A tampon is “a mass of absorbent material, primarily used as a feminine hygiene product.” The word tampon originated from the medieval French word “tampion,” which literally means a piece of cloth to stop a hole, stamp, plug, or stopper. Let’s break this down. The average woman menstruating for five days a month and approximately 40 years will use about 12,000 tampons or pads. With this being said, I think it’s important we know EVERYTHING about them. I mean we are inserting or placing them in direct contact with our lady parts!
First, let’s talk about the history of tampons and pads so you get a better sense about how they got to be.Women have been creating their own “absorbent material” for thousands of years. In the 15th century B.C., Egyptian women used papyrus, while women in Africa got creative with moss. Cellulose bandages were used by nurses in World War I. Women have always been inventive when coming up with ways to best manage periods. In the 1920s, Lillian Gilbreth, one of the first female engineers, was on a mission to create a better sanitary pad. While working at Johnson & Johnson, she recognized that the best ideas would come from women themselves…shocking! So why is it that men were the leaders when innovating products for women? I guess we will never know but research shows that women had been altering the pads to accommodate their needs. Research also shows that patents related to tampons granted since 1976 show that three of every four of the inventors behind the patents were men. And because men lead the tampon/sanitary pad movement, women were stuck with the “period belt,” which is essentially a jock strap with a sanitary pad between the legs. If you are having difficulty imagining it…click here . Long story short, men should not have been involved in the creation of women’s products.
Tampons are considered a Class II medical device by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). What does this mean? It means that manufacturers do not adhere to the same chemical regulations or labeling regulations as foods, drugs, or cosmetics. Testing chemical levels of tampons is done by the manufacturer of a private researcher. So you may be asking…so what are tampons made of?!…
Tampons are made of cotton, rayon, and other synthetic fibers. Cotton is one of the most heavily sprayed crops in the world. In fact, most cotton products are now genetically modified and sprayed with glyphosate, which is then passed on to the product. According to a new study at the University of Plata in Argentina, about 85% of tampons and other cotton products contain glyphosate. The World Health Organization has ruled glyphosate as “probably carcinogenic.” In the meantime, countries like France have placed restrictions on glyphosate in order to protect human health. All of this information should be taken with a grain of salt, until more research is conducted, but it is important to note that the feminine hygiene industry does not disclose the ingredients put into pads or tampons (scary). Since 1997, legislation has tried to pass a bill that would require companies to be more transparent and disclose the complete makeup of tampons and pads. This would require companies to clearly label not only the fabric used, but also any contaminants, fragrances, preservatives and dyes. This continues to be a work in progress and the take away is, who knows what is actually in tampons, and we deserve to know. Why would we insert a tampon coated with fragrance when we do not drink perfume? The vaginal mucosa is highly permeable and absorb anything that is inserted, and this area has a direct correlation with the internal organs.
One way to work around this is by purchasing organic pads and tampons so that you KNOW the only ingredient in them is 100% cotton. Here are some alternatives to the more commonly known Playtex and Tampax brands.
Organic Tampons (Cora): A great brand of organic tampons is called Cora. Cora tampons are 100% organic with a BPA-free applicator. There are other organic brands like Seventh Generation, but they do not have an applicator for easy application and comfort. Cora offers regular and super and comes in a sleek nondescript black box so it can be stored in the open. To make it even edgier, the company provides a small, vegan leather clutch for carrying tampons in handbags. The tampons are packaged individually in a geometric black and white pattern that are inserted in black tubes that look like lipstick holders.
Taken from: https://cora.life/
Organic Pads: It is important to make sure you read the materials/ingredients to make sure they are in fact 100% organic. Honest pads are a good option. Make sure to stay away from anything scented. Scented pads are the devil due to all the chemicals involved in making your period blood smell like roses. The chemicals involved with making pads or tampons fragrant are linked to hormone disruption, dryness, and possibly infertility. But more importantly, synthetics and plastic restrict air flow and trap heat/dampness, cultivating a wonderful place for yeast and bacteria growth in the vaginal area. If you don’t like the smell and prefer not to get a yeast infection, check out the Thinx underwear (see below).
Taken from: https://www.honest.com/bath-and-body/cotton-pads
Menstrual Cups: Menstrual cups or period cups are more popular than ever these days. They are small insertable silicone cups made from non-toxic, non-absorbent and flexible materials like silicone. A popular brand is called diva cup. They are priced at about $30 to 40$ a cup and they can be used for up to 10 years making them eco-friendly. Some women notice additional discomfort due to the difficulty with inserting/removing the cup, but women did notice a decrease in odor with using them.
THINX: “Period panties for the modern women.” This is probably one of the cooler inventions. Sexy looking underwear with a built in pad, it’s a modern day miracle! THINX provide a great alternative to women who have difficulty with inserting a tampon due to pelvic pain. And believe it or not, you can get all sorts of different styles of underwear from thongs to boy shorts. They are made of four bits of tech that makes them anti-microbial, moisture wicking, absorbent, and leak resistant. You can wear them all day depending on your flow.For example, the hiphugger holds up to 2 regular tampons worth of blood and can back up one tampon and a menstrual cup on heavy days. Whereas the thong only holds ½ a regular tampon worth of blood, making it a great alternative for spotting. Also, they are great for the environment and 100% organic cotton. To reuse, simply rinse immediately after use, cold wash (waiting until laundry day is fine) and hang dry. This is also a great alternative for women that have any pelvic floor dysfunction.
Taken from: www.shethinx.com
The Tampon Tax: Also, did you know there is a LUXURY TAX on TAMPONS. Currently, the only states that do not include a tax are Massachusetts, New Jersey, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Minnesota. On average, women in California pay about 7$ per month over 40 years of tampons and sanitary napkins. These products are a basic necessity that should not be taxed. If rogaine is not taxed, why are tampons?!