Eight Reasons Why Feminine Care Is Bad For Your Health

Feminine Care, health

Advertisers want you to believe that feminine care products will keep your lady parts healthy. But, not only are these products unnecessary, they are dangerous.

Because of the area of your body where they are applied and the chemicals in these products, they can damage your health. If you're itching to learn more, read on for 8 reasons to rethink your feminine care routine.

1. Your Super Absorbent Lady Parts

Feminine care products are intended for use on or in an incredibly absorbent part of your body. That means this area of your body is more vulnerable to exposure to toxic chemicals and irritants.

The walls of the vagina are filled with numerous blood vessels and lymphatic vessels, which allows for direct transfer of chemicals in to the circulatory system. So any chemicals absorbed through the vagina are easily and effectively distributed throughout your body.

Yet most of the toxic chemicals found in other cosmetic products are also used in feminine care products.  So, if you use feminine care products you’re applying toxic chemicals that are carcinogens, reproductive toxins, endocrine disruptors, and allergens on, or even in, the extremely permeable vaginal area.

2. Your Sensitive Microbiome

Just like your gut, your vagina has a complex and interdependent community of bacteria (the vaginal microbiome). This microbiome is important for maintaining a healthy mucosal environment, a healthy pregnancy and for protection against yeast infections or other sexually transmitted pathogens.

The disturbance of your normal microbiome, a condition called bacterial vaginosis (BV), is caused when feminine hygiene products upset the normal pH level of 4.5 in your vagina or by directly killing off bacteria.For example, douching can disrupt this microbiome by altering both the vaginal pH and changing the proportions and types of bacteria in the vagina.

3. Your Exposure To Formaldehyde.

Formaldehyde does an effective job of killing bacteria in feminine care products. So, many of the preservatives found in these products work by releasing formaldehyde during the shelf life of the product. 

Quaternium-15 and DMDM Hydantoin, used in feminine care products like wipes, are two types of preservatives that release formaldehyde. Two other formaldehyde-releasing preservatives, Polyoxymethylene urea and Diazolidinyl urea are also found in products like feminine wash and deodorant.

The danger of exposure to these preservatives is that formaldehyde is a known human carcinogen. The potential cancer causing impact of formaldehyde exposure to vaginal tissue is virtually unstudied. There is no research on the direct impact of carcinogen exposure on the vagina.

4. Your Exposure To Fragrance

Many feminine care products contain fragrance. Feminine sprays for example are mainly fragrance chemicals and a propellant. Even some pads and tampons are scented.

Products with fragrance may contain 50–300 different chemicals. Because fragrance is considered proprietary information, companies don’t have to disclose what chemicals they use so you don't know what toxins you are exposed to.

Fragrances can include chemicals which are carcinogens, irritants, allergens, and potential endocrine disruptors. In other words, synthetic fragrance doesn’t belong in your home, on your body and especially not IN your body.

5. Your Exposure To Phthalates

Phthalates are a group of chemicals that don't show up on any ingredient list. But since phthalates are used in scented products to dissolve and carry the smell of fragrances, it’s safe to assume that if you’re using a feminine product that contains fragrance, it also contains phthalates.

And that’s just what a 2012 Silent Spring Institute study found. In this study researchers looked at 213 commercial products and found that fragranced products had the highest concentrations and the most different types of phthalates.

That means using scented feminine products will expose you to low molecular weight phthalates like diethyl phthalate (DEP) and di-n-butyl phthalate (DnBP), the types used in fragranced personal care products.

Vaginal douching may be an especially important source of DEP exposure. One study found women who douched once a month had 52% higher urinary DEP concentrations than non-users. Women who douched two or more times a month had urinary DEP concentrations that were 152% higher than nonusers.

6. Your Exposure To Parabens

Parabens are commonly found in feminine wipes, feminine washes, and vaginal creams. Parabens are a health concern because they are endocrine disruptors that mimic estrogen.

Because its super absorbent, vaginal exposure to hormone-mimicking chemicals like parabens means you're body is absorbing more from feminine care products than it would from say body lotion. And endocrine disruptors can affect your health even when you’re exposed to small amounts.

Parabens have been linked to breast cancer. And higher levels of parabens in a woman’s urine has also been associated with ovarian aging, which leads to reduced fertility.

7. Your Exposure To Contaminants

Contaminants end up in feminine care products during the manufacturing process. For instance, PEG chemicals in products, used to keep liquid ingredients from seperating, can introduce ethylene oxide, a known carcinogen, and 1,4-Dioxane, a possible carcinogen into washes, wipes and deodorant and anti-itch creams.

Pads and tampons are made from cotton and/or rayon or other pulp fiber that is bleached white. When chlorine is used for bleaching, pads and tampons can become contaminated with highly toxic dioxins and furans. Exposure to dioxins and furans has been linked to cancer, reproductive harm and endocrine disruption.

