Updated: Feb 24, 2020
We use sanitary pads and tampons often without wondering if they are safe. What exactly is in these things anyway? And should we be worried?
Did you realize that everything that comes in contact with your skin has the potential to enter your blood stream? Our skin is our largest organ but it is also our thinnest. Less than one-tenth of an inch. That means less than one-tenth of an inch separates us from harmful toxins. And even worse, our skin is extremely permeable meaning it's that much easier for chemicals to enter our blood stream once on our skin. Now think about the skin of your vaginal wall. Thinner and even more permeable. Yet we don't think about the potential risk we take every month when using a tampon. Willingly sticking all kinds of chemicals up in our lady parts every month.
The average woman uses nearly 17,000 tampons in her lifetime. Nearly 25,000 if she's on estrogen replacement therapy which is another post all together. That's a lot of tampons and a lot of time toxins become intimate with your lady parts. Sounds amazing right.
Women have been using tampons for years though right? They can't be that bad right? Wrong.
First of all, things like this aren't often studied. Women's health is sadly not on the forefront of health or research. (Which is baffling) Luckily studies have been done more recently and the findings are pretty scary.
It's not just about Toxic Shock Syndrome or TSS. We aren't really told what's in tampons or pads and companies get away with this because feminine products are considered medical devices.
In my opinion we have the right to know what's in anything we ingest or put on or in our bodies. But maybe that's just me.
So what is in tampons and sanitary pads?
Sanitary pads can contain the same amount of plastic as four plastic bags. We all know the hazards of plastics so I don't think I really need to go into this but plastic chemicals such BPA and BPS are linked to heart disease and cancer. They also are said to disrupt development of the embryo. I'm not saying if you use tampons or pads you will damage your pregnancy... but really how do we know what exactly causes miscarriages? I've had two and have no idea what happened except that sometimes it happens. Do you prefer the smoother tampons? Who doesn't right? Well the chemicals that makes the insertion smooth are known as Phthalates and they are also known to disrupt gene expression and could lead to multiple organ damage. The synthetic plastics in pads trap heat and moisture which can lead to yeast and bacterial infections. The fragrances added to tampons and pads are also packed with harmful chemicals which can lead to hormonal imbalances. Yes please please put these chemicals inside the most sensitive part of my body!
Have you thought about why tampons are white? I have no idea why except that white typically signifies clean. They bleach the cotton to get it that white. Yea put some bleach up there... The by-products of this chemical mess can attach to and store in your fatty tissues which can lead to:
Abnormal tissue growth in your stomach and around your reproductive organs
Decreased immune system response and Hormonal and endocrine disruption and imbalance.
Tampons also include pesticides, GMO's, artificial fragrance, artificial coloring, polyesters and more. They can strip your natural lining leaving you feel dry and uncomfortable. They may even be linked to infertility. Whoa. Why is okay to have these things on the market? Little girls are starting their menses earlier and earlier now. Age 8-10 is the new normal. Do you really want them using these chemical vagina bombs?
What's even scarier about these things is you often live day to day thinking your symptoms are normal. It's not like you get a big red zit on your forehead that won't go away until you fix the problem. Aside from actual TSS, symptoms are often not external, leaving them unseen and therefore, untreated. You might have swelling in your limbs, night sweats, bloating, painful periods, headaches, and maybe achy joints. You figure you have always been this way so it must be your norm but you're wrong. These things are signs of inflammation and often signs of hormonal imbalances. Many women don't seek help until they have infertility or extremely painful or irregular periods.Tampons alone don't cause all of these issues and simply doing without won't fix all your problems but it's a huge step in the right direction. The more I learned about the potential damage these things were causing the more I felt the need to share this information with women everywhere.
What to use instead?
You can use organic tampons, natural cotton reusable pads, or menstrual cups. All of these are better options.
I personally use a menstrual cup and I will never ever ever go back. I didn't start because I had infertility or some illness that made me make drastic changes. I switched because I hated tampons. They hurt. They were uncomfortable. I hated changing them a million times a day and fearing if I slept too long with one in. Plus when my cycle was light I would need to switch to the lighter ones and it was all just a bit much. I switched to the menstrual cup because a friend had told me about them and I was curious. Life changing. Now I only change out the cup twice a day. It can stay in for 12 hours which is super convenient. I don't feel it. Whether my flow is heavy or barely there I don't feel it which is nice. Many women ask if I feel the flow swishing around... NO. I don't. You might be surprised how little flow there actually is. I like knowing my norm and knowing what my flow actually looks like. I know that sounds weird but it's important to know what your body is doing. Seriously, it's YOUR BODY. You should know what the hell it's up to.
The cups can last for years which saves you money. One cup for a year or more! Think about the money saved there. You figure on average a box of 36 tampons costs $7. That's $84 a year. A pack of two menstrual cups cost me about $25...
You can find reusable cloth pads at Walmart or online for about $20. You might want to buy a few sets but you still save money and your health in the long run. If you sew you can simply make them yourself!
I know this all might seem a little foreign and strange but I am telling you, it's worth trying. Crunchy women are all around you and you would be surprised who choose to use menstrual cups and cloth pads. Long gone are the days when only hippies did crazy things like this. Not that that's bad. Sometimes my goal in life is to be a hippie.
Bottom line and Take Away
Take charge and ownership of your health. You should care about what you ingest, what you put on your body and definitely what you put IN your body. Many of the symptoms we as women have are fixable if we would take the time to educate ourselves and make little changes in our everyday lives. I encourage you to try out the menstrual cups for one cycle, 3 cycles to get your moneys worth, and see how you like it. You'll be pleasantly surprised how easy it is.
I personally use the Duttchess menstrual cups which I posted below. Just click the picture to read more and purchase. If you have children you will want to get the post child size. If you have not had children you will want the pre-childbirth size. Having a cesarean doesn't matter. If you have had a child or been pregnant you will want the post pregnancy size regardless of the type of delivery. I also included a link to cloth reusable pads and panty liners. These are great options for young girls when they start their flow too.
If the thought of using a menstrual cup is just TOO MUCH for you, No Problem! Now there are great options for organic and chemical free tampons and pads. We really just need to be kinder to our lady parts. After all, they do a lot for us!!