According to a recent study by researchers at the Socio-Environmental Interaction Space (EMISA) of the University of La Plata in Argentina, 85% percent of all samples of sanitary products consisting of mostly tampons and menstrual pads tested positive for glyphosate and 62 percent for AMPA, glyphosate’s metabolite. While 100% of the cotton and sterile cotton gauze was tested positive for glyphosate.
This is NOT good news.
“The result of this research is very serious, when you use cotton or gauze to heal wounds or for personal hygiene uses, thinking they are sterilized products, and the results show that they are contaminated with a probably carcinogenic substance,” said Dr. Medardo Avila Vazquez, president of the National Congress of Doctors for Fumigated Communities in Buenos Aires.
In March of this year, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), part of the World Health Organization, classified glyphosate as a “probable carcinogen,” upgraded from its former classification, a “possible carcinogen.”
In this long behind-the-scenes battle that we are fighting with GMO’s and the US government, we, the American public, are at the crosshairs, and our health and safety is on the line.
Did you know that 90% of our butterflies are gone since 1990? Facts like this barely seem to register to large corporation or to the US Government including the EPA. But this negligence is unconscionable.
Despite whatever the overall concerns about GMO’s, the most worrisome issues are the environmental impact and the pesticides/herbicides and their potential health effects. These are issues that need much further research – research that is largely being counteracted by studies paid for by large corporations who hold a financial interest in GMO’s. It is simply fact that money follows interest – and that money can buy anything, including search engine optimization and ineffectual studies – so Google searches do us no good.
Unfortunately the EPA’s decision to allow the GMO production and use of the chemicals has set us back. Congress passed a bill last year granting biotech companies immunity from the courts. The decision to protect the companies against even larger public safety and health concerns is inexplicable, given the GMO bans all over the world.
My reaction is we can make an impact as consumers through simple product boycotting. After all, this study isn’t the ONLY reason why we should reconsider our use of tampons and pads…reasons have existed for quite some time…here are some equally compelling reasons!
Further Problems With Commercial Sanitary Products
Plastics and Plastic Chemicals
Nearly all tampons/pads contain some form of plastics, plastic chemicals like phthalates, BPA, and BPS.
Other Odor-Management Chemicals
Nearly all tampons/pads contain some types of odor neutralizers and fragrances, which are potentially hazardous.
The synthetics and plastics in the sanitary products restrict airflow, can easily trap heat and moisture, thus promoting the growth of yeast and bacteria in your vaginal area.
Tampons Dry You Out
Tampons restrict the natural flow of vaginal fluids as well as the period flow. Therefore they have an undesirable over-drying effect which can take a few days to naturally replenish after your period is over.
Toxic Shock Syndrome
Most tampons/pads contain rayon, which wicks moisture from the vaginal walls and sort of clings to the tender skin. This material leaves synthetic residue on the skin which can increase the risk of Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS).
The material is often bleached with chlorine which leaves the byproduct dioxin, which is harmful.
Pesticides and Herbicides Overall
The cotton in conventional cotton pads (non-organic) is full of herbicides and pesticides as proven in the recent study mentioned above – cotton is the most sprayed crop in the world and in the US the Department of Agriculture states 96% of our cotton crop is GMO – meaning sprayed.
Tampons/pads take up landfills, cause plumbing problems, are not eco-friendly due to the plastics, cotton and impact on marine life, and are wasteful.
What Are The Alternatives?
There are a few options for bypassing pretty much all of the above issues and still successfully managing period flow. And the good news is all are considered as effective, if not more effective, than tampons and disposable menstrual pads.
These are the alternatives to tampons and pads:
1 – First Alternative: Organic Cotton Sanitary Products
Nutracare and Organyc have organic cotton sanitary lines for tampons and pads. These are still disposable so they still have some waste component, however, they are still better than the sprayed cotton and the plastics. This is the route I have taken – though I plan to try other alternatives below.
(sample of Organic Menstrual Pads above)
2- Second Alternative: Menstrual Cups
Fast gaining traction as one of the most popular and most-effective alternatives to pads/tampons is the menstrual cup.
What is a menstrual cup?
