Have you ever thought about what your tampons/pads are made of? I had not until recently. I was strolling down the beauty isle of my local organic market, when a tampon box with the slogan “100% cotton…Totally Chlorine Free…Perfume Free…” caught my eye. The first thing that crossed my mind was, “Chlorine!?” I immediately picked up the box, read the label, purchased the item, and came home to do my research. Apparently, since the 1980’s consumer groups in the U.S. have attempted to get clarification on what goes into tampons, sanitary napkins and wipes that we use regularly. Their attempts have been unsuccessful, since the manufacturers of pads and tampons are approved and regulated by the FDA as medical devices, and full disclosure to the public is not required.
Looking into the popular brands we see today, Always, Tampax, Kotex, etc. some of the ingredients listed include: cotton, rayon, “pigments of color,” polyester, and sometimes Fragrance (which is often labeled). The material rayon used by most manufacturers is a synthetic fiber derived from bleaching wood pulp, which creates a chemical known as dioxin. Dioxin is a known carcinogen, and has been linked to many health related issues such as, infertility, and developmental problems. The purpose of the bleaching (chlorine) is to kill the bacteria on the cotton of the feminine hygiene product. The FDA reports that the levels of dioxin that can be found in these products do not pose a health issue, as the levels are low. However, think about how often women use tampons, and pads, throughout their lifetime. Especially women who get their period on a monthly basis lasting for 5-7 days! Just calculate how many days that comes out to during a woman’s pre-menopausal year…wow! Vaginas are surrounded by mucus membranes that can quickly absorb elements, which travel into our blood stream. There have been questions that have not been clearly answered as to whether or not there is a connection between the ingredients found in tampons, and Toxic Shock Syndrome. The mere thought that more research could reveal a connection between dioxin and toxic shock syndrome or cancer is quite horrifying.
Carcinogenic and substances we know little about should be avoided as much as possible. Of course, humans come into contact with a number of other carcinogens on a daily basis, but I believe it is important for us to avoid objects that are known to be carcinogenic to the best of our ability. I would rather steer toward a brand that focuses on avoiding toxic compounds and carcinogens. Natracare tampons use organic cotton, are fragrance free, and they avoid chlorine and dioxin. They use an oxygen bleaching process from hydrogen peroxide, which is the safest for the environment as well as for the women using the product. This brand has been around since 1989 and has won various awards, such as the “Ethical Award,” and the “Women in Ethical Business Award.” They are also certified organic, and vegetarian society approved. The cost is a tad higher, (of course anything thats good for you is more expensive, which annoys the crap out of me). I got 16 tampons for $6.49, or 6 something I don’t remember the exact change. Not too shabby eh? In my eyes, definitely worth every penny. <3 #WifeyWednesday
- Dudley, Susan, PhD, Salwa Nassar, BA, and Emily Hartman, BA. “Tampon Safety.” National Center for Health Research. Modified July 1, 2009. Accessed March 1, 2015. http://center4research.org/i-saw-it-on-the-internet/tampon-safety/
- Kounang, Nadia. “What’s in Your Pad or Tampon?” CNN. Cable News Network, 13 Nov. 2015. Web. 24 Feb. 2016.
- “What Are Tampax Tampons Made of and Are They Safe?” What’s in a Tampax Tampon? Procter and Gamble, 2016. Web. 24 Feb. 2016.
- “Why Natracare – Natracare.” Natracare. Bodywise UK Lmtd., 2016. Web. 24 Feb. 2016.