Tampons, pads and panty liners. Most women use them. But are they secretly harbouring dangerous chemicals that could be causing us harm?
Lifestyle blogger Kyly Clarke seems to think so.
Kyly, who is married to Australian cricketer Michael Clarke, explained in a post on her blog Lyfestyled that after receiving products from an organic feminine hygiene company she did some research on the subject. Research that led her to conclude your body could be “absorbing dioxins and other bleaching agents” through the porous membranes in your vagina.
“You may not be aware that cotton (that is not organic) comes from one of the most heavily sprayed crops in the world, and polyester itself is derived from crude oil, and therefore these ingredients are being absorbed by your vagina on a regular basis,” she claims.
“It’s so incredibly important to look after your body inside and out and nobody has ever said they like toxins in their body, have they?
“Yes, we are always making sure the environment around us is liveable, healthy and safe, but the most important environment is the one inside us.”
So should you listen to Kyly’s advice and ditch your non-organic tampons and pads?
Listen: Samantha X on why getting your period is not great when you are a sex worker. Post continues after audio.
Well, first off, let’s be clear, this post was an advertisement. But that’s no reason alone to discount the information being passed on. We have no doubt Kyly would only partner with a company she agrees with, whose values align with her own and that her own views are being expressed in this post.
BUT it does mean that unlike say, a news article, there was no opportunity for other tampon and pad brands to defend their products nor input from experts who may verify or disagree with the statements presented.
Yes, dioxins are nasty chemicals and the by-product of converting wood pulp into a synthetic fibre, rayon, which is an ingredient in some tampons and pads. But US manufacturers were required to change their bleaching methods in the 90s and the process no longer creates dioxin, according to Forbes. This is relevant because many of Australia’s popular pad and tampon brands are also sold in the US.
Meanwhile, Canadian Cancer Society, says Canada and the US’s regulatory health authorities ensure products are safe for use.
“Tampons are made from cotton, rayon or a mix of both. Rayon is made from bleached wood pulp. In the US, rayon raw materials are now made using elemental chlorine-free or totally chlorine free bleaching processes that are dioxin free.”
“Trace amounts of dioxin have been found in tampons using state-of-the-art testing methods.
“But these trace levels are at, or below, the detectable limit and are not considered a health concern for tampon users.
“Dioxin can be found in air, water and ground from years of pollution, so it’s possible that trace amounts of dioxin are present because of the environmental sources of tampons.”
Similarly in Australia in the early 2000s, National Dioxin Action Plan was developed as our country became aware of the risks. Brands in Australia that Mamamia found listed their ingredients, also said their rayon was bleached using chlorine-free methods.
Meanwhile, doctors Mamamia has spoken to in the past have not expressed concerns with pads.
Sapphire Family Medical Practise General Practitioner Dr Daria Fielder told Mamamia there's no need to chuck out your non-organic pads in a panic.
"Manufacturers have to pass all the safety standards, so I don't think it's anything anyone should be overly worrying about," she says.
Meanwhile, Dr Ginni Mansberg, a GP and television presenter, told us in September it was "fine" to leave our tampons in for eight hours while we sleep. And it would almost certainly not lead to Toxic Shock Syndrome - another of many women's major concerns with tampons.
About thirty years ago doctors believed women were falling ill with golden staph infections caused by leaving tampons in for over four hours, however, Dr Mansberg said this product is no longer available.
"There was a particular type of synthetic tampon around at the time that increased the risk that is no longer on the market," she said. "Now we actually think [golden staph] may not have anything to do with tampons altogether.
"We can now safely say that leaving a tampon in for eight hours does not grow golden staph."