In our age of increased awareness about the dangers of artificial, toxic chemicals in our environment and foods, consumers are also interested in natural grooming and personal care products. For women, this includes feminine hygiene products — sanitary napkins and tampons, which some companies are now making in organic brands.
Why would organic ingredients be important in these products? Well, it turns out that most sanitary napkins and tampons sold on the American market contain petroleum-derived plastics that have an assortment of chemicals, which have been found in studies to be linked to greater risk for serious illnesses, and which are known to be persistent organic pollutants. (POPs are toxic chemicals that resist environmental degradation through chemical or natural processes. They accumulate in human and animal tissue and are present in food chains.)
These chemicals include Bisphenol A (BPA), found in most sanitary napkins sold at stores (even top brands), and suspected by many health researchers to disrupt the function of hormone-releasing endocrine glands, particularly in fetuses and babies. BPAs have also been linked to cancer and heart disease. (In July 2012, the United States Food and Drug Administration banned the use of BPA in baby bottles and sippy cups.)
Phthalates, which are often found in paper tampon applicators, are similarly suspected to disrupt hormones. Pre-natal exposure to phthalates has been linked to premature birth and low birth weight. Exposure to phthalates has also been linked to breast cancer, childhood obesity and type-2 diabetes.
Another problem with most napkins and tampons is that they have been bleached with chlorine, to achieve their very white color. Chlorine use can leave behind dioxin, a disinfection by-product. Dioxin accumulates in fatty cells and has been linked to endocrine system/hormonal disruption, cell mutation throughout the body, and suppression of the immune system.
Being that the vagina and surrounding tissues are delicate and permeable, it only makes sense that women would want to keep harmful chemicals away from this area.
Another way in which organic cotton tampons are believed superior to most that are sold at stores is that cotton fibers absorb moisture gradually and naturally, but they don’t have the artificial super-absorbency capacity that synthetic fibers like rayon have, which can lead to the fibers getting stuck to the vaginal wall upon removal of tampon. This in turn could increase the risk of infection.
A handful of manufacturers now sells organic, all-cotton disposable or reusable sanitary pads, and disposable tampons. These products are free of synthetic plastics, bleaches, and artificial fragrances. They are also hypoallergenic. These product lines are mainly sold online right now. As is to be expected, the prices are a little higher than the store-bought products, but the materials are all-natural, down to the packaging.
Some brands you can check out are: Natracare, Seventh Generation Chlorine-Free Organic Cotton Tampons, Dr. Mercola’s Premium Feminine Care products, and Orchidea Organic.
In using these products, you will not only be doing right by your body, but you will help the environment, as well.
By Lisa Pecos