Periods can be a pain especially knowing that your beloved menstrual tool may give you health problems in the long run. If you’re someone who relies on these handy-dandy tools once a month its probably safe to assume that these products aren’t actively bad for your health but unfortunately, we don’t live in a perfect world. As of 2020, there have been studies that show that toxic chemicals are found in tampons, pads cups and now the new period underwear.
Thinx is a company based out of New York that has created the period underwear for ‘people with periods’. The underwear claims to absorb up to four tampons worth. What was supposed to be the most innovative product of the decade is now under intense observation after a nuclear scientist discovered PFAS in the makeup of the underwear. To clarify PFAs (aka polyfluoroakyl substances) are highly toxic and have been linked to fertility problems even cancer.
On a global scale, the United States is one of the few countries to use tampons with applicators while the rest of the world tends to use ‘Digital’ tampons (tampons without plastic/cardboard applicators). Tampon applicators are made with single-use plastics that have been under close inspection in recent years. Single-use plastics are not only a big issue for the environment but have ingredients that have been proven toxic for human health. Single-use plastics contain toxic ingredients such as BPAs, flame retardants, and PVC just to name a few. In recent studies, BPAs have been linked to causing hormone disruption in humans. Some of the other ingredients included in the makeup of the single-use tampon applicators have been linked to maladies such as birth defects, cancer, and endocrine disruption.
In addition to tampon applicators, other menstrual products are primarily made out of plastics. A menstrual pad is ninety percent plastic and tampons are six percent (minus the applicator). The lining and individual packaging is all made out of plastics.
Aside from plastics having toxic ingredients, the products themselves contain some pretty shady chemicals. A recent study from the United States found that tampons have ingredients like paint stripper. Tampons also include pesticide residues from the bleaching of cotton. The list of what is really in your tampon or pad goes on to include synthetic fragrance to mask the scent of blood. Synthetic fragrance is an umbrella term that includes over 3,900 different chemicals to create a ‘fragrance’.
You would think since menstrual tools are a necessity there would be heavier regulations and would be toxin-free. Luckily it’s not just a United States faulty with regulation, it’s a worldwide phenomenon. According to Code of Federal Regulations menstrual tools are considered medical equipment therefore has different regulations and requirements. For example since they are considered medical devices, the manufacturers are not required to provide an ingredient list.