Saturday, January 17, 2009

Let's Get Personal

Alright, girls.  It's time for a personal post.  This one is about Aunt Flo, the visitor, the crimson wave.  More accurately, it's about how you deal with the unpleasant monthly occurrence...your period.  For most of us growing up, we were presented with two options:  pads or tampons.  Tampons were scary at first, but then we learned they can give us freedom, and we weren't so scared anymore.  I'm here to put a bit of that fear back in you.  Sorry.  

Here's the thing:  Tampons are not so healthy.  

Of course, there's Toxic Schock Syndrom, or TSS.  That's the fine print warning that's on every box.  We all know about it.  It can be deadly, but it's really rare, right.  Sure.

Next up come dioxins.  Dioxins are an after-effect of the bleaching process.  Tampons are bleached because...well...bright white just seems cleaner.  Truly, this is the only reason.  It's marketing.  The FDA has looked into the presence of dioxins in tampons twice.  Once in 1988 and again in 1994.  Both studies found the amounts to be very low.  However, the latter year also saw another FDA study that proved that dioxins, even in trace amounts, can lead to immune suppression, reproductive problems and hormonal disruptions.  Two university studies point to a link between dioxins and endometriosis.  

Can you find a tampon without dioxins...yes.  A few manufactures make unbleached cotton tampons.  Be careful, though.  Unless they are organic unbleached tampons, they are made with pounds of pesticides, and that's another topic entirely.  Gross.  And don't forget, even organic unbleached tampons won't eliminate your risk of TSS, though they will lower it.

Pads don't pose a risk of TSS, but they are bleached and contain dioxins.  Of course, they don't pose as much of a threat outside your body.

Then there's the environmental catastrophe.  The average woman throws away 275 pounds of tampons, pads, and applicators in her lifetime.  That's a lot of trash.  Everything we flush is fished out by a skimmer net in the sewage treatment process.  From there, it heads to the landfill.

Fortunately, there are alternatives that are better for you and better for the environment.  I'll highlight these tomorrow, and leave you thinking about this post today.  My chocolate chip cookies are ready and calling my name. :)


T.J. and Jen said...

I wonder if the dioxins are why people report that their periods are lighter and faster when you use the *yet to be named* healthy alternatives?!?