Hidden Dangers of Feminine Hygiene Products
In 2014, women have no idea what ingredients are in their tampons and menstrual pads. There’s an awareness about the benefits of putting organic and unprocessed foods into our bodies due to the vast amount of information available, but it’s just as it’s important to be aware of the foods we put in our body, female hygiene products that we put in or on our body matter, too. Sadly, there is a lack of accurate information about hygiene products that women intimately use every month in close proximity to their reproductive organs.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration doesn’t require companies that produce feminine hygiene products to disclose these critical details because pads and tampons are considered a “medical device”. Attempts to require manufacturers to provide full disclosure of the contents and health risks of female hygiene products has been stalled or rejected five times by Congress between 1999 and 2011.
Undeterred, Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) reintroduced legislation petitioned by the Society of Menstrual Cycle Research in May 2014. The Robin Danielson Act is named after Robin Danielson, a victim of toxic shock syndrome (TSS), a life-threatening health condition caused by bacterial infections linked to super-absorbent tampons.
Tampons are designated by the manufacturer as regular, super or super-plus, and using super-absorbent tampons for long periods of time increases the risk of TSS. In 1980, a super-absorbent tampon brand was linked to 813 cases of TSS and the deaths of 38 women. When the number of women affected exceeded 2,000, the brand was pulled from store shelves.
Women continue to experience debilitating health issues from TSS that can seriously damage their gastrointestinal, muscular, central nervous system and other vital organs. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one to two of every 100,000 women between the ages of 15 to 44 years old will be diagnosed with TSS each year. Common symptoms are fever of a 102 degrees or higher; vomiting or diarrhea; dizziness; a rash with skin peeling on palms and soles of feet; and pale, clammy skin.
The Robin Danielson Act asks for that the National Institute of Health be required to do research into whether menstrual hygiene products pose health risks for women and to increase awareness of TSS. It then requires that information on potential contaminants be made public.
A woman will spend approximately six-and-a-half years of her life menstruating. Close to 73 million women use tampons made of cotton and rayon, and according to information available at Change.org, a woman may use close to 17,000 of them during her lifetime. Many common tampons and pads are made from rayon, a synthetic fiber, produced from bleached wood pulp. When bleaching wood pulp, dioxin, a probable cancer-causing agent, is created. Most wood pulp manufacturers continues to use a process which produce dioxin, although safer bleaching processes are available.
Other ingredients linked to the materials in tampons and pads are petrochemicals, GMO cotton, pesticide residue, chemical toxins and chlorine. Fragrances added to hygiene products are also linked to hidden chemicals such as adhesives, polyethylene and polypropylene, to name just a few. These toxic chemicals are known to increase the risks of endocrine disruption, fertility issues, endometriosis, birth defects, ovarian and cervical cancer and allergies.
Menstrual pads and tampons are positioned in or on a vascular channel of a woman’s body, meaning the area is highly absorbent. When we eat, the enzymes in the mouth and stomach assist in breaking down chemicals to flush out, but there are no such enzymes in the female reproductive organ area. Thus, contaminants are easily absorbed into the bloodstream and tend to accumulate over time.
Thankfully, there are healthier options to consider using during our monthly flow. Menstrual cups are bell-shaped devices that collects menstrual blood; they can be worn longer than a tampon and are not linked to TSS or other bacterial infections. Menstrual cloths are washable fabric that include a insert and pad; 100 percent cotton and GMO-free varieties are available.
Organic and GMO-free pads and tampons such as Natracare and Maxim brand can be used.
Women deserve accurate information about products that could possibly be linked to cancer and other health risks in order to make empowered choices regarding their personal health. To take advantage of the opportunity that The Robin Danielson Act of 2014, sign the Robin Danielson Act of 2014 petition at Tinyurl.com/DanielsonAct and contact the appropriate Congressionl representatives and spread the word.
Lorraine Giordano is the founder of Inspired to Health. For more information, visit InspiredToHealth.net.