that don’t come with so many extra chemicals. Why choose something that can do your body and the planet harm? Here are healthier organic tampons and pads that we love!
Your health is affected by everything you bring into your life! Don’t stop with food! Take a closer look at your clothes, your cleaning products, your makeup and beauty products…you get the idea! Do research on the chemicals they can contain and their potential impact on your health and the planet. Then make the choice that works for you! Asking what something is made from and how it’s made can help you bring healthier products into your life and support companies doing business the right way!