It happens to women around the world: every month, your period pays you a visit. Though you have all the reasons to celebrate your monthly period, you still need to use some form of protection during your period, and what doesn’t seem quite fair is that manufacturers of feminine products clearly have a captive audience. Does that mean they have the right to not disclose what ingredients are in tampons and pads? No. However, when you pick up a box of tampons, the back will probably read “may contain” or may not have a list of ingredients at all.
In most feminine products on the market, there is a presence of dioxin, synthetic fibers, chemical fragrances and many other unknown substances. There is not sufficient research on the potentially harmful side effects of exposure to the harsh components of feminine hygiene products. The Environmental Protection Agency and the International Agency for Research on Cancer (a part of the World Health Organization) have openly stated that dioxins are a probable human carcinogen. On average, a woman may use 16,800 tampons in her lifetime, unaware of the ingredients to which she is exposing one of the most absorptive and sensitive parts of her body.
The necessity of protection while on your period provides urgency for alternatives to those chemical-ridden tampons and pads on the market. Thankfully, with more advocacies for the growing problem, there are safer options.
1. Organic feminine products
With the growing organic industry, now there are are also organic feminine hygiene options. The allure of these products is that they have no synthetic pesticide residue, fragrances, dyes, chlorine and unpronounceable ingredients. The best part of the whole organic industry is that all the ingredients are listed on the package. L. brand offers a variety of options for organic cotton tampons and pads. The products only contain GOTS certified TCF Organic Cotton, per advertisement, and the tampon applicators are made from plastic. In addition, they are made with plant-based materials and are hypoallergenic.
As if informing customers of exactly what they are getting with their product isn’t enough, L. wanted to give back even more. They have a one-for-one program with all of their products, including safe, organic condoms, in which every time you buy a product from L., one is donated to a female entrepreneur in a developing countries. L. products are available at Target and through a subscription on their website.
Another safe organic option is Seventh Generation. They, too, offer a variety of feminine products that all contain organic cotton. Seventh Generation even provides the environmentally friendly option of applicator-free tampons, which eliminates the need for plastic. Their packaging also contains all the ingredients that were used to manufacture the tampons and pads. Their products can also be found at Target, Walgreens and through various online retailers.
2. Menstrual cups
While the first menstrual cup was invented in 1937, it didn’t grow in popularity until the last decade. A menstrual cup is a small cup that is used to collect blood during your period and only needs to be emptied at least twice in a 24-hour time frame. The design is pretty simple and easy to use. The Diva Cup and the Lunette are two of the most popular options for menstrual cups, but there are dozens of choices.
Menstrual cups are made from healthcare grade silicone, do not contain latex, plastic, BPA or acyclic and are free of colors, fragrances and dyes, eliminating concerns over what ingredients you are using in your body. As an added bonus, because a menstrual cup is reusable and rarely needs to be replaced, there is no waste to fill up the landfills and you’ll be saving money. Menstrual cups are available at most retailers and online.
3. Reusable pads and tampons
Using reusable pads and tampons is a win-win-win situation. By investing in a stash of cloth pads you’ll be saving money, helping the environment and you’ll know exactly what is on or in your body. Reusable feminine products are washable and usually made of cloth. Lunapads and GladRags are top runners for reusable pads. GladRags offers a large variety of options from day pads, night pads, pantyliners as well as kits that come with a collection of different sizes to get you started. Lunapads also offers many different choices of sizes and absorbencies as well as introductory kits. If you are crafty and feel up to it, you can even make your own and really save some cash.
Reusable tampons are a little more of a taboo but they do exist. There are several Etsy listings offering washable tampons. The tampons are similar to the pads in the respect that you use them and then wash them. They are made with cotton and hemp, and can come in a variety of absorbencies similar to disposable tampons. As with reusable pads, you can also make your own reusable tampons, if you’re up to the task. While reusable pads and tampons aren’t sold at mass retailers, they are easily accessible online.
4. Period undies
You can eliminate bulky pads and shifty tampons, help the environment, save money and skip the chemicals with wearable period panties. Period underwear are simply underwear you would wear during that time of month without having to worry about any additional products or mishaps. Thinx and Modibodi are two options for period panties. Thinx offers a wide selection of undies ranging from sport, bikini to thongs and sexy lingerie. Modibodi also offers different styles and absorbencies.
The undies are made with the same materials as your normal-wear skivvies, so no worries about what’s going on your body. If going commando is more your style, you don’t have to give that up when Aunt Flo is paying a visit. Dear Kate makes a pair of yoga pants specifically designed to wear during your period. The undies (and yoga pants) are washable just like all your other panties. Period underwear is a great alternative to the chemicals in regular tampons and pads. Most period undies are available online.
There is hope on the horizon for requiring FDA regulations for feminine products. In May, women rallied in Washington DC for the cause and raise more awareness for the dangers of the ingredients in tampons and pads. Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney also reintroduced her bill that outlines the research into the harmful chemicals women are being exposed to. Time and continued awareness will eventually bring the issue of women unknowingly using chemical-ridden feminine products to an end. In the mean time, opting for safer feminine hygiene options will help grow the businesses that do care about female health.