Why do the ingredients in period products matter?
By Viv for your V
Have you ever thought about how many period products we use? It’s estimated that one person will use up to 16,000 tampons (or pads) in their lifetime. That’s a lot of periods! So why aren’t we extra critical of the quality of our products, and what ingredients are in them? Many people are concerned with the pesticides, preservatives, and chemicals found in their food, cleaning, & household products, but where is that energy for period products? And does it really matter?
The vagina is one of the most absorbent parts of the body. Your period products (16,000 of them throughout your life, to be exact) come into direct contact with your vagina every month. You’ll be directly exposed to whatever ingredients are present in those products, because your vagina is the perfect environment to absorb absorb absorb.
Period care brands historically have used a variety of harmful toxins in their products: pesticides & preservatives to help cotton last, dioxins & furans in the bleaching process, and even fragrances (adding to harmful societal standards about the way our vaginas should smell). Many of these toxins are linked to reproductive harm and are proven carcinogens. Of all products in the world, our period products should absolutely not be linked to any reproductive harm. We, as menstruators, deserve better.
What options do I have?
There are many answers to the safe period care question. If you’re looking to shift away from traditional pads & tampons all together, menstrual cups are a great reusable option that are great for the environment and your wallet. One cup can last up to 10 years, and you can leave it in for up to 12 hours at a time, completely safely! To be sure your cup is safe, ingredient-wise, it should only contain medical-grade silicone. Medical-grade silicone does not contain any harmful chemicals, and can be used safely inside your body over time.
Pads and tampons are definitely still an option! It’s important to read the ingredient list, and if there isn’t an ingredient list directly on the box (did you know disclosing the ingredients in period products isn’t required by law?!), that’s a sign that you should probably steer clear. Some safe ingredients include certified organic cotton, bamboo and corn fibers. Always choose fragrance-free and chlorine-free options.
What ingredients to avoid:
In general, period products don’t need all that many ingredients to be effective. If you don’t recognize or can’t pronounce an ingredient on your pad or tampon box, it’s always a good idea to look it up. Here’s a list of ingredients to avoid: