I myself use Natracare tampons. If you asked me before today why, my answer would have been, “It just can’t be right to stick bleach, or any other synthetic chemical compound inside of your body…” I mean ladies come on. It’s common sense really. Not wanting to be kept in the dark any longer on the subject, I decided I would research what the positive variables are by using organic, all natural tampons… Come join me on this exciting journey! :P
Tampons have been around in one form or another since the ancient Egyptians used softened papyrus, but the tampon as we know it was developed in early 1930s. During the early post-Victorian era it was not considered ‘proper’ for women to touch their vaginal area, so the manufacturers of the tampon overcame this obstacle by providing the disposable applicators.
Apart from the obvious pollution caused by the manufacturing processes, the average woman uses 12,000 pads/liners/tampons during her menstrual lifetime. It takes 6 months for 1 tampon to biodegrade but plastic used in pads can remain in the environment forever, and it is estimated that 5 million sea birds and 100,000 marine mammals die each year from swallowing the type of plastic contained in these products [This happens when women flush their plastic applicators down the toilet, which from what I am reading is a recent phenomenon.].
According to article, The Pros And Cons Of Tampons, by Laurel Kallenbach, “The most urgent tampon health concern is that chlorine-bleached and rayon-containing products carry trace amounts of dioxin, an extremely toxic chemical that is associated with cancer of the stomach, sinus lining, liver and lymph system. Many people are familiar with the danger of dioxins from publicity about Agent Orange and the Love Canal catastrophe. Tampons are linked to carcinogenic dioxin formed during the bleaching process that manufacturers use to purify and whiten both raw cotton and the wood pulp that goes into synthetic fibers such as rayon, a common fiber in tampons. “You find trace amounts of dioxin in some tampons, which have maximal contact with the vagina’s mucous membrane, which absorbs substances directly into the bloodstream,” explains Philip Tierno, MD, director of clinical microbiology and immunology at New York University Medical Center. To ensure that your tampon is free of dioxin, switch to a brand that’s non-chlorine-bleached, rayon-free, and made of 100 percent-organic cotton. Though cotton is a natural fiber, the majority of cotton crops are heavily treated with insecticides, pesticides and herbicides. Organically grown cotton is not.
In the ’70s and ’80s, toxic shock syndrome (TSS) struck thousands of women. The crisis peaked in 1980 with 814 cases of TSS, of which 38 women died, most due to extended use of the high-absorbency Rely tampon. Today, women still get TSS, though cases are rarely publicized. Yet tampon safety is once again a national issue, in part due to the efforts of Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., who introduced a bill to address the health problems associated with tampon use. The Robin Danielson Act (HR 360) is named after a 44-year-old woman who died in 1998 from TSS because she didn’t recognize her symptoms. The bill directs the National Institutes of Health to conduct reliable, independent research to determine the health risks posed by the presence of synthetic fibers, dioxin and other additives in tampons.
TSS is caused when staph or strep bacteria grow in the vagina, usually encouraged by the presence of a higher absorbency tampon or one that has been inserted more than eight hours. The bacteria produce toxins that are absorbed into the bloodstream, which can cause a severe drop in blood pressure (shock) and/or organ failure, especially of the liver and kidneys. In some cases, TSS is fatal. Its symptoms are similar to the flu, including a high fever, vomiting and diarrhea, muscle aches, dizziness or fainting, a red rash, headaches, bloodshot eyes and sore throat.
“Highly absorbent tampons, especially those containing synthetic fibers, increase the amounts of toxin present in the vagina,” says Tierno.
In the mid-’70s, synthetic fibers were used in tampons because manufacturers wanted to produce more absorbent, leak-resistant products. Since then, three of the four problematic synthetics have been eliminated from tampons. “The only one left is viscose rayon,” Tierno says.
To minimize your risk of contracting TSS, choose a tampon made of 100 percent cotton, preferably organic. “You’re at the lowest risk possible with cotton,” says Tierno. “In my research, every synthetic fiber amplified toxin development, whereas cotton did not.”
Most precautions for guarding against TSS are simple, says holistic nurse practitioner Pam Chandler, a specialist in women’s health care. Wear a tampon for a maximum of six to eight hours to avoid bacterial growth. However, she recommends leaving it in for at least two hours. “If you remove a tampon too soon, it won’t be saturated,” she says. “Then you risk scraping the dry, fragmented cotton across the vaginal mucosa, irritating it and setting the scenario for infection.” Also, using a tampon overnight, when planning to sleep longer than eight hours, is risky. At night, consider wearing a pad instead, she advises.
Choosing a tampon with proper absorbency is crucial to preventing TSS. “At the beginning of your period, if your flow is heavy, you may need Super Absorbency so you don’t have to change tampons too often,” says Chandler. When the flow slows, however, don’t be tempted to continue with a Super because it’s more convenient. Switch to a lower absorbency tampon instead. Also, use tampons only during menstruation.”
So let’s bring this back to me now. I use Natracare tampons like I said before. They were developed as a direct response to health and environmental concerns about dioxin pollution caused by chlorine bleaching, the extensive use of pesticide spraying on conventionally grown cotton, and the use of rayon and other synthetics in tampons.
Natracare tampons are made from only certified organic 100% cotton and are the only fully certified organic cotton tampons available in the world today. They are non-chlorine bleached and women can be reassured that they do not contain synthetic materials, such as rayon, or chemical additives such as binders or surfactants. Certified organic cotton removes the risk of direct exposure to residues from chemical pesticides and fertilisers used on traditional cotton.
For those who stuck through this long journey into the cycle of menstration I congradulate you and hope it was informative and helpful.