Are organic tampons actually any better for you?
If you’re a menstruating human you’ll probably use over 12,000 menstrual products in your life.
So when I heard that there isn’t actually any research that unequivocally says conventional tampons are safe for our health, I was about as uncomfortable as we are when I'm convinced my periods arrived and I'm in white pants.
Women have been buying tampons for decades, shoving them up their hoo-ha’s and, as long as it's changed every 8 hours, it's all good. We know about toxic shock, but have we really been given the full picture of what's actually in our tampons?
Vaginas are the most absorbent part of our body
The walls of our vaginas are delicate but also incredibly permeable and absorbent. In fact, there's a suggestion by researchers to delivery drugs vaginally, it's so effective.
And so perhaps we need to reconsider using conventional tampons that are full of toxic chemicals. These toxins are absorbed through the vagina walls and there's no way to metabolise the chemicals, so they go straight into the bloodstream without breaking down first in your liver.
What's in conventional tampons?
Independent studies have found that most feminine hygiene products are made with a lot of ingredients that are known endocrine-disrupting chemicals, such as parabens, polyethylene, and Sodium Lauryl Sulphates (SLS) as well as known carcinogens like dioxins.
Tampons can also be contaminated with highly toxic dioxins and furans from the chlorine bleaching process
Even cotton tampons, unless 100% organic cotton, most likely have pesticide residue on them.
“A lot of chemicals [found in feminine care products] can interfere with estrogen signaling,” says Ami Zota, an assistant professor of epidemiology at George Washington University.
Why the hell would someone make products for your life-giving hoo-ha packed with harmful shit?!
Exposure to dioxins and furans has been linked to cancer, reproductive harm, endocrine disruption and allergic rashes. And while the FDA in the US recommends tampons and pads are made without dioxin and pesticide residues, this is not mandatory for the manufacturers. Instead, tests repeatedly show that dioxins and pesticides are found in tampons.
Manufacturers can claim all they want that these toxins aren’t in a high enough quantity to cause harm, but they haven’t actually studied the longitudinal impact of putting dioxin and pesticides into your vee-jay for days on end, each month, for several decades.
It's like studying the impact one cigarette and calling it safe.
By the way, endocrine-disrupting hormones do as the name suggests, disrupt the hormones, causing infertility, health issues, endometriosis, to name a few outcomes. It just doesn't make sense why chemicals so harmful to reproductive health would be included in products designed for that specific part of the body.
Why no research?
There is a serious lack of research and information into feminine hygiene products. For centuries there has been a male bias in health. So it's unsurprising that there is a lack of understanding of women's health and therefore associated funding.
Until the 1980s women were left out of most medical research. Medical trials were done on men and as a result, don't take into account women's unique hormonal systems. We are not mini-men!
Organic cotton products are better for your hoo-ha
Organic cotton is made from cotton without the use of pesticides and other chemicals. All that is in your Periodical tampon, is organic cotton. Even the string is natural.
If you compare an organic tampon with a conventional tampon, it might look a little ‘fluffier’. This is because it doesn’t have a slick, synthetic casing like conventional tampons. And unlike their conventional counterparts, organic cotton is one thick thread of cotton, whereas conventional tampons are made of cheap-to-produce short fibres that can break apart while inside you.
Remember when you first started using tampons and your mum/teacher/girlfriend/Dr Dolly put the fear of God in you about Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS)?
“If you leave your tampon in for more than 8 hours you will get TSS and you will die,” they said.
“If you sleep with your tampon in your uterus will shrivel up like a sultana,” they said.
“You have to change it every time you got to the bathroom,” they said.
The truth is TSS is real and something we should all be aware of. But it’s only a massive issue if you use conventional tampons. In decades of research, Philip Tierno, a clinical microbiology and pathology professor at New York University, has never seen a case of TSS with an all-cotton tampon.
“Cotton is the best possible product,” says Tierno*.
So is it time you gave organic cotton tampons a go?