Updated: Jul 18
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 require little to no effort. It's just really about being made aware of the benefits and making a simple swap, so it's no brainer.
Non-organic tampons and menstrual pads can contain perfumes, chlorine, allergens, pesticides and endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDC's) like phthalates and parabens, that are coming into direct contact with the mucous membranes of the female reproductive organs. This is 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 often 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 number 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 EDC's 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 can lead to symptoms like PMS. The oral contraceptive pill is the common medical approach to reducing PMS symptoms, but it doesn't address the cause of the problem and increases risk of some other conditions.
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 a whole range of 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!
Option 1 - Swap to organic cotton tampons or menstrual pads. A super simple swap and you avoid the common problems associated with non-organic brands.
Option 2 - One of those alternatives is a menstrual cup. One cup can last several years and are an extremely low cost, low waste option. If you’ve never tried a menstrual cup before it can seem a little intimidating. I totally understand, I felt exactly the same way, but it's actually a really great option for many women.
Option 3 - Period underwear is also another great, low waste option but I find the quality and effectiveness really varies between brands. I highly recommend these ones from Here and After. I've tried several different types of period underwear and these are by far the best I've found. The style is comfortable and looks nice but even more importantly, the absorbent section goes all the way from the front to the back so you can feel much more secure and confident even on the heavier days, which is one of the things I found was lacking with most other brands. You can get 5% off your total order at Here and After by using the code RITUAL.
There are very few regulations placed on feminine hygiene products even though links that have been drawn between many different health conditions. Regulatory and government bodies have done little to assess these risks further.
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 simple lifestyle changes like this.