When you walk into any supermarket or general pharmacy to purchase your monthly feminine care products you are bombarded by a plethora of choices. Tampons and pads in variety of absorbency and style; light, regular, heavy, super heavy, scented, long, with wings, ultra thin, applicator, no applicator, new smooth applicator; you get the picture. All these choices take up almost an entire isle. I don’t know about you, but I feel overwhelmed with all of these choices. Recently I moved to a new state, with new grocery stores, I was comfortable with my one and only choice in my feminine care needs, but gasp! I went to all of the local grocery stores and they don’t carry my one and only choice. What should I do? I spent a good half an hour looking for a replacement product, then left disappointed because none of those stores offered anything closely resembling natural feminine care products. You would think I would be able to make at least one choice right? Nope, not one product that was 100% cotton, didn’t contain plastic by-products or was not scented in some way. Now you may be thinking, why should this even matter?
Something brought you to seek out natural fertility information. Whatever that reason may be, there is something about the word natural that appeals to your idea of good health. So maybe recently you have worked toward changing your diet, you are eating more organic foods, trying to incorporate some natural healing methods, searching out healthy alternatives for skin care products, trying to avoid plastic, reading labels on everything and trying to make healthy sustainable choices for the planet, but did you ever consider your choice in feminine care products and how they may be impacting your health? What are those things made of anyway?
While the ingredients may vary from company to company there is one scary truth out there; most mainstream makers of feminine care products do not list ingredients on their products. I guess that out of sight out of mind makes it easier for us to unconsciously feel it is ok to purchase these items, after all they are really the only choice we have when shopping at a local store. If you live rurally your options are slim on finding any natural feminine care products.
I discovered that most companies that make tampons do disclose tampon ingredients, though some are vague like fiber finishes or fragrance; those ingredients are not listed specifically. For example, we have no idea what chemicals were used to make up the fragrance. The reason these ingredients were made known is because of the severe risk of death due to Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS). Because tampons are worn vaginally for long periods of time there is a potential risk for TSS. TSS is a bacterial infection that has been linked to making tampons more absorbent. “The risk of TSS increases with higher absorbency”-Tampax Tampon label
Known ingredients in tampons include: cotton, rayon, polyester, propylene, polyethylene and fiber finishes.
Non-organic Conventionally Grown Cotton
Polypropylene and Polyethylene
Dioxin is a group of highly toxic chemicals that are a by-product of industrial processing using chlorine to manufacture herbicides and pesticides, process pulp and bleach paper products (including the raw materials for feminine care products) as well as incinerate waste. Dioxin is considered a Persistent Organic Pollutant, POP for short, that slowly over time accumulates in our bodies. This pollutant is carried in the air and in our water systems as well, which affects the entire food chain and planet. Dioxin is not only present in feminine care products, but most paper products we use including napkins, paper towels, tissues, make-up removal pads, toilet paper, diapers, ect. Many of these products we use near delicate tissues and openings on our bodies.
The EPA’s Report On Carcinogen’s notes Dioxin as a “known human carcinogen”. Studies have shown Dioxin to trigger biological responses within the body that are carcinogenic processes, these include gene expression, altered metabolism, altered cell growth and differentiation, as well as steroid-hormone and growth-factor transduction pathways. This is a serious problem when we consider this chemical may be altering our DNA. Our DNA is what make our offspring unique, damaged DNA may lead to genetic problems within our bodies which can be passed on to our children.
In a study using monkeys it was shown that Dioxin increased the severity and growth of endometrial tissues as well as promoted survival of endometrial tissue. Scientists are not clear on the exact connection of mechanism that causes this to happen, but does it really matter exactly why at this point? If you suffer from endometriosis you are going to want to avoid anything that may potentially contribute to endometrial tissue growth and survival! Growth of endometrial tissue has the potential to icrease your chances of infertility, extreme pain and may spread to vital organs, the urinary system or bowels which may lead to life threatening conditions.
Dicofol- Is an endocrine disruptor that affects estrogen.
Trifluralin- this one is also an endocrine disruptor that affects metabolism and the entire reproductive system.
Polyester and Rayon
Rayon and Polyester fibers can be abrasive to the delicate tissues of the labia and vagina which can lead to scratches and ulcerations. The Rayon in tampons has been found to create cuts and ulcerations on the cervix and vaginal walls, especially upon insertion and removal of the tampon. These may also leave microscopic fibers which can affect the vaginal tissues and are absorbed into the blood stream.
A Note about the Vagina: The vagina is made up of fatty tissues and glands, these tissues are highly absorbent and fat is known to store chemicals. It is one of the most delicate places on the female body and toxic chemicals, synthetic fibers and fragrances were never intended to be placed near, on or in this area of our bodies. We need to take care of her, respect her and treat her with the healthiest choices in feminine care products!
Consider this, the average woman in developed countries will use disposable feminine care products for 5 days of every month, for about 40 years. Based on this average, each woman will use 9600 tampons or disposable pads over the course of those 40 years.
Consider the insane amount of packaging that comes along with feminine products. Plastic applicators and plastic wrappers for all parts of the packaging, boxes, inks for printing, and the manufacturing of all of these ingredients. I know first hand that applicators and pad liners do not decompose! I worked in landscaping for years as a garden foreman. I would often find in the compost old tampon applicators and pad liners. Much of the commercial compost for landscaping is made from human waste and some women flush these plastic parts down the toilet or throw them into outhouse toilets at campgrounds. These then go into the making of the compost, YUK! Thank goodness I only use organic gardening methods now! Never flush tampons or pads down the toilet or dispose of them in outhouses! Half of all feminine care products are sold in plastic packaging rather than paper boxes, these bags are very hard to recycle.
Now consider the amount of raw materials that it takes to produce these products and packaging. Then there is the long and toxic processes to manufacture them. Between 1998 and 1999 the Center for Marine Conservation stated that 170,000 tampon applicators were collected along U.S. coastal areas. Waste consultant Franklin Associates noted that in 1998 6.5 billion tampons, and 13.5 billion sanitary pads plus all of their packaging ends up in landfills and sewer systems. 1998 was 13 years ago, think how much the population has increased by now, the numbers may be double by now. According to information provided by Wikipedia on sanitary pads alone, “The high plastic content of these products ensures they remain in our environment for centuries as they are neither biodegradable nor recyclable. Disposal of used sanitary products by either flushing out into the oceans of the world, incinerating or depositing in landfill creates various pollutants including dioxins deposited in the sea through sewerage waste and air pollution from incinerators.”
You may or may not know it but there are several healthy natural menstrual care products available. Reusable cloth menstrual pads, organic cotton tampons and pads, sea sponges and the menstrual cup. These are safe and eco-friendly, plus they save you a lot of money in the long run. You can find these products at most health food stores or through their websites. You can also find some natural feminine care products at our Natural Fertility Shop. These companies are passionate about women’s health and the environment and they provide excellent customer support!
Cloth Menstrual Pads
You can also make your own reusable pads! If you are into sewing or are on a budget this is a great option.
The average pack of tampons costs about $5.00, if you purchase 1 pack a month this equals $68.00 a month you are spending, that is $6000.00 in 10 years. The menstrual cup on average costs about $35.00 up front and is reusable, this equals $0.32 a month, with only $35.00 spent over 10 years, now that is savings!
Disposable Cotton Tampons and Pads
Make The Switch Today!