There are chemicals in our household cleaners, our food, our water, our mattresses and even our shampoo. Chemicals in products we use every day are linked to rising rates of diseases including obesity, diabetes, thyroid diseases, behavioral problems, cancers and more. Unfortunately, these sneaky toxicants are also hiding in feminine care products. Unregulated harmful chemicals are found in many feminine care products such as pads, tampons, wipes, sprays, douche and anti-itch creams. Such toxic exposures have been associated with numerous health problems including an increased risk of breast cancer, reproductive problems, disruption of hormones and allergic reactions.
Exposure to chemicals in these products is widespread. In the U.S., up to 86% of women use tampons and 10-40% of women use sprays, washes, douches and wipes. Even more concerning, these toxic products are coming into contact with one of the most absorptive tissues in women’s bodies. In fact, many medications are given vaginally because the drug quickly enters the bloodstream through the vaginal skin without having to undergo extensive metabolism and detoxification by the body first.
What is Hiding in Feminine Care Products?
Women’s Voices of the Earth recently released a report exposing numerous harmful chemicals lurking in feminine care products. Many feminine care products including tampons and pads were found to contain dioxins, furans and pesticide residues that have been associated with reproductive harm, endocrine disruption and cancers. Allergens and irritants like formaldehyde were also found.
Little Accountability to the Consumer
A lack of government oversight allows toxic chemicals to be legally used in all kinds of personal care products without pre-market safety testing. There are no legal requirements for disclosure of ingredients in tampons and pads, making it difficult for even the most savvy consumer to decipher the full extent of potential carcinogens, reproductive toxins, endocrine disruptors and allergens in her feminine care products.
- Tampons and pads are regulated as medical devices so companies are not required to disclose any ingredients of these products.
- Although fragrance can refer to a potentially dangerous mix of any of more than 3,000 different chemicals including carcinogens, allergens, irritants and endocrine disruptors, it is not legally required that companies disclose these ingredients.
- Regulation does not require manufacturers to prove that the chemicals they use in their products are safe.
What can you do?
Clearly, there is no place for unregulated toxic chemicals in feminine care and other personal care products! Empower yourself with knowledge and take these steps to protect your health and the health of the planet!
- Look for un-scented/fragrance free, chlorine-free bleached or unbleached cotton tampons, pads and pantyliners. You want the brand disclose all ingredients including those in a product’s fragrance.
- Some brands: Natracare, Seventh Generation, and Lunapads for a reusable option, or check out this list.
- Menstrual cups are another safe, environmentally friendly and pretty easy to use option once you get used to them.
- Lunette and the Diva Cup are both silicon options that have a few shape/size differences which work for different women.
- Minimize use of products for vaginal care and feminine hygiene.
- Avoid the most problematic additives such as methylchloroisothiazolinone, parabens, DMDM hydantoin, octoxynol-9, benzocaine, D&Cs and fragrance.
Check Women’s Voices of the Earth’s for more details
• Contact the manufacturer(s) and tell them to list all ingredients and remove harmful chemicals from their products.
-Authored by Dr. Jennifer Weinberg
Dr. Jennifer Weinberg, MD, MPH, MBE is a preventive and lifestyle medicine physician and the Founder of the Simple | Pure | WholeTM Wellness Method. She offers innovative online wellness and education programs for individuals looking for sustainable optimal health and a non-toxic lifestyle as well as health care providers seeking to embrace a transformative approach to health care and corporations wanting to integrate a holistic approach to corporate wellness. She blogs at http://www.JenniferWeinbergMD.com