A menstrual cup is a BPA-free silicone or rubber cup that you insert inside and it collects the flow. This does have some learning curve with regard to inserting and removing – however within a couple cycles, most women report getting the hang of it and are very pleased with them. If inserted correctly you do not feel the cup inside at all which is one thing women love about them.
The advantages of this cup are that it is rewashable/reusable, you empty the cup right out into the toilet, then rewash and reinsert, etc. It’s important to keep it very clean and not keep it in over 12 hours at a time before emptying/washing.
It retails for an average of $25 and is a one-time purchase if you love it. There are several types of menstrual cups out there and if you weren’t sure about the one you bought, you can try a couple others. It will still be much cheaper than buying pads/tampons every month! Popular cups are the Diva Cup, Lunette, and GladRags Moon Cup.
I tried a cup once and at the time my flow was so heavy it filled too quickly and I still needed a pad to protect overflow. Typically flow shouldn’t be that way though and probably today it would be different for me. I plan to try them again at some point.
If you have an IUD, or have never had sex, this is not the option for you.
(sample of menstrual cup above – they have a pre-childbirth option and post-childbirth)
3 – Third Alternative: Cloth Pads
Cloth pads are especially popular with women who cloth diaper their children, since it seems natural to also use cloth and launder together. Much like cloth diapers, the idea of cloth pads at first may seem unappealing, but if you research and read about how to wash a reusable cloth pad, most women who use them report no issues.
Cloth pads are made of absorbent materials like bamboo, cotton, and zorb, and then typically backed by a waterproof layer like PUL or TPU which wraps around your underwear and snaps. In addition they can be folded and put in a wet bag when on the go.
You can make your own cloth pads or buy at the store. It’s probably a good idea to buy a couple first to see if you like them and how it all works for you.
(sample of bamboo charcoal cloth pads above)
I haven’t yet tried these yet, but I do want to try it. The only reason I haven’t tried them yet is I’ve had almost no period since nine months before my son was born due to pregnancy, and then breastfeeding, and I had leftover pads so when I run out, I plan to purchase.
4 – Fourth Alternative – Natural Sea Sponge
Sounds cool right? They are reusable, biodegradable, natural foam sponges harvested in the sea and they are soft and used just like a tampon. You insert, then remove after 3-4 hours or less if super heavy flow and then you wash and reuse. They are safe for overnight use as well. They usually come in a 3-size set and retail for an average of $30-40 for the set. They are better than tampons because they are reusable and made of natural materials (no synthetics), which can mean less drying.
(sample of natural sea sponge above)
They are definitely worth a try as an alternative to tampons. Only issues I see are that if you are at work or in a public place you cannot rinse off in the sink there. Unlike the Menstrual Cups they can’t be worn all day so if you are out and about, you’d be forced to change at some point.
A solution to that would be to use a cloth pad or organic disposable pad when you are out and about. So I definitely see them as a helpful eco-friendly and safer solution, but you may need backup alternatives along with them for convenience.
Do these alternatives REALLY work?
Yes, countless women have found all the alternatives WORK and work well with some research and experience, and are simply better options than tampons and pads, both in an environmental and health sense. By boycotting the conventional tampons/pads sold in stores we can send a message as the consumer that we are not allowing ourselves to be exposed to potentially harmful substances and chemicals.
To add a little story here from my personal experience…I used to have very very heavy and crampy periods. Despite whatever the internet tells you about reporting to your doctors about heavy flows, my doctors never found anything wrong with me and it seemed genetically I was just predisposed to heavier flows. My mother had them, my aunt, my grandmother, we all had heavy crampy flows.
All those years of heavy periods I was accustomed to leaking accidents, most commonly in public and at night. Therefore, I used a combination of the heaviest maxi pads and super plus tampons for many years. By the end of my period of 8 days, I would be so dried out, it would take about 3-4 days to get normal, but I felt I had no choice due to the super heavy flows.
When I began trying to get pregnant and learned more about tracking cervical mucous, I realized this dryness was not a good thing and even was advised to stop wearing tampons. I noticed an immediate improvement right away and with that, tampons left my life forever. I knew then there were issues with tampons, and researching further I realized pads had their issues too. Fortunately there are these greener and healthier alternatives!
I hope you enjoyed reading about why we should stop using tampons and pads. Do you or have you ever used eco-friendly alternatives to pads/tampons? What have you found works best? Let us know your thoughts!