What's in Your Tampon?

When it comes to periods, most people are concerned with what’s coming out of them, not what’s going in. The only thing I’ve ever questioned about tampons and pads are their extremely high prices. Recently, however, activists have been demanding an answer to an important question that most never even think to consider: What exactly is in our menstrual products?

Because the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates menstrual products as medical devices, companies are not required to enclose a full list of ingredients on their boxes. Most menstrual product boxes, therefore, don’t actually include this information. The box of tampons I’m currently using, for example, states, “Ingredients (May Contain): Cotton, Rayon, Polyester, Polypropylene, Polyethylene, fiber finishes.” The word that we should be concerned about here is ‘may’.

Some studies suggest that the bleaching process can produce a toxin called dioxin, which has been linked to increased cancer risks and infertility. While companies now use chlorine-free bleaching methods to decrease this risk, small levels of dioxin can still be detected in tampons. The FDA has stated that these levels are less than what people are exposed to from just the environment and everyday life. However, there are still concerns when this toxin is in direct contact with vaginal tissue and reproductive organs.

In May 2017, U.S. Representative Grace Meng introduced the “Menstrual Products Right to Know Act,” which is a bill that, if passed, would require all menstrual products, including tampons, pads, menstrual cups and douches, to have a full list of ingredients on their label. While this bill has only just been introduced, it is an important step in changing how menstrual products are regulated.

Society has taught people that periods are something to be ashamed of, limiting open discussion and transparency when it comes to menstrual products. Regardless of whether or not our tampons are slowly killing us, it is vital to have public conversations about periods, full ingredient lists printed on menstrual product boxes, and extensive scientific research on risk factors. Period.

Do some research and decide what’s best for you! Check out organic tampon companies like LOLA and Sustain Natural for more information.

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