How much fat is in that hamburger, what artificial dyes those bright coloured candies contain and whether these apples have been sprayed with pesticides. Nowadays, you can trace exactly what you put into your body. Or not – because do you know what’s really inside your tampon?
Almost all products, such as food and cosmetics, come with a list of ingredients. The packaging contains information about what’s inside, including any additives. Sometimes the label also tells you about the way the products have been made, such as ‘has not been tested on animals’ or ‘can contain traces of nuts’. Very useful, this mandatory information, as you know exactly what you put into your mouth or smear on your face.
Can contain traces of pesticides
However, there are no such EU regulations for tampons and sanitary pads. Seeing as manufacturers aren’t required to disclose their ingredients, they usually aren’t listed on the box. This results in you inserting something into your vagina for up to seven days a month, without knowing what exactly it consists of. Also in other parts of the world manufacturers aren’t required to reveal the composition of their sanitary products. If this were the case, a packet of tampons would come with the warning ‘can contain traces of pesticides’.
Both sanitary towels and tampons can contain chemicals and artificial fibres. Some sanitary pads contain the same amount of plastic as four plastic bags. Tampons are often a mix of cotton and viscose (a synthetic and very absorbent fibre, also known as rayon). ‘Synthetic’ and ‘vagina’ don’t go together very well. As the vagina is one of the most absorbing body parts even wearing synthetic underwear can sometimes lead to yeast infections. Now imagine wearing something synthetic internally… But also a tampon made of 100% cotton isn’t automatically a good choice: this crop is often heavily sprayed with pesticides.
Help! What to pick?
As long as manufacturers aren’t obliged to disclose the ingredients of their sanitary products, you could try tampons or pads made from unbleached and unsprayed cotton. Other alternatives are washable pads, sponge tampons or a menstrual cup.