Every girl knows that once you are in fourth grade the female figures in your life begin to take you to “heart to heart” classes or they hand you the iconic The Care and Keeping of You, all in preparation for you becoming an adult woman. Your period is a big chapter of that book and a whole lesson in nationwide sex ed classes. Most girls are taught to start off using a pad when they get their period and slowly transition to tampons, with the added security of panty liners, when they are old enough. Nowhere are we told that those period products are filled with toxic chemicals, carcinogens, and synthetic materials that can give us cancer, give us TSS (toxic shock syndrome), make us infertile, cause hormone disruptions, and damage one’s immune system. Due to the absorptive nature of tissue in vaginas, the synthesis of harmful chemicals into one’s bloodstream is more common than in other tissue sites in one’s body. Therefore making the chemicals you intake through feminine hygiene products even more dangerous.
You may be asking yourself what chemicals are even in period products or what chemicals should you look out for in order to stay clear of them. Well here’s a list of them, that have been found in menstrual products, that you should avoid: BPA, toluene, xylene, methylene chloride, triclosan, styrene, chloroform, and carbon disulfide. A typical chemical group often found in tampons and pads is dioxin. Dioxin is a byproduct from the bleaching of cotton and rayon of tampons and pads. Though it is only found in small amounts due to the FDA banning chloride-gas bleaching techniques, traces of it still exist, due to bleaching (chlorine-free) occurring, in every tampon, panty liner, or pad you have ever used. But don’t let the whole narrative “it’s only a super small amount of an insignificant chemical” make you feel safe and confident to continue to use non-organic brands; “According to Tierno, even minute dioxin exposures can accumulate in the body with a potential cumulative effect. ‘A woman uses approximately 11,400 tampons in her menstrual life,’ he says. ‘That’s exposure to dioxins 11,400 times’”(ncbi.nlm.nih.gov). Some brands have even been discovered to have pesticides in their products. But the names of these companies have not yet been disclosed to the public. In fact, many companies hide behind the vague wording of their packaging to not take responsibility for the existence of chemicals in their products. Language as simple as “may contain” or “rayon and/or cotton” NOT ONLY IMPLY BUT MEAN THAT THERE ARE CHEMICALS IN YOUR TAMPONS, PADS, AND PANTY LINERS.
I know… I’m just as shocked and angry as you are. But I’m here to tell you that there are some brands of menstruation products that are free of chemicals and safer than the ones you are probably using now. These include Lola, Cora, August, Organyc, o.b. Organic, Rael, and others. And if you are still scared a great solution is to wear period underwear or use menstrual cups.