Let’s talk about: tampons

by | Sep 11, 2013 | Environmental health, Women's Health | 2 comments

I talk about tampons quite a bit, but still probably not as much as I should. Most of us use them, often alongside a number of other sanitary products, but rarely if ever talk about it. So, let’s chat. I want to get you thinking and talking about what you’re using.

Many of us pay a lot of attention to the foods we eat and drinks we guzzle; some of us also pay attention to the types of creams, soaps and cosmetics we use. Why? We know these have an effect on our health.  Sanitary products – tampons, pads and liners – are no different. The vaginal wall is a mucous membrane y’all! It is far more sensitive than external skin and more absorbent to boot. So it matters what we put in and around our lady parts.

Most tampons and pads that are available on the market are made wholly or partially from bleached, non-organic cotton and synthetics such as rayon, viscose and plastics. Other chemicals, such as deodorisers and fragrances may also be added.

The bleaching process itself results in a chemical by-product called dioxin (classified by WHO as an environmental pollutant), which can disrupt immune function, hormone health and has been linked to cancer (in large amounts). The pesticides used in cotton farming have also been linked to a number of serious health disorders.

Although the amount as it appears in a tampon, pad or panty liner may be minimal, the burden of exposure over time is signifcant. Excluding pregnancy or conditions where the period is irregular or delayed, you and I will be using some sort of sanitary product every month, for decades of our life. It’s estimated that, over the course of our menstruating years, we use around 12,000 tampons. Again, that is significant!

So. This is why it’s important to chat about tampons. And also chat about what options we have available that will suit our needs AND minimise risk. Happily, there are many.

image via www.frontierspinning.com/

How clean is your cotton?

Two good quality nontoxic brands I would recommend are TOM Organic (local Aussie brand, doing excellent work) and Natracare. Both of these use unbleached, certified organic cotton in their products. Added bonus: you don’t have to go out of your way to find either, they can be picked up in supermarkets and health food stores.

You could also look into re-usable pads and / or a menstrual cup. Full disclosure: I have no experience with either, but good reports from those who do.


What’s your take on this topic? Found any products you liked? Loathed?