Initial studies* revealed that up to a third of women with symptoms of vaginal itching, soreness and/or discharge may be experiencing the symptoms of Vulval Dermatitis or Intimate Irritation, further research has shown that 75% of UK gynaecologists believe that conventional sanitary protection could be the cause of intimate irritation.
The study was carried out amongst 40 British gynaecologists with further research conducted amongst their Canadian colleagues.
The data revealed that 26 per cent of the gynaecologists who took part in the study noticed a significant increase in the symptoms of their patients suffering with intimate irritation around the time of their period, clearly implicating sanitary protection as a causative factor of their symptoms.
In addition, nearly 4 out of 5 questioned felt that their patients, suffering with intimate irritation, were experiencing sensitivity to synthetic fabrics, sanitary protection and toiletries, and 50% then recommend the use of natural, chemical-free sanitary protection to help alleviate the symptoms.
The story is very much the same in North America, with 67% of gynaecologists recommending that their patients switch to natural sanitary protection to alleviate their symptoms.
Mr David Nunns, Consultant Gynaecologist at Nottingham City Hospital, said:
"Irritancy is a very common issue amongst women in the UK, and is still frequently mistaken for thrush. This study has shown that expert gynaecologists across the globe have recognised that sanitary protection may be a causative agent in triggering vulval irritancy and so switching to natural, chemical free protection may help alleviate troublesome symptoms for many women.”
Most proprietary brands of sanitary pads, liners and tampons contain many synthetic materials that many women are unaware of. For instance, in sanitary pads you might expect to find cotton but what is used to manufacture them is often a combination of plastic based materials such as polythene, polypropylene and polyacrylate super absorbent gel, surfactants, and chlorine-bleached wood pulp as well as the occasional fragrance preserved with parabens.
Tampons are commonly made from chlorine bleached, highly absorbent rayon or a combination of conventionally grown cotton and rayon. Some brands also dye the withdrawal cord pink or blue, a process involving heavy metal dyes, creating an additional problem for women with metal allergies such as the increasing allergy to nickel. Further concerns about the chlorine bleaching process used produces an unwanted by-product called dioxin - a substance linked to cancer, endometriosis, low sperm counts and immune system suppression.
*studies sponsored by Natracare