The issue of safe feminine hygiene product options is rarely discussed, but it's an important topic for roughly a third of the population.
Why? Your skin is the largest organ in your body, and also the thinnest. Less than one-tenth of an inch separates your body from potential toxins. Worse yet, your skin is highly permeable — especially the skin in and around the vaginal area.
Anything coming in constant contact with your skin will land in your bloodstream for distribution throughout your body. This is why I'm so fond of saying "Don't put anything on your body that you wouldn't eat if you had to."
Chemicals on your skin may be worse than eating them. At least enzymes in your saliva and stomach help break down and flush chemicals from your body. But when they touch your skin, they're absorbed straight into your bloodstream, going directly to your delicate organs. Once in your body, they can accumulate because you typically lack the necessary enzymes to break them down.
In my opinion, feminine hygiene products can be likened to a "ticking time bomb" due to years of exposure. The average American woman uses 16,800 tampons in her lifetime — or up to 24,360 if she's on estrogen replacement therapy.
And that's just tampons. Many women use different types of sanitary pads, alone or with tampons, and there's also nursing pads.
What's Really in Those Sanitary Pads and Tampons?
In the featured article, Andrea Donsky, founder of Naturally Savvy and co-author of Label Lessons: Your Guide to a Healthy Shopping Cart, reveals how little we're told about the materials in feminine products. In fact, tampon and sanitary pad manufacturers aren't required to disclose ingredients because feminine hygiene products are considered "medical devices."
When Andrea called Procter & Gamble directly to discover the contents in their Always Infinity pads, the service reps could only mention two: foam and a patented ingredient called Infinicel — a highly absorbent material able to hold up to 10 times its weight.
This video demonstrates what happens when an organic versus conventional sanitary pad is burned. The 100% organic cotton pad, made by Natracare, burns slow and clean, leaving virtually no sooty residue. But the Always Infinity pad with its mostly undisclosed ingredients, creates black smoke and thick residue, indicating the pad may contain dioxins, synthetic fibers and petrochemical additives.
In fact, conventional sanitary pads can contain the equivalent of about four plastic bags! With everything we now know about the hazardous nature of plastic chemicals, this alone is cause for concern.
For example, plasticizing chemicals like BPA and BPS disrupt embryonic development. They're linked to heart disease and cancer. Phthalates, which give paper tampon applicators a smooth finish, are known to dysregulate gene expression, and DEHP may lead to multiple organ damage. Synthetics and plastic restrict air flow and trap heat and dampness, potentially promoting yeast and bacteria growth in your vaginal area. Besides crude oil plastics, conventional sanitary pads can also contain other potentially hazardous ingredients, such as odor neutralizers and fragrances. Keep Reading ...