Minding my delicate parts: What's in tampons & pads?

Have you ever thought about what's in your pads & tampons? Me either... until recently.

I'd always viewed tampons & pads simply as necessary items. Much like toilet paper after a visit to the loo, they make life less messy. But I never really considered what's hiding inside those helpful companions.

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Female hygiene products are classified as medical devices & therefore companies aren't required to display ingredients on packaging. This makes discovering their contents a bit of a mystery...

Considering the average woman uses more than 11,000 tampons & pads in a lifetime, it seems wise to start paying attention to the contents of what's in contact with the most delicate parts of my body.

i'm pretty sure manufacturers don't have my personal health on their agenda... so it's time i add it to my own.

In recent years, there's been a boom in health conscious food brands & restaurants. We've started to connect how we feel with the food we eat. As a nutritionist, I can attest to the power of food on our wellbeing. It's amazing. But equally important to what we ingest is the quality of the products we use on our skin. This means shampoo, body lotion, deodorant, makeup AND pads & tampons. 

Why?

Healthy bodies take what's consumed orally through a cleverly designed filtering system, which includes our liver, kidneys & digestive system & allow only suitable substances into the bloodstream. Anything unsuitable is eliminated via sweat, stool & urine. What is absorbed through the skin is absorbed directly into the bloodstream. #nofilter

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Our skin is the body's largest organ. It's there to protect us. It interacts with our environment outside AND inside the body. Skin is thinner around our delicate lady parts & more absorbent compared to other parts of the body, due to many tiny blood vessels very close to the skin's surface. 

Some studies have shown that certain medicines are absorbed better via vaginal application versus orally. One such study showed a 10x increase of estrogen levels in the bloodstream after vaginal application as compared to when orally applied. And who can forget stories of teenagers & vodka-soaked tampons. Not recommended...

These are reasons enough for me to start caring about what's in my feminine hygiene products. 

Little research has been done in the area of women's health & the toxins in hygiene products. Even less research has been conducted on this issue with regards to long-term health. Some health experts believe this is a ticking time bomb for women. 

Thankfully in March 2015, US Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney passed the Robin Danielson Feminine Hygiene Product Safety Act. It requires manufacturers to clearly disclose ingredients used in feminine hygiene products. It also establishes a program of research on the risks posed by the presence of toxins, especially dioxins, synthetic fibers, chemical fragrances & other ingredients. With hope, this research will evidence any correlations between chemicals, toxins & reproductive health issues like endometriosis, estrogen-based cancers (cervical/ovarian/breast), thrush, allergies & infertility.

We don't have to wait years for study results to make wiser choices. We already know the majority of pads & tampons on the market contain chemicals. Most bleach their products, a process that leaves behind dioxins & many use synthetic fibers & other fragrances. Why take any risks?

Interest in menstrual health & safe feminine hygiene products is growing. Consumers are demanding that companies produce safer products & our non-toxic options are increasing. If you haven't already, I urge you to join me in using 100% organic cotton tampons & pads or even reusable fabric pads or menstrual cups.

Check out your products & switch to something different if you're unsure of what's in them!