For women, When you hit your specific time of the month, you will dash to ‘healthy’ tampons. You try hard to eat more natural and high fiber foods to avoid your stomach bloating, hormonal breakout and other way to put your PMS things at bay.
However, how to choose the ‘healthy’ tampon? Is that even exist? Because the common ingredients of tampons are cotton or rayon or other pulp fiber. Of do we, women, just switch our tampon to the old time when women wore normal fabric to absorb their blood flow?
Well, it is your personal to choose normal fabric and wash it after usage, or wear menstruation pad or tampon instead. But, sadly, none in any country in the world, there is not much term regulations of ingredients for personal care products including feminine care such as tampon of any kind and type. Even, sometimes we can’t find the ingredients in the package. This leaves us wondering what the tampons have made from?
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Vaginal area is lined with permeable mucous membranes. This protects vagina from any bacteria, that is why women’s vagina can clean herself without getting help from soap and other hygiene products, but sadly, it can be easily irritated and absorb other chemicals too. Moreover, along that line, there are vaginal tissues which are filled with blood vessels. Thus if the tissues got direct contact with any chemical, it will be absorbed to the bloodstream. Then the chemical will spread to harm the whole body.
Furthermore, Talia Frenkel, founder of brand L, said that inside tampons we can find some chemicals ingredients such as chlorine, fragrance, and other toxic chemicals.
Although most brands did not show the ingredients of the tampons or menstruation pads, here is the list of chemicals in tampons:
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Rayon is also known as artificial silk. This is made from purified cellulose, commonly came from wood pulp, and then converted into solutable compound. In the process of making rayon fiber, the workers use carbon disulfide which is known as harmful chemical. However, the carbon disulfide has faded before rayon gets to the customer, thus the harmful effect of carbon disulfide attacks the workers who make rayon.
Rayon which is contained in tampon normally high absorbent viscose rayon. It is included in four synthetic ingredients which is similar to TTS. The other three ingredients are polyester, carboxymethylcellulose and polyacrylate rayon. Those three ingredients have been banned from the market but rayon still exists in many tampons and as it is considered into toxic chemical, this shall make us worry.
What’s more list of chemicals in tampons? Here are some additives may be used in most tampons include: Myreth-3-myristate as lubricant, Natural and synthetic zeolites which plays role as odor-absorbing particles, Alcohol ethoxylates, Glycerol esters, polysorbate-20 as surfactants to disperse fragrance, Unnamed anti-bacterial agents. Those chemical components may harm the body as it has direct contact to genital area.
3. Dioxin and furans
Dioxin itself is the process from wood pulp into fiber called rayon which is a main ingredient to make fabric and also tampon, this chemical process arises the chlorine. This chemical can link to hormone disruption and attack human immune system. Furthermore, it is supported by the Environmental Protection Agency or EPA for short reports, in 1994, that dioxins can cause cancer in animals and this may as well cause cancer in people.
Currently, a new study of dioxin contained in tampon revealed. FDA states that dioxin exposure from dioxin from tampons today is many time less compared from the dioxin exposure from other enviroments. However, Dr. Philip Tierno, a leading expert on health risks of tampons, explained that the amounts of dioxin are still arise for concern as the tampon makes direct contact with vaginal tissue which lead to reproductive organs.
Meanwhile, furan, or also known as heterocyclic organic compound, is a colorless, flammable and highly volatile liquid. This is a toxic and can be carcinogenic in people. It is commonly found in foods, but Unfortunately, this chemical compound is also be found in tampons. The exposure of dioxin and furans in human body has been a concern as it may be linked to endometrosis, a pain disorder which because of the tissue which should be inside of the uterus grow outside of the uterus.
4. Non-organic cotton or Pesticide residues
Nowadays, we would still find a tampon which is made from non-organic cotton. This cotton will allow the farmers to spray more pesticides and herbicides while growing the cotton. These pesticide residues contain Procymidon (known as a ‘probable human carcinogen’) and piperonyl butoxide (known as ‘possible human carcinogen’).
This kind of condition would increase the risk that the pesticides would be absorbed by the cotton which is not good for health, it increases the cause of cancer, endocrine disruption, acute toxicity. Hence, the manifacture is highly suggested to use organic cotton rather than non-organic ones.
Fragrance exists everywhere, it is basically chemical soap that gives good smell. But this is a harmful chemical we still need to be aware of. Be aware of your scented tampon as it may contain approximately 3,000 fragrance chemicals.
Chlorine is a chemical properties with symbol CI and its atomic number is 17. This appears in a yellow green gas in the room temperature. It is basically chemical compound which is used to bleach, works as public sanitation such as liquid pool chlorine, and also produce small amount dioxin when it is working.
So, it will be double chemical compounds in one work. Unfortunately, this chemical is also contained in menstruation pads. To avoid this chemical ingredients in you tampon, choose a brand which states ‘chlorine-free bleached’ or ‘unbleached’.
Asbestos issue arose in the internet that this is added to the tampons to promote excessive bleeding to sell more of their products. However, this disturbing news has not been confirmed yet. The major disease which is caused by absestos is cancer.
8. Bisphenol A (BPA)
Bisphenol A, or BPA for short, is a chemical compound with formula CH3)2C(C6H4OH)2 and has been used publicly since 1957.
This is a chemical which is used to make any plastic product and obviously it can raise cancer inside the body. Try to look for BPA-free aplicator when you are shopping the tampons. Indeed, that’s the list of chemicals in tampons.
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Toxic Shock Syndrome (TTS)
The harmful chemical ingredients in tampons are the trigger to cause toxic shock syndrome. Toxic Shock Syndrom or TTS for short, is a rare but this is a serious disease which is cause by a bacterial toxins and also any harmful chemical. And sadly, TTS may arise in most tampons as all of them contain at least three or more harmful chemical ingredients.
Although the connection between TTS and tampon usage remain unclear, but leaving high-absorbency tampon in an extended period of time can increase the risk of this syndrome. However, you can detect that your body react to toxic shock syndrome if you feel sudden high fever, vomiting, diarrhea, low blood pressure, seizures, rash on the palms and or sole of feet, muscle aches, redness found in your eyes, mouth and/or throat. Quickly to seek medical help when you experiences one or all those symptoms.
Cautions and recommendations
The general affects cause by tampon which contains many harmful chemical ingredients are skin allergic, rash, genitas irritation, asthma, increase the vaginal discharge, high risk of reproductive toxicity and also increase the risk of cancer of any kind especially cancer around genital area.
Furthermore, change your tampons every four to six hours and leave your tampon in an extended period of time although you feel drier because of its high absorbency, this may arise toxic shock syndrome.
Try to be more picky before buying tampons as the continuation of using toxic tampons may harm women’s body.
In addition, here are ways to avoid or decrease the list of chemicals in tampons:
- Reduce your feminine care products such as tampons, pantyliners (wear it when your vagina is having a bad flour albus or discharge).
- Avoid high or super absorbent tampon, choose medium absorbent tampon instead.
- Choose non-perfumed or unscented rather than the scented ones
- Try to switch the brand of tampon when you feel allergic symptom while using its product
- Choose chlorine free bleached cotton tampons or pads.
- You can choose fabric or reusable menstruational pads if you prefer.
- Choose the brand which disclose ingredient list in the package, and make sure it does not contain as much chemical as other brands
- Besides tampon, pads or other menstruational equipment, women shall be aware of chemical ingredients contained in other feminine care products as well such as feminine wash and wipes, douche, feminine deodorant, and other products.