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My discovery about using organic tampons happened by accident. About six years ago, I was barely managing my Crohn’s symptoms. Frustrated with my traditional GI doc, I decided to seek an alternative opinion. I made an appointment with a naturopathic physician. She advised me to completely overhaul my diet- no gluten, grains, dairy, or processed foods. None of my gastroenterology docs had ever suggested changing my diet to help with my Crohn’s. I mulled it over and decided to get a second opinion.
To make a long story short, I ended up trying clean eating for a week, my Crohn’s symptoms completely subsided and I became a gluten free health food convert.
As my body adjusted to clean eating I noticed it detoxing (in a sense) from my previously poor habits. I became more in tune with my body. I was able to notice how different foods and even chemicals were affecting me. This is where tampons come in to play. You were wondering where I was going with this weren’t you?
Despite changing my diet I kept getting body aches and joint pain. At first it seemed totally random but then I started to realize I felt sick every month when I got my period. I brushed it off as yet another annoying period symptom and went on with my life. A few months later my body literally started to reject tampons. I mean it tried to push them out after I put them in. I really didn’t know what to make of it. It’s not something you just go around asking people about either. I switched from my normal brand of Tampax to Playtex and then OB but the results were the same.
Finally, while browsing in a health food store, I came across a box of natural organic tampons. Advertised as chlorine free, made with organic cotton, and free of synthetic materials. I never questioned the ingredients in tampons. I bought the box and hoped for the best.
So what’s in traditional tampons?
A mix of cotton, rayon, and other synthetic fibers make up traditional tampons. Did you know that rayon is made from wood pulp? Bleaching is the only way to purify wood pulp. Tampon manufacturers were using chlorine dioxide to purify the tampons. Toxic byproducts (dioxins) of the chlorine dioxide (which are known to be highly toxic and carcinogenic) were being found in the fibers. [read about the dangers of dioxins here] Manufacturers now use a safer chlorine free bleaching process. However, trace amounts of dioxins still remain in the fibers.
But what’s so bad about regular cotton?
Most of the world’s cotton is genetically modified. Non organic cotton is engineered resistant to bugs, pesticides, and herbicides. Most notably roundup. [Article here about genetically modified cotton] This allows the farmers to spray the cotton with pesticides and herbicides without damaging the cotton crop. After harvesting, the chemicals remain in the cotton. Pesticides are still lingering in the fibers. You are then inserting chemicals into your vagina and absorbing them into your blood stream. Think about it!
Traditional tampon ingredients
Ingredients in Tampax Pearl Unscented Tampons: [found on amazon] Ingredients (May Contain): Cotton, Rayon, Polyester, Polypropylene, Polyethylene. Both polypropylene and polyethylene only score a 1 on EWG skin deep. EWG lists them as potentially harmful though.
Ingredients in Playtex Gentle Glide 360 unscented: [found on amazon] Ingredients Rayon and/or Cotton Fiber, Polyester or Cotton String, Polysorbate 20. Though these tampons are unscented, polysorbate 20 is listed as a: “Fragrance Ingredient; Surfactant – Emulsifying Agent; Surfactant – Solubilizing Agent” on EWG’s skin deep website. It scores a 3 with high concern for contamination with harmful chemicals.
Ingredients in O.B. tampons: [From the o.b. website] o.b.® tampons are made of two types of rayon and a polyester string. The cover for o.b.® ORIGINAL™ is made of polyester/polyethylene non-woven material and that of o.b.® PRO COMFORT® is made of polyethylene/polypropylene film.
Your vagina is a mucous membrane
Mucous membranes absorb things into your bloodstream very easily. Think of rectal suppositories or under the tongue (sublingual) medications. Rectal and sublingual medications come in smaller doses than regular swallowed pills. Why? Because they don’t get digested first. There is no pit stop between them and your blood stream. Your vagina absorbs things the same way. Those chemicals are going straight into your blood stream. Just a little food for thought. 🙂
What’s in organic tampons?
Mostly organic cotton.
Ingredients in Natracare organic tampons: [From their website] Only 100% organic cotton, and nothing else.
Ingredients in Seventh Generation organic tampons: [From their website] Components: Certified organic cotton (absorbent material, cover and string), water repellent wax (string), cotton (sewing thread).
Ingredients in Organyc tampons: [From amazon] Ingredients: 100% Organic cotton fibres, 100% Organic Cotton Nonwoven, cotton thread
Do you see where I’m going with this?
After making the switch to organic tampons I have not once experienced any body or joint aches, or other weird symptoms during my period. I also use organic pads now too.
Now it all makes sense that my body reacted the way it did with traditional tampons.[See my favorite brands of organic tampons here here and here ]
This is an amazing research article from the Environmental Justice Foundation about the world’s cotton industry and the chemical effects on the environment. I really urge you to read it when you have time!
So how about you?
Have you noticed any strange symptoms from regular tampons? Are you ready to make the switch to organic? Let me know in the comments!
Disclaimer: Using organic tampons does not protect against toxic shock syndrome. You can still get it from using any type of tampon. Read about the signs and symptoms here