Updated: Dec 17, 2020
When it comes to making changes that can really benefit your health, there are some things that I would consider to be the low hanging fruit. Meaning that they can have a really big impact on improving your health but take basically no effort to change. It's just really about being made aware and making a simple swap, so it's no brainer.
One of those things is the type of feminine hygiene products that you use. Non-organic tampons and menstrual pads can contain perfumes, chlorine, allergens, pesticides and endocrine disrupting chemicals like phthalates and parabens, that are coming into direct contact with the mucous membranes of the female reproductive organs which are a highly absorbent part of the body, that has it’s very own ecosystem.
Women use an average of 12,000 feminine hygiene products throughout their lifetime. That’s a lot of exposure to these chemicals that can affect oestrogen signaling and disrupt the balance of bacteria in the vagina.
Regular use of various feminine hygiene products is linked to higher rates of yeast infection, bacterial vaginosis, allergic reactions, contact dermatitis and irritation. Over the counter products and anti-biotics that are used for the treatment of these issues can also exacerbate the problem, because of the affect they can have on creating a greater imbalance of bacteria and not actually addressing the underlying cause of the problem.
The vulva and vaginal tissue have a huge amount of nerves and blood vessels and are highly permeable. Various drug companies have tested the delivery of synthetic oestrogen vaginally and have shown that there was a 10 times greater delivery rate of these medications into the blood stream when compared to them being delivered orally. This just shows how highly absorbent these tissues are and how readily we're able to absorb harmful chemicals, pesticides and anything else we come into contact with.
The endocrine disrupting chemicals that can be found in non-organic tampons and pads, also have an effect on female hormones and can negatively affect the menstrual cycle and fertility. They can do this in various ways, one of which is by binding to oestrogen receptors and therefore not allowing the naturally occurring oestrogen to have a place to bind to. This oestrogen is then free floating around the body and leads to symptoms like PMS. When you combine these hormone altering effects with lowered liver and digestive function which is also hugely common, the body is then unable to effectively metabolise and remove excess hormones from the body. This can lead to many, many symptoms and health issues.
The good news is that it’s super easy to swap to much healthier alternatives and avoid some these negative effects on your health!
One of those alternatives is a menstrual cup, which is what I personally recommend. Not only because of the health benefits but also because there’s less waste so it’s better for the planet and it’s also a very cost-effective option. One cup can last for up to 6 years and the menstrual cups we stock at Ritual Herb Bar are only $36.50. That's maybe the equivalent of 6 packs of tampons which may only be enough for a few months supply.
If you’ve never tried a menstrual cup before it can seem a little intimidating and maybe even a bit off-putting to be honest. I totally understand, I felt exactly the same way and I’ve had a lot of feedback from other women that have said the same thing. Most of those women also say that once they tried it, they’d never go back, and I totally agree! Once you get the technique down, it’s so much easier, cleaner and less maintenance than pads and tampons.
But if you don’t want to make the leap, all you need to do is buy organic cotton tampons or menstrual pads. Or there are also some other options like period underwear and washable pads which I know are quite popular but I haven't found to be as effective.
There are very few regulations placed on feminine hygiene products even though many links that have been drawn with many different health conditions, from increased incidence of infection to increased risk of cancer. Regulatory and government bodies have done little to assess these risks further and therefore there are a lot of feminine hygiene products being deemed ‘safe’, to the detriment of women’s health.
In practice I’ve seen huge improvements and lowered rates of infection's in women when they swap to organic pads and tampons or a menstrual cup, alongside addressing any other underlying causes.
This is just one of many small, manageable changes that can have a huge impact on your health.
PMS, yeast and bacterial infections and UTI's are very common for many women but they don’t need to be. They can usually be addressed and prevented very effectively using herbal and nutritional medicine as well as incorporating any lifestyle or dietary changes that may be required.
You can make an appointment or drop into Ritual Herb Bar on Saturday’s between 9am and 1pm for a free 15 minute chat if you’d like more help addressing any issues with PMS, urinary tract infections, yeast infections, hormonal headaches or breakouts. You can also book a free 15-minute appointment over the phone if you aren’t able to make it in person and would like to have a chat about how I may be able to help.