Yes, you read that right. You may be using toxic tampons.
Frankly, it hadn’t dawned on me either until a couple of years ago. Who would do such a thing, to sell a product to women that would allow them to put toxic products into their bodies? It just seems too cruel to be real.
For me, this realization was yet another eye opening moment of confirming that we truly do need to be doing our own homework.
So what’s exactly is wrong with conventional tampons? Is your brand of tampons toxic?
The bottom line is that nobody knows for sure, and therein lies the problem.
The Scary Truth About Your Toxic Tampons & Pads
Believe it or not, the FDA does not require menstrual hygiene product manufacturers to disclose ingredients or conduct testing to determine their products’ long-term effects on our bodies. If the companies that make feminine products don’t have to disclose the ingredients in they use, how is one to know for sure if any chemicals are used during manufacturing?
Besides, even if your sanitary products aren’t harming you personally, they can still be toxic to the environment. Ever year, nearly 20 billion sanitary pads, tampons and applicators are dumped into North American landfills. It is said to take centuries for them to biodegrade inside plastic bags. In other words, your great grandmother’s used pads are probably still on this planet. How’s that for a lovely image?
It is thought that most tampons are made from cotton-like fibers. Experts believe that the fibers leave potential bacteria-collecting fragments inside the body, which can increase the risk of contracting toxic shock syndrome, a dangerous bacterial infection. Some brands have moved to cotton in recent years, thus reducing incidences of toxic shock syndrome. However, there are still concerns about conventionally grown cotton. It is estimated that up to 25% of annual insecticide use is done on traditional cotton, higher than any other crop. Five of the top nine pesticides used on cotton are known to be carcinogens. Additionally, about 75% of the cotton and cottonseed in the United States is genetically modified. Do you really want to put pesticides up there?
It’s also thought that many feminine care products contain surfactants, adhesives and additives, polyethylene plastic, and traces of dioxin. All of these could be potential carcinogens. Oh, and let’s not forget that those potentially toxic tampons and feminine care products may include bleach too.
What brands are safer?
Right now you may be wondering what brands to use instead. First, we should probably acknowledge that the safest bet is to not use tampons at all, but many of us just aren’t ready for other options yet. Also, keep in mind that organic feminine care products may cost more than conventional ones, but at least in my opinion, the extra cost is well worth it.
Perhaps the most important point is to use a brand that discloses their ingredient information. No brand is going to come right out and admit that they’re selling toxic tampons and pads, but if they are not openly providing ingredient information, there’s probably something they don’t want you to know.
Tampons & Pads
There are several brands on the market. Personally, I prefer the ones with the least amount of packaging, or ones with eco-friendly packaging. Here are a few for starters with a brief description of their products from their websites with affiliate links:
Natracare: Organic. Chlorine-free. No added fragrances or dyes. Free of plastic. Sustainably sourced. Made of biodegradable materials.
Seventh Generation: Organic. Chlorine-free. No added fragrances. (Seventh generation does use wood pulp on pads but not in tampons. For that reason, I prefer the two brands above for pads or liners.)
The Honest Company: Organic. Chlorine-free. No added fragrances or dyes. No rayon, polyester, glues or adhesives. No phthalates.
There are also several that you can order monthly so you’ll always have a supply when you need it:
Tampon Tribe: (This brand has it all!) Organic cotton. No chlorine. No dyes. No latex. No fragrances. No dioxin. No formaldehyde. No BPA. No glues. No synthetics. No plastic. Completely Compostable. Biodegradable packaging made from burlap and recycled paper. Biodegradable polymer adhesive used in liners. At $8 a box, this is one of the highest quality and most cost effective products on the market. For every month of product bought, a daypack of feminine hygiene is given to a woman in need.
LOLA: Organic cotton. No chlorine. No dyes. No latex. No formaldehyde. No fragrances. LOLA donates feminine care products to low-income women and girls across the United States.
CORA: Organic cotton. No chlorine. No fragrances. No BPA. (CORA does not carry pads or liners, yet.) For every month’s supply purchased, CORA donates a month’s supply of pads and health education to a girl in need.
L.: Organic cotton. No chlorine. No fragrances. No BPA. Made with recyclable packaging. For every item purchased, one is donated to a girl in a developing country.
The TOM Co.: Organic cotton. Chorine free. Biodegradable. Recyclable packaging. The pads are made with wood fiber that is TCF sustainably harvested cellulose.
Reusable sanitary towels are washable and reduce waste. From liners to super absorbent nighttime support, these could be the right option for you. Sea sponge tampons are more popular in other areas of the world. They’re small sea sponges that are inserted like a tampon, but you can rinse and re-insert them as needed. They last for about a year. Sea sponges are completely natural so they can then be composted too.
You’ve probably heard about menstrual cups, such as the Diva Cup. They too sit internally, collecting flow rather than absorbing it. They are often recommended for women who experience regular dryness as an alternative to tampons. The DivaCup can be used for up to 12 hours without leaks or worry. It is made from healthcare grade silicone and does not contain latex, plastic, PVC, acrylic, acrylate, BPA, phthalate, elastomer, polyethylene, colors or dyes. Menstrual cups are eco-friendly and can last up to 10 years!
Depending on your flow, THINX underwear can replace pads & liners or be used as a backup or replacement to other feminine care products. They absorb up to 2 tampons’ worth of blood, yet they look and feel like a regular pair of underwear.
Well, hopefully green feminine products will continue to replace toxic ingredients as demand for healthier products continues to grow. In fact, students at the University of Utah have developed a new, 100% biodegradable feminine maxi pad that is made of all natural materials and is much thinner and more comfortable than other similar products. It’s called the SHERO Pad, and “uses a processed form of algae as its super-absorbent ingredient, resulting in a maxi pad that is effective, comfortable to wear and can break down anywhere from 45 days to six months.”
By the way, if you still aren’t sure if this is all nonsense or not, you can feel free to read any of the following articles about toxic tampons and feminine care products from some of my favorite sources:
- Women Beware: Most Feminine Hygiene Products Contain Toxic Ingredients
- The Truth About Your Tampons
- The Dirty Secrets of Feminine Hygiene Products Most Women Don’t Know
- A Question for Women’s Health: Chemicals in Feminine Hygiene Products and Personal Lubricants
Any brand that would allow women to put toxic products into their bodies is not the brand for me. Are you ready to ditch the toxic tampons and pads too?
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FTC DISCLOSURE: To support this blog, I may receive monetary compensation for an endorsement, recommendation, reviews and/or link to any products or services from this article. I recommend products or services that I personally use or feel are up to my efficacy standards.