The colour white is a symbol of purity. Virginal white, bright, innocent and sterile. So automatically also healthy. Or not? Because tampons and sanitary pads get this clean white colour from being bleached with chlorine.
Blood – especially menstrual blood – is dirty. That’s the message we receive subconsciously. For example when watching TV commercials in which a clear blue liquid is used to show the absorbency of the hygiene products. (Newsflash: menstrual blood is neither clear not blue). Luckily there are ‘clean’ products to soak up the ‘dirty’ blood. Tampons and sanitary pads which are perfectly white, making you feel fresh during your menstruation. Sometimes even scented so there’s no need to worry about unpleasant odours.
Clean because of chlorine
Let’s look into this a bit more. The clean white is not as pure as it seems. Tampons are sometimes bleached using chlorine and these bleaching processes can leave behind traces of dioxins (highly toxic chemicals which cause cancer). The chemicals can get into your body via the vaginal wall tissue. The body can’t get rid of the dioxins by itself, so the cancer causing chemicals accumulate. Dioxins are also linked to endometriosis and abnormal cell growth in the reproductive organs. Hydrogen peroxide is a modern alternative for bleaching processes.
No worries, according to the experts of the American Food and Drug Association (FDA), the organisation that’s responsible for protecting and promoting public health in the USA. The trace amounts of dioxins in a single tampon are that small, they’re basically inexistent. Hopefully these FDA-experts also keep in mind that the average woman menstruates about 2.880 days of her life and that during that time she uses about 14.400* tampons… And hopefully they also haven’t forgotten about the fact that small fibres can come off, for example when inserting or removing the tampon, and stay behind in the vagina.
* When using five tampons a day during a menstruation that lasts six days – and this for forty years. Other calculations speak of an average of 13.000 tampons in a lifetime. Also a lot.