Menstrual Hygiene Day | The Call for Healthy Feminine Hygiene Products
Today is Menstrual Hygiene Day – its a day dedicated to discussing the issues surrounding menstruation on both a global level and an individual level. The overall goal of the day is to reduce the taboo of discussing our periods openly with each other, which is important – as women we know that sharing turns into knowledge, and that knowledge is power.
Much of the literature that went out about this day discusses the right for women to have access to appropriate hygiene products. This is important, but I want to take it one step further and state that I believe all women should have access to healthy hygiene products.
I want to continue in the spirit of the day, continue to break the taboo of speaking about our periods, and share information that I feel is relevant to all women.
Mass produced and highly commercial hygiene products are filled with chemicals and hormone disruptors. A quick search online will lead you to a tonne of information relevant to the potential dangers of these products. I’ve broken down the information here:
- Chemicals can be absorbed through the skin and can go unfiltered into the blood stream.
- Skin around your vaginal wall in thin and very permeable, so it matters what you put next to it.
- Companies are not required to disclose the ingredients in their products because they are considered “medical” devices.
- Tampons are made with a combination of synthetic rayon and cotton. Cotton ‘sounds’ great, but consider this: cotton is one of the most pesticide sprayed crops in the world. The white and fresh look of cotton is actually quite deceiving!
- The whitening of pads and tampons is often done by chlorine. The use of chlorine leads to the creation of dioxins “which are highly toxic and can cause reproductive and developmental problems, damage the immune system, interfere with hormones and also cause cancer”. [Source: World Health Organization] Dioxins accumulate in the body and are known hormone disruptors.
- Rayon, the product used in tampons, is a derivative from wood pulp. Some people believe that this may irritate the sensitive skin in the vaginal area with small abrasions and cause our bodies to be even more vulnerable to the concentration of chemicals.
- Many pads and tampons are scented. Synthetic fragrances cause hormone disruption which is linked to sperm damage, cancer, thyroid disease, reproductive toxicity and obesity.
So, what does a woman do? Don’t worry, there are alternatives:
- Use Cloth pads: Companies like Lunapads offer non-toxic and environmentally friendly alternatives.
- Menstrual Cups, such as the Diva Cup or Lunette are growing traction. I did a quick survey of friends and a surprising number of them use the cups regularly and swear by them!
- Menstrual Sponges such as the Sea Pearls Sea Sponge
- Organic cotton disposable tampons and pads such as 7th Generation or Natracare Products
If this makes you angry, that’s good! The team over at Women’s Voices For the Earth have launched a campaign to start bringing awareness to this issue. They encourage you to take action, talk about it, and get involved.
The idea of a Menstrual Hygiene Awareness day may initially sound trite, however, it encouraged me to speak out today. Speaking about these products, raising awareness of their dangers, demanding better options and better care for women and girls begins one step at a time – one voice at a time.
Thank you for listening, and thank you for sharing.