Are Tampons Toxic?

On average, a woman will use 11 to 30 tampons per cycle and according to the Journal of Clinical Microbiology, women are using 5,000 to 14,000 tampons in their lifetime. But did you know that most commercial tampons are actually exposing us to harmful chemicals? We are being exposed to chemicals in one of the most sensitive areas of a woman’s body. Not only is this area extremely sensitive but we are constantly exposing ourselves month after month from the start of puberty. This is why if you have a daughter, sister, or niece that will or has started their periods recently,I challenge you to share this article to help them learn more about how to find less toxic options. Let’s help educate our daughters to making better health decisions.

What Makes Tampons Toxic?

The main problem with tampons is that they use standard cotton. Unfortunately, over 90% of the cotton produced in the United States has been genetically modified to be resistant to Round- up. The main ingredient in Round-up is glyphosate. Not only does the cotton contain glyphosate, but, it is sprayed multiple times during the growing crop cycle. So now these tampons contain high levels of glyphosate and will sit for hours in a very sensitive region of a woman’s reproductive tract.

Tampons also contain ingredients including fragrances. Products that contain the ingredient “fragrance” on their label, should be avoided at all cost. Unfortunately, companies can hide up to 1,000 different chemicals under the labeled ingredient “fragrance”. So we have no real way of knowing what chemicals are even being used.

And if that wasn’t enough, commercial tampons contain another harmful chemical known as Dioxin. Long -term exposure to dioxin, like that seen over a lifetime of tampon use, has been linked to impairment in the immune system, reduction in nervous system development as well as compromises hormone and reproductive systems.

Why are glyphosate bad for our health?

Unfortunately, we do not know the long-term health effects of glyphosate. However, we do know that the World Health Organization (WHO, recently ruled glyphosates as “probably carcinogenic”. So, I don’t know about you, but if something is probably carcinogenic, meaning probably cancer causing, I would stay clear of any products, especially feminine hygiene products that contain it. The other main concern is that the vaginal wall where the tampon sits is a highly permeable space. Highly permeable means that chemicals placed in the vaginal area can easily be absorbed through the mucus membranes, and in turn, end up in our bloodstream. Chronic exposure, like that seen with long-term tampon use, can increase our body’s toxin burden. It can also increase our risk of cancer. The most famous cancer associated with glyphosate exposure is Non-Hodgkin lymphoma. glyphosates can also cause unnecessary oxidative stress and even affect our hormones. It can been associated with conditions including infertility, endometriosis, thyroid disease as well as metabolic conditions.

Why aren’t there more strict regulation?

This is a question I am constantly getting asked. Truth is, the FDA lists tampons as a medical device which means it is not subject to the same regulations that foods, drugs or cosmetics are. Most of the safety control boards are within the tampon industry. This means that they are not required to use a third- party source. Pretty much, tampon companies are doing their own policing. Which as we know, doesn’t typically work.

Should I avoid tampons all together?

Of course, the best way to reduce your exposure is to remove tampons all together, however, I am a woman myself, and obviously for me and my patients, this isn’t the most practical options. So here are some of my favorite tips to help you reduce your exposure while still living your best life.

Buyer be ware:

When it comes to shopping for natural alternatives, you need to be extra vigilant about marketing tactics . The wellness industry has been booming and is currently a $4.2 trillion dollar industry. So you better bet that many companies are doing whatever it takes to “green -wash” their product. Green washing is a marketing technique used to make a product appear natural or healthier, however it still contains many chemicals and can be just as harmful as the “non green-washed” products. One of the best resources to help you bypass the green washing marketing is by using the Environmental Worker’s Group app “Healthy Living”. This free app allows you find cleaner and safer products in a quick and easy search engine.

Also make sure that your looking for tampons that contain certified organic cotton. Certified organic cotton is not sprayed with glyphosate and will reduce your exposure.

Some of the brands to avoid include Playtex, Tampax Pearl, U by Kotex.

Better Alternatives

As you can see, there are a lot of reasons to switch to natural tampons. So here are a few of my favorites. Remember, always look for certified organic cotton when shopping for tampons. My favorite brands include Cora, Lola, which is a subscription based tampon service and Natracare, which is available at Wholefoods contains certified organic cotton.

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Dr. Zen is a licensed naturopathic physician specializing in Women's Hormones and Fertility. Her local private practice is located in Scottsdale, Arizona, however, she works with patients around the world. Her goal is to educate, inspire and empower women to take control of their health naturally. She believes in providing integrative healthcare options that get to the root cause of your unique symptoms. She has been featured as an expert in a variety of publications including Shape, Elite Daily and Forbes.

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