Detox your menstrual cycle? You read that right. A woman’s period usually involves tampons, pads, and whatever else she needs to make it through (dark chocolate anyone?)
What’s in normal tampons?
Before diving in it’s important to understand that tampons are technically classified as “medical devices”, which changes labeling requirements for manufacturing companies. They are not legally required to list the ingredients. This is why boxes may include a “suggested list” of ingredients, leaving consumers unaware or confused by the ambiguity. Every brand may have slightly different ingredients, but this is a list of the most commonly used:
- Pesticides & herbicides: used in non-organic cotton crops. These are known toxins that are encouraged to be avoided in food, so why have them in our period products?
- Dioxin: one of the “Dirty Dozen” list of the most harmful hormone-disrupting toxins. Discussed more in How Toxins Impact Health.
- Chlorine: yes, the same chlorine that’s put in swimming pools is put in tampons. It is used to create a whiter product for visual appeal.
- Bisphenol A (BPA): another one of the “Dirty Dozen” list of the most harmful hormone-disrupting toxins.
- Rayon: produced from sawdust and used to increase the absorbency of tampons. It is also the ingredient that is suspected to increase the risk for Toxic Shock Syndrome (1).
- Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs): gases produced from certain solids or liquids. In
tamponsthey’ve found carbon disulfide (reproductive toxin), methylene chloride (carcinogen), heptane (a neurotoxin), and others (2).
- Fragrance: similar to beauty products, this is an umbrella term. The word fragrance does not specify what ingredients are being used, therefore making it impossible to determine
safetyor toxicity of each one.
How to reduce toxin exposure each month
There’s a lot of personalization when it comes to how women manage their monthly menstrual cycle, so not all of these ideas will apply. And let’s be honest, you might not be ready to transition to a period cup yet. It’s ok! Everyone at their own pace, but here are tips to help start your transition to a more non-toxic period.
Switch to organic and unscented tampons
There are also great companies like Lola, a subscription service of organic feminine products delivered straight to you.
Choose BPA-free or cardboard applicators
Consider reusable pads
Pads can also contain the same harmful ingredients as conventional tampons. Check out these brands which sell reusable pads (of course with washing and sanitation directions included): Lunapads and GladRags.
Switch to a menstrual cup (period cup)
I’ve personally switched to a period cup and will never look back! Why? because they’re environmentally friendly, reduce my toxin exposure, only need to be changed every 6-12 hours, they make traveling easier, and it saves money each month.
Look into period underwear
Yup, underwear specific to wear during your period. Designed
It’s easy to feel panicked and upset by learning this information. Instead of focusing on the negative, try to feel relieved that you may have learned something new. Empowered by this information and knowing that there is an effective way to start reducing toxin exposure even more. Baby steps, baby steps.
- National Center for Health Research. http://www.center4research.org/tampon-safety/. 2019. Web. 19 February 2019.
- Women’s Voices for the Earth. https://www.womensvoices.org/menstrual-care-products/whats-in-your-tampon/. 2018. Web. 19 February 2019.