Do you know exactly what's in a tampon? No? That's probably for a very good reason: Companies that manufacture feminine care products aren't been legally obliged to provide a list of ingredients on the package.
You heard me, people! Feminine care brands aren't required to disclose what goes into their products... The very products that happen to be very up close and personal to one of the most absorbent parts of a woman's body. The vagina is the most permeable organ in the women's body, and absorb roughly 10-80% more toxins than even being exposed to toxins orally.
Before I get started, I just want to let you guys know that this is in no way a sponsored post. I use Sustain Natural (more on that later) and pay for it myself each month! I was genuinely surprised when I found out the FDA doesn't regulate what goes into feminine care products and, after speaking with a good number of women friends over the past few months, realized that many people were in the same boat as me.
Why waste money on organic? Conventional cotton is heavily treated with pesticides, and has been referred to as one of the dirtiest crops in the world (I mean seriously who wants to even risk having pesticides be in anything that goes remotely near their vagina?). Many feminine hygiene products are bleached in chlorine, leading to the creation of toxic chemical compounds known as dioxins.
The World Health Organization has flagged dioxins as having the capability to disrupt hormones and damage the immune system when exposure levels are too high, and in extreme cases could cause reproductive and development issues. The FDA claims that the levels of dioxins that may be present in feminine hygiene products wouldn't be high enough with monthly exposure to cause THAAAAT much damage, but for people with sensitive bodies, it can't be a bad idea to nix toxic feminine products from your bathroom shelves and purses altogether.
I've always had a sensitive system... To everything. Makeup, food, alcohol, medicine. You name it, I probably have some sort of sensitivity to it (if my body doesn't produce it and it doesn't come from Mother Earth, it's probably not affecting me in a positive way.) I've dealt with hormonal problems from the very start of my period, which started about two years later than most of my friends. I was on birth control before I was having sex, deal with crippling cramps each month, get cystic acne when I ovulate, and have terrible PMS symptoms. Meanwhile, the only thing any OBGYN seems apt to tell me is that I should get on birth control. But the joke's on them! I can't take because of a genetic condition I have called Copper Toxicity, as estrogen inhibits the body's ability to break copper down and detox it from your system.
What if the multi-billion dollar feminine hygiene industry's lack of regulation has something to do with the increasing amount of hormone and women's health issues in young women today?
More and more, I've been finding articles detailing how prolonged exposure to toxins may be to blame for many women who deal with hormonal issues. I'm not sure I'll ever be able to go completely toxin-free, but after learning about the lack of transparency in the feminine care industry it seems awfully dumb not to try and eliminate toxins from that *ahem* area of my life.
A girl with hormonal problems... Putting a tampon... With toxins that may contribute to hormone problems... Is a problem.
My business law professor always told us that we vote with our wallets, and I think that is such an important statement when it comes to working toward more healthy feminine care products. You don't need to wear a period cup to vote against toxic feminine care products! There are tons of amazing brands that offer toxin-free options for women.
I don't know about you, but I'd rather spend a few extra dollars (and get my products delivered to my doorstep) each month and know that the products I'm putting in my body aren't going to expose me to any toxins that may mess with my hormones or the balance in my body.
Companies Reshaping Feminine Care
- LOLA - 100% Organic cotton, toxin-free, dye-free, delivered to your doorstep. They have tons of products including compact applicator/non-applicator/cardboard applicator tampons, ultra thin pads, ultra thin liners, supplements and essential oils for cramp relief, and a first period kit. Choose your subscription and adjust how much of which product you need at any time. LOLA gives back to the community, providing low-income women and girls across the US with feminine care products.
- Sustain Natural - 100% Organic cotton, rayon-free, fragrance-free, no animal by-products, no parabens, delivered to your doorstep. Not only do they have feminine care products, but they also sell condoms, lube, and wipes. Build your personal period product arsenal by plugging in details about how long and how heavy your period is, what products you prefer to use, and how many boxes of each you'd like to receive.
- THINX - Period Panties, activewear & 100% organic cotton tampons and undies, delivered to your doorstep. Yes! The infamous period panties. Do they really work and keep you from bleeding through without a tampon? I have no idea (trying them soon), but I've heard nothing but good feedback from friends. Build a period panty kit, or order individually. They also have great a small blog called Periodical with tons of up-front, no BS, super wonderful articles.
- Cora - 100% organic cotton, made with ethically-sourced ingredients, Global Organic Textile Standard certified, delivered to your doorstep. Pick your subscription and products, or head to Day One for tons of great information as well as personal essays from women. For every month of Cora you purchase, a month's supply of pads is supplied to a girl in need.
I've found comfort in moving in a more natural path with my health, but even if you have no interest in eating a more plant-based diet, getting off all medication, and living toxin-free (like I said... I'm not quite there yet), it's always a good idea to be vigilant when it comes to picking the products you use in your everyday life. The organic tampon debate continues, and will likely continue for some time with the Menstrual Products Right to Know Act introduced in 2017 by Rep. Grace Meng. For now, I'll stick to buying my organic tampons and having them delivered to my doorstep monthly!