Most women who have periods decide to use sanitary pads all the way through their cycle in order to manage the blood flow. But over time, several studies have brought attention to the dangers of these menstrual hygiene products and the science behind their production.
Sanitary napkins aren’t all that hygienic after all. According to a recent study, most sanitary napkins supplied in India are contaminated with substances that cause cancer. According to the study, some women’s usage of sanitary napkins may result in cancer and even infertility. Given that only 36 per cent of the total women population in India uses sanitary pads during periods.
It is alarming that several dangerous compounds, such as carcinogens, reproductive poisons, endocrine disruptors, and allergies, are included in regularly used sanitary pads.
Let’s read further to know deeply how true this theory is:
Sanitary pads and the risk of cancer
According to reports, research by the non-profit group Toxic Link, located in New Delhi, discovered that some of the most well-known brands of sanitary pads manufactured in India include chemicals that may raise your risk of cancer and infertility.
The researchers looked at 10 various kinds of sanitary pads manufactured in India, both organic and inorganic. They discovered that the most often utilised chemicals in these pads are phthalates and volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
We find this to be a disturbing revelation because many girls and women use pads, which will frighten them. According to the research, phthalates and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) present in minute amounts in each sample have the potential to develop into malignant cells. Infertility is a recognised side effect of the pads. Women may face issues if the substances enter the body.
One must be aware that using sanitary pads for an extended period of time might result in skin chafing and that it is crucial to replace them every four hours. Additionally, it is also not eco-friendly to dispose of these products. Menstrual cups, therefore, seem to be a sensible answer, provided they are practical and acceptable.
If the cups are made available to women, it looks like a workable, sensible option for those who are economically underprivileged also. Young girls and women who don’t feel comfortable inserting a cup might opt for sanitary pads.
Harmful effects of sanitary pads
- To give them a fresh and sterile appearance, sanitary pads feature fibres that have undergone chlorine bleaching. Dioxin, a very harmful contaminant produced during this bleaching process, has been linked to endometriosis, cancer, pelvic inflammatory disease, and hormone disruption.
- Pesticides and herbicides are present in the conventionally produced cotton used for the pad, and they remain on the cotton long after it has been harvested.
- Sanitary pads include a plastic covering at the bottom that prevents liquid or air from passing through, making them notable for being leak-proof. It is well known that plastic traps heat and moisture, which facilitates the growth of yeast and germs. It can also cause burning, chafing, and soreness.
Alternatives of sanitary pads
- Menstrual cup: The tiny, bendable cup has the form of a funnel and is constructed of silicone and metal. The device is inserted into the vagina to capture the flow. It is reusable and offers leak-free security for up to 12 hours. One cup is supposed to last for around 10 years. being both cost-effective and environmentally friendly.
When you get the hang of using a menstrual cup, you’ll find that it is not only comfortable but also quite gentle on the body. At first, they could appear messy and difficult to insert.
- Cloth pads: The workings of cloth pads are the same as those of disposable ones; however, the former is constructed of layers of cotton that are covered in a waterproof fabric that can be cleaned and reused. They are comfortable, environment-friendly and lighter to carry. It is also one of the healthiest alternatives as it eliminates the risk of Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS).
- Period panties: Can it get any better than pants with built-in period protection that can be worn like regular underwear? This alternative is far cosier, user and environmentally friendly, and it has many layers to stop leaks even if the flow is high in certain ladies. They come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, materials, and holding capacities and are reusable, washable, and durable.
In a paper titled ‘Menstrual Waste 2022,’ Toxics Link revealed that ten samples of sanitary pads—six inorganic and four organic—that are easily available purchased over-the-counter in most pharmacies and stores included phthalates and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). The US-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention describes phthalates as a class of compounds used to increase the tensile strength of plastics. They are frequently called ‘plasticizers’.
It is important for women to be very conscious while using a sanitary napkin and maintaining hygiene. There are various healthy alternatives available in the market in place of sanitary pads to maintain proper hygiene and lower the risk of any health issue.
FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
Are sanitary pads harmful?
According to a recent study based on lab results, major sanitary pad brands marketed in India, including organic ones, have been discovered to contain harmful chemicals and volatile organic compounds that directly affect the user’s health in addition to having a significant negative influence on the environment.
Which is better, menstrual cup or pads?
The menstrual cups were just as good if not better than sanitary napkins or tampons for usage during periods.
Which pads are non-toxic?
Cotton pads are non-toxic.
Are cotton pads safer?
Yes, cotton pads are safer.