Plus, cotton is grown with lots of pesticides, which can contaminate pads and tampons with residues. A 2013 study on one brand of tampons found the following pesticide residues:

Pesticide

Level parts per million

Health Effects

Pyrethrum 

at 66ppm

Acute toxicity and possible endocrine disruption

Procymidone 

at 37ppm

Probable human carcinogen, acute toxicity and possible endocrine disruption

Mecarbam 

at 6ppm

Acute toxicity and possible endocrine disruption

Methidathion 

at 5ppm

Acute toxicity and possible endocrine disruption

Fensulfothion 

at 5ppm

Acute toxicity and possible endocrine disruption

Malathion 

at 1ppm

Acute toxicity and possible endocrine disruption

Piperonyl Butoxide 

at 1ppm

Possible human carcinogen

8. Your Exposure To Allergens

Many of the chemicals found in feminine care products are skin irritants and allergens.  Methylchloroisofthiazolinone and Methylisothiazolinone (MCI/MI) is a common preservative combo in these products. MCI/MI were named “Allergens of the Year” in 2013 by the American Contact Dermatitis Society.

A 2016 study found that Methylisothiazolinone is a new and important contact allergen for the genital area.

Quaternium-15, a preservative found in washes and wipes, was one of the top five problem allergens in a study of women suffering from vulvar dermatitis. Parabens and some fragrance chemicals can also cause allergic reactions and itching.

The Least Toxic Feminine Care Products

Despite what advertisers want you to believe, you don't really need to use most feminine care products. So the least toxic option is to stop using them. 

However, if you're not willing to completely change your feminine care routine, consider switching to less toxic options. Your woo woo will thank you.

Douche

There’s no reason to use douche. Your vagina doesn't need your help to stay clean.

And studies link douching to bacterial vaginosis, pelvic inflammatory disease, cervical cancer, low-birth weight, preterm birth, HIV transmission, sexually transmitted diseases, ectopic pregnancy, chronic yeast infections, and infertility.

Physician groups like  American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology recommend that women DO NOT douche -  SO STOP DOUCHING!

Pads and Tampons

Tampons and pads are really the only necessary feminine care products. And they are the most popular, used by 70-85 percent of women. But, using them exposes you to carcinogens like dioxin and furan.

They also expose you to numerous pesticide residues. Plus, many pads and tampons are scented, exposing you to a combo of unknown chemicals including endocrine disruptors and allergens.

Luckily, there are much less toxic options to protect your lady parts. Make the switch to unscented pads and tampons made with organic cotton. Also, choose either unbleached options or products bleached without chlorine.  

Safer options to try are made by Seventh Generation and Organyc.

Feminine Washes and Wipes

Feminine washes and wipes contain formaldehyde releasing preservatives and parabens, both linked to increased risk of cancer. Wipes also frequently contain allergens like MCI/MI. Exposure concerns include endocrine disruption, allergic rash, and asthma.

Washes and wipes are unnecessary feminine products. But if you feel the need to use them try less toxic options. Organyc Intimate Wash for Sensitive Skin and Sliquid Organics Balance Splash Gentle Feminine Wash are good options.

Finding less toxic options for wipes is more difficult. So, if you like the convenience of wipes make your own. Buy dry wipes, soak a couple of days supply in feminine wash and store in a silicone wipes case.

You could also make your own wash. An easy recipe is:

1 cup distilled water, 1/2 tablespoon aloe vera, 1/2 tablespoon witch hazel, 1 tablespoon unscented liquid soap like Dr. Bronner's or Oregon Soap Company, a vitamin E capsule pierced and drained, and 1/2 tablespoon sweet almond oil.

Store in the refrigerator and shake well before each use.

Deodorant Sprays

The toxic ingredients in feminine deodorant sprays, powders and suppositories include unknown fragrance chemicals, parabens, and benzethonium chloride, a powerful disinfectant. Exposure concerns include reproductive harm, endocrine disruption and allergic rash.

Because these products need fragrance to work, there really are no safer options. It's best to just stop using deodorant products.

Anti-Itch Creams

While I believe the use of most feminine hygiene products are unnecessary and unhealthy, I kinda get the use of anti-itch creams. Itchy lady parts can be maddening.

BUT – what you need to realize is anti-itch creams commonly contain allergens or irritants, which can actually make your symptoms worse in the long run.

For example, one common chemical found in anti-itch creams is benzocaine, a mild anesthetic. So that initial relief you feel when you apply anti-itch cream is because your numb down there. In dermatology studies benzocaine is identified as one of the most common causes of vulvar and anogenital dermatitis.

Other problematic chemicals found in anti-itch creams include parabens and fragrance, both of which may also induce the very itching symptoms that these creams claim to soothe. Plus, parabens are endocrine disrupting chemicals. 

A less toxic option to soothe the itch is Organic Vaginal Health Moisturizer & Personal Lubricant By Bee Friendly. You could also make an anti itch spray by steeping soothing herbs like chamomile, basil, and comfrey in water to make a spray.

Or steep the herbs in a cup of jojoba, almond or apricot kernel oil. Place herbs in a glass jar, cover completely with oil and place in a sunny window for a week. Strain out the herbs,warm the oil, add 1/4 cup of beeswax and stir until melted to make a soothing salve. 

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