Toxic Tampons & Poisonous Pads- The 6 ingredients wreaking havoc on your period

Saschan Fearon  |  27th May 2020

It’s the first day of your period (Yay!) you’re running to grab your trusted stash of period care products but have you ever done a deep dive into what’s really in your draws? (Yes that’s a double entendre). Most big brands and those found in your local corner shop aren’t listing their ingredients and are likely using some pretty toxin ingredients. Those pads that come in several different scent options? the ones that use plastic as a key ingredient? Probably aren’t supporting your vagina to stay bacteria free.

That’s because unlike your favourite shade of Fenty Foundation, personal care products, don’t legally require much regulation at all. Period care manufactures are not legally required to list the ingredients they use. With the vagina being one of the most absorbent areas of the body it’s essential we’re checking what we’re using on our vagina with the same vigour we assess what we put on our face.

1. Rayon

Rayon is a fibre originating from wood pulp. Originally sold as a cheap alternative to silk Rayon is one of the oldest manufactured materials in the world. As part of the manufacturing process the material is bleached releasing dioxin as a byproduct. The highly absorbent viscose rayon typically found in tampons has also been linked to Toxi Shock Syndrome which is it is important to note is not caused by tampons directly but by the spread of bacteria but studies have found that use of high absorbency tampons is linked to increased risk of TSS. The processing treatment for rayon can use several toxic chemicals including carbon disulphide, sulfuric acid, chlorine and caustic soda.

2. Dioxin

This chemical is produced as a result of chlorine processing. The World Health Organisation Dioxins state that dioxins are “highly toxic and can cause reproductive and developmental problems, damage the immune system, interfere with hormones and also cause cancer“. There is no safe level of exposure to dixoins due to their highly toxic nature and it is recommended that even trace exposure is limited as they have been linked to reproductive wellbeing disruption. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, dioxin exposure has been proven to cause cancer in lab animals and poses a high risk to people including damage to the immune systems, reduced fertility, an increased risk of pelvic inflammatory disease, and endometriosis.

A study on monkeys and dioxin exposure found that 80 percent of the animals exposed to dioxin actually developed endometriosis

3. Non-organic cotton

“The purpose of genetically engineered cotton is so that it will be resistant to pesticides and herbicides, which would affect the cotton’s growth,” says Frenkel. “This is problematic because it allows substantially more pesticides and herbicides to be sprayed on the cotton, which increases the risk of its residues being present in the cotton that’s in our tampons.” Hence why she stresses the importance of using organic cotton, since non-organic cotton tampons are likely to be genetically modified.


toxic beauty

4. Fragrance

Ever opened you pads or tampons and you’re reminded of your grandmas bathroom potpourri? That’s fragrance, which is also found in beauty products including face washes, body lotions and masks. Companies are not legally required to list which chemicals are used to create a fragrance so it can contain irritants and chemicals which are not vagina friendly. If you can, avoid using products which are fragranced vagina’s should smell like vagina not the beauty counter at boots.

5. Chlorine

When you think of chlorine your first thought is probably the local swimming baths or if you’re living in London the Lido.Chlorine is used in the bleaching processes of cotton and produces trace amounts of dioxin during this process. While trace amounts may not be considered overtly harmful, repeat exposure to dioxin over time has increased risks.

6. BPA

You’ve probably heard BPA mentioned as more companies move to BPA free plastic products and packaging in a bid to increase the safety of products. So if we’re not putting our food in it why are we using it in our bodies? BPA is a hormone-disrupting chemical that comes from producing plastic, and studies have linked it to cancer. Endocrine disruptors are chemicals that can interfere with your bodies hormonal systems. These disruptions can cause cancerous tumors, birth defects, and other developmental disorders. Endocrine disruptors are particularly problematic for for those of us with estrogen dominant or estrogen sensitive conditions such as endometriosis, PCOS or fibroids


The average person uses between 10,000 and 11,000 tampons throughout their lifetime



So what can you use instead?

Check out our top 3 tips below to help you decide the best products to support your vagina health.

  • Try and source organic, chemical free and sustainably sourced cotton pads and tampons. COmpanies such as TOTM have pioneered nearly 100% sustainably sourced and chemical free period care products. Including everything from the box to the wrapper being biodegradable toxin free. Best par of all they deliver them straight to your door!
  • Explore the best products to suit your lifestyle. With so many small companies innovating within the period care market, menstruation is being revolutionised. Not everyone wants to use pads and tampons so why not check out companies such as WUKA who create period pants or consider trying out a menstrual cup
  • Check what works for your budget. With widespread period poverty finding organic and chemical free period care products can be expensive. check out a range of period care providers to find the best one for your budget.