The mucosal lining of the vagina is one of the most absorbent areas of the body, yet women expose themselves to a variety of harmful chemicals through the use of tampons every month.
On average, a woman uses over 11,000 tampons in her lifetime.
Most tampons that are sold in the stores are chlorine-bleached and made from 100% rayon or a mixture of conventionally grown cotton and rayon.
Rayon is a synthetic fibre derived from wood pulp that is commonly chlorine-bleached to make it fully absorbent. Surfactants are also used in tampons to increase absorbency.
These super absorbent fibres absorb not only the menstrual blood, but also normal vaginal secretions resulting in dryness of vaginal tissues.
The fibres can also become embedded in the vaginal walls and amplify the production of Toxic Shock Syndrome Toxin which causes Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS), a potentially fatal illness.
Chlorine bleaching of the wood pulp produces dioxin. Research suggests that dioxin is an endocrine disrupting chemical that mimics oestrogen and disrupts hormonal function within the body. It has been linked to immune system suppression, breast cancer, reproductive and developmental problems.
For a comprehensive article on the effects of endocrine-disrupting chemicals, check out the Endocrine Society Scientific Statement. You will be shocked by what you read!
Dioxin pollution also poses a serious environmental problem as it is found throughout the environment worldwide in varying levels. It accumulates in the fatty tissues of animals and humans for decades.
Tampons can also contain synthetic fragrance, genetically modified (GM) cotton and pesticide residues used in the cultivation of conventional cotton. These can be absorbed into the bloodstream.
There is no research to support the claim that tampons containing GM cotton have been safely evaluated. There is also no regulation that requires manufacturers to specify GM cotton on labels.
Sanitary pads are subjected to the same considerations as tampons when it comes to the fibres used and the chemicals used to treat the fibres. There are different types and absorbencies available.
Most pads are made using synthetic material like polypropylene, and use a super absorbent material that is made from petrochemicals and are, therefore, not biodegradable.
Although pads are not in contact with the internal vaginal wall, chemicals can still enter the bloodstream through contact with the external mucosa. Use sanitary pads instead of tampons to minimise the risk of developing TSS.
You should read the packaging carefully to find out what the tampons and pads you are using are made from.
Choose unbleached and unscented tampons and sanitary pads that are made from the safest material, which is 100 per cent certified organic cotton.
Certified organic cotton is free of residues from chemical pesticides, fungicides, fertilisers and defoliants commonly used on conventionally grown cotton.
Check out Tom Organic for Australia’s first certified organic tampons and sanitary pads.
In addition to the chemicals found in sanitary pads and tampons, many feminine deodorants and wipes contain harsh chemicals and preservatives that can have a drying and irritating effect on the vaginal mucous membrane.
The vagina is lined with a protective and self-cleansing mucous membrane. A healthy vagina contains numerous microorganisms such as Lacto-bacilli, which helps to create slightly acidic conditions that prevent infection. It is important not to upset the pH (acidity) of the vagina by using wipes, soaps and foaming bath products.
Let us all say ‘No’ to harmful chemicals in our lives,
Disclaimer: All advice may not be construed as medical advice or instruction and is not meant to replace the advice of your medical practitioner. Information has been compiled from the author’s personal experiences and own research into multiple existing public references and previously published scientific studies. While all care is taken, information is not warranted as accurate and The Organics Institute and Dr Esther Lok cannot be held liable for any errors and omissions.