Welcome back to another ‘Mondays with Louka’!
Before we dive deeper into this month’s topic, I have a quick question for you. Imagine I would offer you a cupcake. A fresh, deliciously smelling cupcake, perfectly topped with buttercream and a strawberry on top that looks so perfect, you could think it’s fake. Before you take it, you ask me what’s in it, but I can’t tell you. The only thing I can say is that eating one cupcake won’t harm you and the dosage of the ingredients are well below the maximum recommended by the European General Product Safety Directive (GPSD). You think it sounds a little bit dodgy and ask me if there is anything unusual or harmful inside. Ok, I have to let you know that the buttercream turned out a little bit yellow, so I used a tiny bit of bleach to make it look perfectly white. But once again, it is not more than allowed by the European GPSD, so it’s safe.
Do you eat the cupcake?
Alright, just to be clear, I would never offer someone food that might contain poisonous chemicals such as bleach. I wouldn’t eat it myself either. But when I really think about it, I feel like I might as well. Because I think that over my past menstruating years I have put the same amount of these toxins (or even more) in my body through all the period products that I’ve used. It’s almost my 10 year period anniversary (#Perioversary), and bleeding non-stop, I’ve already used more period products than someone with a ‘normal’ period will ever use in their lifetime. For all these years I never realized what my period products were made of. No doctor ever informed me about the harmful chemicals and their side effects. The only advice they gave me was not to use a tampon every day, and alternate using them with pads, to give my vagina a little break. I never thought about organic and alternative period products, because I simply didn’t know better.
Do you have any idea what’s inside the period products that you use?
It’s something you might have heard about before, but there is a small chance you know it exactly.
Typical tampon and pad packaging don’t fully disclose their ingredients because guess what? They literally don’t have to. How bizarre is the fact that you have no idea what you put inside your body and that maybe before today… you didn’t think twice about it. So, let me break it down for you….
To see where it goes wrong, we have to look at the very beginning of the production process of the products. Most regular tampons and pads are made out of cotton, rayon and/or plastic. For those of you who don’t know what rayon is: it’s a super absorbent fiber mostly made wood pulp. When you think that cotton is a ‘natural’ product, you’re wrong. If there is one type of crop that contains a lot of chemicals, it’s conventional cotton. It’s treated with harmful pesticides to keep pests away and besides that, farmers spray their fields with defoliants to kill the leaves and the plant, before they harvest the cotton. Further on in the production process, it often happens that the cotton and rayon are bleached to make it look snow-white. And don’t think these chemicals are washed off, research shows that tons of chemicals are found in different period products.
So we have bleach, pesticides… And that’s not even the end of it. Think about other chemicals such as contaminants, fragrances, colorants, dyes and preservatives. None of it is illegal because one single product contains a very small amount of toxins, way less than permitted in our food. I even read an article that said you don’t have to be scared because we consume a lot of toxins through our food and non-food every day. Oh, so it’s ok then?? There’s barely any research you can find about the difference between consuming toxins via your food or by putting them in your vagina. The skin of our vagina is very sensitive and thin and can absorb these chemicals very fast. These toxins can cause hormonal imbalance and disturb the environment of your vagina. Don’t think it won’t happen to you, because it does. If there’s a tampon in your vagina, your body is absorbing any chemicals found in it. Maybe it doesn’t have any effect on you on the short-term or you will never notice at all. But the more I think about it, the more anxious I get over what the effects will be on the long-term. Especially since I can barely find research on it! In my case, I’ve been using them EVERY DAY for almost 9 years in a row. Realizing that makes me emotional, scared and nauseous. Very nauseous.
I wonder how you feel after reading this. There is a lot of shit in these products that you probably didn’t know about. And I didn’t even mention the plastic. Everybody knows plastic is a huge problem. But did you know that menstrual products are one of the most common items found on European beaches? The average menstruator uses between 10 and 15 thousand period products in a lifetime. Think about how much plastic that is.
So, I don’t want to get too scientific and exactly anatomize/analyze a tampon or a pad. I just want to make you think about it and encourage you to do research on the stuff that you use. Just because you don’t notice anything on the short-term, doesn’t mean it won’t harm you in the long-term. One thing I’m learning is to not always trust what experts say and rely on that. There is more research and always multiple ways to look at something. Listen to yourself and trust your gut, you know your body best.
P.S. Would you eat the cupcake now, or infact use that tampon? 😉
It’s with great joy and relief that I am using Mondays period products. Mondays are not only totally transparent about what’s in their products, but they use only organic cotton and they contain ZERO chemicals, ZERO perfumes, ZERO bleach and ZERO plastic! If you’d like to try their organic cotton tampons, pads and/or panty liners go to the Mondays online shop, choose the products you need and Mondays will send them in the post to you, wherever you are (delivery is always free!).
Louka, May 2020
Want to read more from Louka?
Read more about the Mondays change-maker Louka Bot and her (n)ever ending periods, start here with her first guest post of Mondays with Louka.