Conventional pads and tampons are made with a blend of synthetic rayon and cotton. Synthetic rayon is derived from processed wood pulp. There are a few reasons why this blend is a popular choice for big-name tampon & pad brands. The rayon-cotton blend has a better absorbency and is a cheaper alternative, making it more cost effective for the brand's bottom line.
Even though researchers aren’t exactly sure what causes Toxic Shock Syndrome, synthetic rayon has been linked to cases of Toxic Shock Syndrome. The cotton and synthetic rayon blend is exposed to a bleaching process which releases dioxins, leaving these toxic chemicals behind in the product.
According to the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), studies have shown that exposure to dioxins at high enough levels may cause a number of adverse health effects, including Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID), reproductive issues, immune reactions, endometriosis and cancer.
This is especially alarming to women who are exposing themselves to dioxin-laced feminine hygiene products every month. In fact, it is estimated that the average woman will have used approxinately 17,000 feminine hygienic products in her lifetime.
Even if there was no more exposures to dioxins again, the accumulation up to this point would keep a consistent level in the body for years, even decades. It is worth to mention that both the FDA and Health Canada have stated that the trace amount of dioxins pose negligible health risks.
But wait, there’s more. Conventional cotton found in these products poses a hazard as well. According to the North American Pesticide Action Network, cotton is the most heavily sprayed crop in the world. These pesticides remain in the product, and are absorbed through the skin. Pesticides on the skin are just as dangerous as when they are ingested.
Dr. Susan Treiser advises that inserting a chemically-laced tampon into the body is no different than ingesting chemicals. In fact, it can be even worse since the skin of the vaginal area is very vascular and more permeable to a wide range of compounds.
Pesticides disrupt the hormones and throw the whole balance off kilter. Conventional pads and tampons contain a slew of other hormone disrupting chemicals as well. Odour neutralizers, artificial fragrances, adhesives and polyesters pose adverse health risks and have been linked to birth defects, dryness and infertility. The law does not require companies to list the ingridients of pads because they are classified as "medical devices." Tampons are governed under similar regulations.
Companies are also protected from having to expose their "proprietary blends", leaving the consumers in the dark.
Opting for an all-natural alternative is your best bet. Next time you are in need, pick up a box of Natracare pads or tampons and give them a whirl. Natracare has been providing women with high-quality, organic and natural hygiene products for over 25 years. Their line of products are chlorine-free, plastic-free, certified organic, and are completely biodegradable, leaving the softest footprint possible on the earth.
You might want to try another alternative. The DivaCup is a small, silicone bell-shaped cup that is inserted into the vagina and worn internally for up to 12 hours. It collects rather than absorbs and provides leak-free protection for even the most active woman. It holds one full ounce and is perfect for even the heaviest of flow.
A one-time investment will last you a couple years of use, leaving a minimal impact on the environment.