I find it rare that women like to chat about the products they use when their monthly friend shows up. It’s a little bit uncomfortable and how exactly do you break down WHY you like using what you use? Could your feminine products be making you sick? So here we go mama. We’re diving in and we’re gonna put on our big girl panties to discuss this very important topic.
Are the products you’re using during your period increasing your toxic load?
Maybe even contributing to things like endometriosis, heavier bleeding or *gulp*, something like cancer? Are they creating a hormonal imbalance for your sweet girl who is just learning about all of this? Let’s break down the facts about what we could be putting near or inside our bodies. And let’s be clear…we’ll be talking about all our feminine products including: pads, tampons AND even the underwear that we’re seeing these days for girls that are younger or women who would rather not wear pads.
THE FACTS ABOUT PADS
I haven’t worn a pad in about 15 years with the exception of after the kids were born. You know, the 10 pound diapers they give you in the hospital? Ya, those. I even put water in them and froze them as little ice packs. Oh the joys of having kids! But here’s the nasty truth about many companies that are making these products. Their products may contain…
- Chemicals like dioxin – “highly toxic” and a “known human carcinogen” – WHO
- Deodorants or fragrance – known endocrine disruptors with very few being tested for safety
- Pesticides and herbicides – often found in the fibers
How’s that for a nice little toxic soup for your lady parts?
All of these chemicals or ingredients have been linked to numerous health issues, such as ovarian cancer, breast cancer, and other autoimmune conditions. Chemicals like dioxin are of particular concern for those with the BRCA genes leading them to an increased risk for breast and ovarian cancer. A great source for that can be found HERE. The fragrance found in feminine pads is concerning for me because of the total lack of regulation when it comes to fragrance and perfumes in our products. MOST fragrances used in our personal care/feminine products have NEVER been tested for safety, carcinogenic factors or impact on hormones. This, of course, is concerning when a product is being used on developing girls and young women! And the issue with pesticides and herbicides (not to even mention glyphosate) is a known problem with the amount that is used on our crops…crops like cotton that go straight into our clothes. Sourcing is of great importance when choosing what to use for your family. We’re looking at some serious things like glyphosate and known cancer causing sprays. We’ll get there in a bit!
LET’S TALK TAMPONS
While pads are an important part of the discussion, I believe we up the ante when using tampons. Many researchers and physicians have raised the flag about a product that can break down and get absorbed right into the tissues and blood stream. The vaginal tissues are some of the most permeable in our body. They create a direct and uninhibited pathway for any chemicals or toxins to circulate through the rest of the body.
Many of the same concerns we chatted about with pads come up with tampons. The issue with tampons, is the added factor that many women can react to them with heavier periods and more cramping. Plus, tampons access more vulnerable tissues when it comes to the chemical absorption. Yikes.
- Chemicals like dioxin or rayon – increased risk of ovarian/breast cancer
- Deodorants or fragrance – cancer, birth defects, hormone disruption, and other chronic health problems
- Pesticides and herbicides – linked to higher risk of childhood cancer (of great importance for young girls AND pregnant women!)
- Add in some pthalates and plastics – just do a search on this one for an abundance of known risks
- Chlorine and bleach – bad for the brain and lungs among major respiratory concerns
Hopefully you’ve raised your eyebrows a few times at this point. Starting to rethink your take on just grabbing the cheapest box of tampons or pads, mama? I sure hope so!
AND THEN WE HAVE THE NEW RAGE, PERIOD PANTIES
I’ve noticed these for quite some time and have asked several friends who have young girls using them. The general concensus is extremely positive, But, you’ll want to do a little digging into what products and ingredients are in their underwear. A woman (of any age) is literally sitting on this product for hours at a time. I’m working on gathering some for a review, particularly for the young ladies. But for now, the most highly reviewed (and MOST reviewed) is SheThinx. If you have another brand that you or a young woman in your home are using, please shoot me a note so I can hear your take! The only feedback I’ve received that is a challenge with these is that as periods get heavier, many are needing to use a pad as well as the underwear to prevent leaks.
SO WHAT DO I USE?
Whelp, it’s a personal question but I’ll answer it anyways! I started using the Diva Cup about two years ago with a whole lot of doubts. I was shocked to realize that I truly only had to change it morning and night and NEVER thought about it in between. I will say that on the first day of my cycle, it did feel a little heavy but I never once leaked or had any issues with that.
After about 6 months, I tried a different brand called the Lena Cup and I do lean a little more towards that one at this point. Both are silicone and great options with more companies popping up every month. I’ll be doing a comparison of the two coming up, so be sure you’re signed up for my newsletter to stay up to date on that! While this has become my “go to” product, I’ve also used tampons for years and had three babies.
I am interested to hear from parents who have been able to help their teen find a cup that has worked well for them with sizing and fit. I played volleyball nearly year round all through junior high and high school, and it would have been amazing to be able to use a cup during those long tournaments!
FOR THE PRE-TEEN AND TEEN
I can’t write an article about hormones and periods without just mentioning how important it is that we are careful how many chemicals we’re putting on and in our bodies! I’d love you to hear a little more about my story of our journey in our home too! It is absolutely imperative that we do what we can to decrease the chemicals in our home by using better cleaners, personal care products and cleaning up our diet. You’ll enjoy reading my story to hear more about how we did that! The nice thing about much of our story is that there does NOT have to be a learning curve. Switch your cleaners and just keep cleaning. Switch your soap and shampoo and just keep showering. Switch your lotions and keep on moisturizing. Not everything about health has to be a learning curve!
Back to the teens for the moms here… I started getting my first messages for daughters of my friends a couple of years ago and that’s when I started diving into the options. And can I just say what a different experience it is for young women these days to have all these incredible tools. I’m so grateful for them!
Hopefully, by this point, you’re able to ask the right questions and look more carefully at the ingredients in your feminine care products. Here is what I recommend from my research and experience!
- DIVA CUP – Comes in different sizes and does a great job at not leaking
- LENA CUP – Seemed to be more flexible and works just as well as the diva cup
- SheThinx – Good reports from numerous friends with young ladies who have started their periods
- Rael Reusable Liners, Pads and Starter Bundle (can also be found on Thrive Market)
- LOLA Tampons and Pads
Both LOLA and SheThinx have great first period starter kits. They have been highly reviewed and are a great way to make young ladies feel special while they’re beginning this journey!
WHAT ELSE DO I NEED TO KNOW, BETH?!
It’s not just the products we buy… our nutrition, the right supplements, and using the right kind of health tools can make a huge difference for the level of toxicity that we carry as women. Whether that woman is just getting her period, is having babies, is looking at menopause or even beyond, it’s SO important that we support our bodies in every way possible. Making the right choices in the products we use, particularly with our feminine hygiene, can make a huge impact on health. It might seem hard to believe, but it’s true!
Please reach out if you have any questions about these products or even specific challenges you’re facing in your home. Health doesn’t have to be complicated. And you certainly don’t have to be tackling everything alone.
Lastly, if you’d had a great experience with a product or company in this area, please comment below so we can pool our resources and knowledge together.
My cycles used to be soooo much worse when I was just using the regular old products. A few months after I switched to chemical free 100% organic cotton tampons and pads, my cycles got lighter and shorter, and have stayed that way! I’m convinced the chemicals were making everything worse.
It’s amazing to me the stories of how impactful it has been to shift away from chemically laden products in this area! Can you imagine how many women could have had such different experiences with cramps, discomfort and even conditions? So glad this info is coming to light now and that you were able to make the switch and find a great change!