According to the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics:
About 43 million women in the United States use tampons.(1) A woman who uses tampons monthly will buy more than 11,000 in her lifetime. You’d think that there would be ample ingredient and safety information about such an intimate and often-used product, but there isn’t. As with cosmetics, feminine-care product manufacturers aren’t required to tell you what’s in their products. Unfortunately, tampons may contain traces of dioxin from bleach, pesticide residues from conventional, non-organic cotton, and mystery “fragrance” ingredients. Let’s take a closer look.
I remember when I was younger, I had extremely heavy periods. Although I was pretty active, I would still be paralyzed whenever those pulsing, sharp pains would come. I started using tampons in high school [I know, I was usually late to trends] and I immediately noticed that every time I put a tampon in, I felt even worse. Though I could move around a lot more than than I could with a pad [which I would always refer to as a diaper], I still didn’t feel as free as those women with the white pants in the tampon commercials.
I remember one time I had super bad cramps and then I put a tampon in. I immediately felt dizzy, sweaty and my heart was racing. After about 10 minutes, I took the tampon out and felt a bit better. If you don’t already know, tampons can cause toxic shock syndrome. According to the mayoclinic, TSS:
Toxic shock syndrome is a rare, life-threatening complication of bacterial infection. It has been historically associated with the use of superabsorbent tampons and occasionally with the use of contraceptive sponges. Often toxic shock syndrome results from toxins produced by Staphylococcus aureus (staph) bacteria, but the condition may also be caused by toxins produced by group A streptococcus (strep) bacteria.
Alanna Ketler from Collective Evolution states:
Almost all sanitary napkins and tampons are made with bleached rayon, cotton and plastics, how safe do you think that material is to be inside or very close to your Vagina? Not to mention these products leave behind fibers in your vagina that can cause bladder, vaginal infections, and Toxic Shock Syndrome. Tampons are also known to absorb the natural fluids and bacteria’s that the vagina produces to stay clean and healthy… Sanitary napkins also contain quite a bit of plastic, which does not allow sufficient air flow ‘down there’ so in turn can also cause an array of infections. Tampons and pads are also bleached using chlorine, which results in the production of dioxin, which is linked to breast cancer, endometriosis, immune system suppression and various other ailments.
So, what are some alternatives to standard tampons and pads? It can be scary journeying to a new product considering we’re all so used to using tampons. The main two alternatives are washable cloth pads and menstrual cups.
I would check out lunapads. Lunapads are designed, washable cloth pads. They are highly effective, highly absorbent, and they don’t cause terrible allergies, or contact dermatitis like standard pads can. I would also urge you to try divacups. They are reusable menstrual cups that have been used for more than a decade.
The first step though is to really educate yourself about the harmful impacts of standard pads and tampons. Trust me, I know it’s awkward changing up a routine you’ve had for years, but it’s worth the change if it can improve your health.