If you turn over a pack of whatever you use during period, you probably won’t find the ingredients. Try going on the website and looking. You probably won’t find the ingredients on there, either. Try emailing, calling and ‘googling’ mercilessly. You probably still won’t find the ingredients. That’s because most of what goes where-the-sun-doesn’t-shine once a month is made out petroleum, rayon or viscose and treated with chlorine bleach. The Food and Drug Administration considers feminine care to be a medical device. As a result, companies aren’t required to make the ingredients readily available to consumers. All tests on these products are done behind closed doors by in-house scientists and presented to regulatory commissions—without us ever seeing the results.
Back in the day, feminine hygiene products were made of cotton. But, for reasons unbeknownst to the average consumer, companies started using “cotton-like” and “cotton blend” materials. Presumably, to create products that are super-absorbent, and the most cost-effective for manufacturers. “Cotton-like” is simply code word for, “there is absolutely no cotton in this thing, but we don’t want to say what it’s really made out of, or you wouldn’t come near it.” The average pad is made of plastics like polypropylene, and petroleum. These materials are completely non-biodegradable. So that means 100 years from now, your bloody pad will be sitting in a landfill polluting the environment and smelling to high hell. That pretty white pad of yours is probably bleached white, and that bleach enters your bloodstream for a week every single month of every single year.
If you think that’s scary, try tampons. You’re not just expelling fluid onto unnatural material, your shoving chemicals directly into your bloodstream in the form of inorganic cotton sprayed with pesticides. The viscose and rayon tampons are blended with attract bacteria, bacteria associated with toxic shock syndrome. That’s right. It’s not just leaving a tampon in forever that causes toxic shock syndrome. It’s the synthetic materials blended with cotton that attract bacteria, bacteria that isn’t limited to those that cause toxic shock syndrome. Sexually transmitted diseases can come in the form of bacteria, too. Using these synthetic tampons is like saying, “come on in Chlamydia!” Yuck. Most name brand tampons are treated with chemicals that enhance absorbency, and make you smell “fresh”. Ironically, these chemicals can upset the delicate pH balance of your body. In short, what’s good to you isn’t always good for you.
Thankfully, there are some alternatives. Companies that make 100 percent organic cotton tampons and natural pads like Seventh Generation and natracare are readily available online or at natural food stores. Before you shake your head in skepticism—I’ve tried these options, and found them to be just as comfortable, absorbent and clean as their toxic counterparts. In fact, I found them to be better in every way. If I wanted to, I could bury my waste and they’d biodegrade just like the rind of an orange. Mainstream feminine hygiene companies bank on women being too lazy, too uninformed or too stupid to try something different. You’ll never know exactly what’s in your feminine care products, because they’ll never tell you. Shouldn’t that be enough to make the switch to a brand that will?