Are Scented Tampons and Pads Safe to Use?
For decades, the stigma associated with periods has persuaded women that they must take extra precautions to stay and smell fresh and clean during their menstrual cycles. Even though there is no proof that these claims are true, thousands of us buy and use perfumed pads and tampons every month, year by year. However, what all of us might not realize is that we are exposing ourselves to various risks.
Are scented pads and tampons that bad??
Yes, they are! And on top of all, we are using scents needlessly in our sanitary products. Many of you may not know that: “the vagina is self-cleaning.” It is “clean” without using any soap, chemicals, or perfume. Using a scented tampon or pad is also unnecessary to mask the period odour.
Another thing is that, what good will it do if you are adding chemicals and aroma to one of your body’s most sensitive places? It will surely lead to something more problematic and that is the scary truth. So why do we buy scented pads and tampons? How are companies able to sell them to us? – The answer to this question simply lies in our underlying insecurities. Companies prey on it, telling us that we are not taking care of ourselves to
the fullest and that we need daisies and roses in our underpants to enjoy our lives during the period days.
So always keep in mind that there are no claimed products that make your vagina smell nicer or keep it cleaner. Do not stress over using inorganic products which have artificial perfumes infused in them.
If the vagina is self-cleaning, then what causes vaginal odour?
In most cases, you do not have a “vaginal odor” in a way that you emit an unpleasant stench. Although every woman’s vagina has a scent, it isn’t unpleasant and does not transcend your clothing. So don’t you worry girl!
As discussed earlier, your vagina is self-cleaning and does not require any assistance in naturally disposing of excessive fluids on monthly basis.
A little microbiome of healthy bacteria lives inside your vagina and on your vulva, keeping bad bacteria at bay, protecting you from infection, and helping to keep it clean.
There might be some occasions on which the pH level of your vagina may get unbalanced due to an unstabilized microbiome, leading to bacteria overgrowth. Thus further leading to some kind of infection causing a fetid smell. However, this odour will be followed by plenty of other symptoms such as discomfort, itching, and odd discharge.
Scented vs Unscented pads and tampons
If we start comparing these two types of sanitary products then the first few things that will come to our minds in the case of unscented hygiene products will be:
- ● Organic-as they are made of earthly material like cotton;
- ● Eco-friendly-because they are easily disposed of without harming the environment; and
- ● Rash-free-they will not cause any irritation to the most sensitive area
of the body as they are not infused with artificial perfumes or anything unnecessarily fancy.
Nonetheless, in contrast, if we give a closer look to products that are quite artificial for the environment and for ourselves, then we will come to know that the material being used in them is neither biodegradable nor healthy. So let us look into the list of materials that are used in making scented pads and tampons:
- ● Chlorine- while manufacturing sanitary products, chlorine is used to clean and bleach the pads and tampons to make them appear whiter than they naturally are.
- ● Dioxin- this chemical byproduct is popularly known to be used while bleaching tampons in the manufacturing process and subsequently causing cancer.
- ● Scent/ Fragrance- artificial chemicals are added to the pads and tampons to make them smell good and fresh.
- ● Polyester- material that is next to other culprits for toxic shock syndrome.
● BPA (Bisphenol A)- a type of plastic that is toxic and used in manufacturing Tampon applicators
● Rayon- it is an absorbent material that is used in making pad’s or tampons’ upper layer to avoid spillage of blood
Scented tampons and pads side effects
The mucous membranes that line the vaginal wall are sensitive and absorb substances that come in contact with it. And if these substances are chemicals then it may lead to the following negative effects.
● Scented tampons can cause Bacterial Vaginosis
When the mix of microorganisms ( known as flora) is affected, bacterial vaginosis (BV) occurs. When this happens, the vaginal region gets unbalanced, and one of the bacteria overgrows and leads to infection. White or grey discharge, soreness, burning sensation, a strong fishy odour, and itching are all symptoms of bacterial vaginosis.
● Fragrance disrupts pH Balance
To be healthy, the vaginal flora and pH are regulated in a delicate equilibrium which is influenced by various types of microorganisms present. Moreover, to maintain its health, the vagina regularly cleanses bacteria, impurities, and dead skin cells, therefore, no extra products are required.
● Scents cause skin irritation
Not only for sensitive skin types but keeping chemicals close to the sensitive body parts like the vagina may lead to allergic reactions. These skin irritations may appear with symptoms like redness, soreness, itching, and rashes.
● Chemicals may affect your reproductive health
The use of chemicals in sanitary products puts you at potential risk of endocrine disruption, fertility problems, alterations in the menstrual cycle, hormone irregularities, and fertility problems.
The components in the phrase “fragrances,” which shows up in the ingredient list on labelling requirements, are not required to be disclosed. Yet, scents typically contain compounds known as phthalates, which are known to act as disruptions in the research done on normal functioning animals’ hormonal and reproductive systems.
● Rare but quite life-threatening Toxic Shock Syndrome
Toxic shock syndrome (TSS) is a disorder in which some bacteria, such as Clostridium sordellii, Streptococcus pyogenes, or, Staphylococcus aureus, release toxins that trigger septic shock across the body.
Although uncommon, people using high-absorbency pads and tampons during menstrual cycles may be affected by this condition. One should look out for symptoms such as organ failure, low blood pressure (hypotension), and fever.
Alternatives to Scented Pads and Tampons
Extra scents, dangerous chemicals, or anything that could affect your body should not be found in your hygiene care products. Your sanitary essentials should only include materials that are necessary to keep you comfortable, help manage your flow, and prevent leaks.
Always remember to go for products that are organic, toxin-free, rash-free, and cruelty-free. Organically grown cotton is the best alternative of all.
- ● Unscented pads-If you are inclined towards using sanitary pads, then avoid buying pads that are heavily infused with scents or perfumes. Go for 100% organic cotton that will prevent rashes, itching, swelling, allergies, and unbalanced pH, keeping you dry all day long. And at night too!
- ● Unscented tampons-Your body needs the best and the best tampons for you should be made of pure cotton without chemicals and inorganic scents to maintain your vaginal pH balance and protect you from any leakage.
If you are seeking environment-friendly options then you can opt for reusable sanitary products like menstrual cups, reusable pads, and period underwear as alternatives.
● Period underwear-There are chances you might not be knowing what period underwear is or do they even exist. Yes, they do exist, making the lives of all bleeding people bearable and easy on those painful days. This underwear has absorbent material in its lining and is worn solely as underpants. It absorbs all the period blood without any leakage.
● Menstrual cup- Many women are opting for menstrual cups as they come in both reusable and single-use options. Moreover, menstrual cups do not hinder daily movements as they are flexible and are inserted into the vagina to collect menstrual flow. However, menstrual cups are not for all and people vary in their experiences.
Feel free, be confident, and do not shy away on your period days. Embrace yourself, embrace your body and embrace your monthly cycles by choosing the right rash-free, cruelty-free, surely organic, and toxin-free sanitary products. There is nothing to cover up. So surely stay away from scents!