I bet it never crossed your mind during your last period that the sanitary products you're changing multiple times a day may contain potentially harmful chemicals. Sorry to make your period even worse, but it's possible. I'm not telling you to throw out all of your sanitary products and opt for an eco-alternative (unless you want to), but it is a good idea to be aware of what's going into them and what the alternatives are. We reached out to THINX and Dr. Angela Jones to help clarify what's in the products women are using every month and find out what we can do if we're not comfortable with so many ingredients.
What chemicals are in sanitary products?
Dr. Angela says: "LOTS!!!!!" Great start. She continues by saying, "The issue is, up to this point, manufacturers haven't been made to disclose exactly what's in these common women's products so many of us use. Products such as tampons and sanitary pads have been accused of being composed of things such as dioxin, furan, and more, many of which are known carcinogens." This video of a standard and organic cotton pad being set on fire might give you some food for thought. The difference between the two is incredible.
Do all sanitary products have chemicals in them?
Most of the pads and tampons you'll buy in the drugstore or supermarket do have chemicals in them, but there are plenty of options without. Dr. Angela says, "Of late, there have been a number of new products on the market providing 'full disclosure' of product composition. Period undies, menstrual cups, and several brands of organic tampons and pads have recently hit the market, offering women an alternative and more transparent option during that time of the month." With people becoming increasingly aware of what they are eating and what beauty products they are using, this should include sanitary products, too.
Is it clear on the packaging what the chemicals are?
Dr. Angela explains that currently "full disclosure regarding the composition of tampons and pads isn't required of manufacturers." Because feminine hygiene products are considered "medical devices," companies don't have to list the full ingredients.
What effects can this have on the body?
Dr. Angela says these hygiene products "contain various synthetic fibres, additives, and other chemicals, as noted above, which can have possible carcinogenic effects." But it's difficult to make direct associations between feminine hygiene products and health risks because the manufacturers don't disclose the makeup of their products. Therefore, there is little research into whether pads and tampons have any effect on women's health problems. As someone who favours a pad that has odour neutralisers, it never occurred to me that there are of course artificial fragrances added, which have no health benefits for the body.
What alternatives are there?
Alternatives include using products with full disclosure regarding their composition. Dr. Angela recommends brands that use organic cotton to anyone who is nervous about the potential effects these chemicals can have on their bodies. THINX provides organic cotton tampon options, as well as organic cotton period underwear, to reduce the need for disposable products altogether. Before you disregard the idea of wearing period panties, read this review!
So the next time you think it's a little gross to use a menstrual cup, or that period underwear is a little unusual, think about the chemicals you're putting into your body. You certainly wouldn't use skincare products if the ingredients weren't labelled. BRB . . . just going to throw away all my tampons.
Product Credit: Zara silk shirt + trousers