Sanitary Napkins: Saviour Of The Day, But Not In The Long Run

Menstruation can be very bothersome all by themselves. Period (No pun intended!). More for some people than others. And any conversation about menstruation is bound to include the topic of menstrual products. And for a large chunk of the female population, their go-to menstrual products are the sanitary napkins. Or as more commonly known, pads. Pads provide binding experience amongst the ladies. No kidding there. So many advantages of pads, doesn’t it seem too good to be true? Well, there is some news for you. Pads can be harmful too!

Under The Surface

Sanitary napkins, or more specifically the synthetic pads, are made up of components which are far from organic. Also, the organic compounds are not fool proof safe either. Going through these components, we have:

  • Dioxin: Contrary to the popular belief, the pure white colour of the pads are not due to cotton. Rather, the extra shine white is the final product of chlorine bleached fibres. A byproduct of this process, dioxin, has been pinpointed as a substantially damaging toxin for the human body, if in contact for a long period of time. The pelvic region has a quite sensitive skin, which has a higher absorption rate in comparison to the other regions. This makes the body more susceptible to absorbing dioxin, which also happens to be a carcinogen. Yup, cancer alerts! Substantial buildup of dioxin in the body increases the probability of having various forms of cancer. Another mention worthy fact is that dioxin stays in the body via fats and may remain upto 20 years. Apart from cancer, it is also the cause of pelvic inflammation, hormone dysfunction and some other problems.
  • Pesticides: Now, the first question that might pop in your head might be, where would pesticides be used in making pads? Well, the answer is, no, it is not used in the actual manufacturing process. But the cotton used to fill the pads sometimes has a substantial amount of synthetic pesticides in them, which unfortunately, is not totally removed during the making of sanitary napkins. Needless to say, they have their own set of adverse effects on the body, especially on the internal organs. On the gynaecological front, it may cause thyroid, hormonal malfunction, endometriosis or diabetes.
  • Plastic: The main purpose of using plastic is to make the pads leakproof and able to withstand a heavy blood flow. But sealing up the pad doesnt let the moisture escape, and combined with the body heat, it makes an ideal place for growth and multiplication of various microorganisms, most common of them being some bacterias and yeast. This in turn, leads to cases of vaginal allergies or infections. Apart from that, plastic is the main cause of period rashes and chafing.
  • Artificial fragrance enhancers: Blood in itself can be a gory sight. Adding unpleasant odour to this equation is a sure formula to have a bad mood through one’s menses. So, producers add odour neutralisers or artificial perfumes to the pads to provide a feeling of freshness. But at the end of the day, they too are harmful for the body. Apart from causing rashes, soreness or chaffing in the pelvic region, it can seriously interfere with one’s fertility, as for they are found to interfere with the foetal development.

All the components, by themselves and together, are also a threat to the environment. Every year, a sizable chunk of plastic pollution is contributed by the used pads. 

Tampons too, have some similar environmental and health effects. Apart from that, tampon use increases the risk of Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS), which happens to be a rare but serious complication, caused by some particular bacterial infections.

The Alternate End

Obviously, all this information may distraught anyone who swore by these products. Now the next big question is, if not this, then what other options are there? To answer that, at present, menstrual cups, organic pads and reusable cloth pads are some alternatives available, to save the day! 

Categories: Health

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