Have you ever stopped and wondered what’s in our period products? What exactly are we putting next to or into our most sensitive and absorbent body part? Before my experience with Turning Green’s Project Green Challenge, not only was I clueless about what was in my femcare products but I didn’t realize it was something I should be concerned about.
We deserve and have the absolute right to know what is in our tampons, pads and panty liners. By asking questions and demanding transparency, we can fight the stigma and fight for cleaner, greener products. So today, I want to share with you 4 shocking and important facts I learned about femcare products.
1. What we put on or inside our vagina goes almost directly into our bloodstream
As one of the most absorbent and sensitive body parts, our vagina (and our skin) doesn’t have any process to help break down and flush out of toxic chemicals we put on or near it. This can create an added toxic burden on our bodies. Over time, the common chemicals in conventional pads and tampons can accumulate in our bodies, increasing our risk of cancer, disrupting our endocrine system, and creating oxidative stress in our bodies.
2. Several known toxic chemicals are found in conventional femcare products
Through chronic exposure, these conventional products can affect our health and harm our planet in the manufacturing and disposal of the products. Here are few of the most common toxic chemicals found:
- Plastic: made from up to 90% crude-oil (petroleum) based plastic, most conventional pads can contain the toxic compounds BPA, benzene, and PEG
- Glyphosate: the most commonly used pesticide; it’s labeled as one of the most toxic chemicals by the Environmental Protection Agency
- Dioxin: this by-product of bleaching has been labeled by the World Health Organization as a highly toxic known-human carcinogen. These chemicals accumulate over time and can reach very harmful states.
- Fragrances: a mixture of hundreds to thousands of undisclosed chemicals. Dr. Joseph Mercola states in a 2013 editorial that found fragranced femcare products contain contaminants linked to hormone disruption.
3. FemCare companies do not legally have to share their ingredients
Since tampons, pads, and panty liners are categorized as medical devices, the FDA does not require brands to share what we are using. How can we make informed decisions and avoid these highly toxic common ingredients if there is lack of transparency? A better solution is to use brands such as Natracare, who exclusively offer plastic free, non-toxic, organic certified menstrual products.
4. Periods pollute (but they don’t have to!)
Our periods can be quite the polluting time. The average menstruator will use 11,000-15,000 disposable femcare products in their lifetime. That is a lot of opportunity to opt for a more sustainable, plastic free period and make a difference! The chemicals that go into the final product that can harm our body’s health also pollutes our earth’s soil and waterways. Check out Natracare’s recent #PlasticFreePeriods campaign to inspire you to make a difference.
TLDR; Most conventional menstrual products contain ingredients that are harmful for our health and our environment. By opting for certified 100% organic cotton tampons and pads, we can protect our health as well as tell businesses we want non-toxic, sustainable femcare products.
Jessa K. West is a green enthusiast and veghead, residing currently in San Diego, CA where she works as Natracare’s US Marketing Executive. She is a UT Austin alumni (Hook’em!) and has worked in the sustainability and wellness sphere since 2011 with brands such as Turning Green Organization and Daily Greens.