This post is all about the toxic chemicals in everyday feminine hygiene products, how they affect your body and worsen period problems! In the next few posts I’ll be telling you about non-toxic alternatives for pads and tampons and where you can buy them!
Adverse effects of toxic chemicals on menstrual health
The chemicals mentioned in this video are known as endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs). This means that they disrupt your hormone (endocrine) system. Some of the negative effects of EDC exposure include impaired fertility in females, irregular cycles, lack of ovulation and increased risk of endometriosis. These chemicals have also been found to increase the risk of cancer, asthma, diabetes and even to lower the IQ of babies.
Some studies researching the negative side effects of EDCs from feminine hygiene products conclude that exposure is not harmful given that these chemicals are only found in trace amounts. However, these studies fail to consider that menstruators use thousands of pads and or tampons in their reproductive years. Repeated exposure over a consistent period of time is what makes these chemicals particularly dangerous for women’s reproductive wellbeing.
Common toxic chemicals to avoid in feminine hygiene products include:
Phthalates (used to increase plasticity)
Phthalates are endocrine disruptors, which means they bind to hormonal receptors and interfere with the function of reproductive hormones like estrogen and testosterone. Higher levels of phthalates have been associated with
disruption in menstruation,
increased risk of endometriosis
Non-reproductive side effects include
Look out for any ingredient that includes the word “phthalate”: dimethyl phthalate (DMP), diethyl phthalate (DEP), dibutyl phthalate (DBP), diethylhexyl phthalate (DEHP) and di-iso-butyl phthalate (DIBP).
Dioxins are a by-product of the bleaching process in the production of pads and tampons. (I think it’s scary just to think of these sensitive products being bleached!)
According to the World Health Organisation, some of the side effects of dioxins are
"Short-term exposure of humans to high levels of dioxins may result in
Altered liver function
Pelvic inflammatory disease
Impaired immune system
Up to 50% of these dioxins are still present in your bloodstream up to 11 years after the initial exposure! This is really concerning for our reproductive and overall health.
Bisphenols (chemicals used to manufacture plastics)
Bisphenols include BPA (bisphenol-A), BPS (bisphenol-S), BPF (bisphenol-F) and many more.
BPA is a xenoestrogen; a specific type of endocrine disrupting chemical (EDC) with estrogen-like effects. When it enters into the body, it binds to estrogen receptor cells. It is also anti-androgenic, meaning that it stops the normal function of androgen hormones like testosterone.
BPA is linked with
impaired female fertility by lowering the viability (or health) of eggs within ovaries
recurrent pregnancy loss
high blood pressure in adults
behavioural problems in children
Parabens are used as chemical preservatives in personal care products.
Similarly to bisphenols, parabens mimic estrogen in the body. Parabens are called estrogen agonists, meaning that they bind to estrogen receptor cells and stimulate a biological response, just like BPA (xenoestrogen) and natural estrogen.
Look out for any ingredient that has the word ‘paraben’ in it: ethyl paraben (EtP), methyl paraben (MeP), propyl paraben (PrP), butyl paraben (BuP), benzyl paraben (BzP) and heptyl paraben (HeP).
The effect mostly linked with parabens is:
impaired ovulation leading to lower fertility.
This is an overview of the toxic chemicals to avoid in menstrual care products. All conventional products contain these chemicals, which means a shift needs to be made either by the customers or the manufacturers. I truly believe in the power of the individual; although collective change is also important. Changing your menstrual care products is a simple way to advocate for your own health and also the health of other women.
Lots of love