Monday, September 16, 2013

Is Your Period Killing You?

For 13 years I suffered from intense cramps. I'm not talking Take Some Acetaminophen and Break Out the Heating Pad Cramps, these were debilitating cramps that landed me in the ER several times because they were so intense I thought I had a kidney stone (which I have frequently, but that's another post for another day). I saw several OBGYNs, but no one could pinpoint the cause of my menstrual pain. One doctor suggested I had a low threshold for pain, another said redheads experience pain more intensely (which is true, thanks MC1R and my mutated Chromosome 16), and the general consensus was that I would have the live with it until menopause. 

Fast forward... After the birth of my daughter I got on a Go Green kick. Cloth diaper, natural cleaning supplies, the whole 9 yards. I even started using Mama Cloth (gasp!). And guess what? Nearly 2 years later and my cramps are pretty much obsolete. This got me thinking that maybe disposable feminine care products had been to blame the whole time. What I found was shocking and disturbing.

Dioxin is used in the bleaching process of commercial pads and tampons. It builds in the body over time and has been linked to cervical and breast cancers (it's also one of the main ingredients in Agent Orange!). They also contain BPA and BPS which linked to heart disease (the number one killer of women) and cancer. They contain crude oil pastics, phthalates (which are known endocrine disrupters), and DEHP which has been shown to cause multiple organ damage. The adhesives of pads and the odor neutralizers of both pads and tampons (polyethylene, polypopylene, and popylene glycol) are link to cancer, birth defects, and infertility. Yuck!

Not only are the chemicals and toxins a deterrent to using disposable pads and tampons, the financial and ecological repercussions are as well. Worldwide $15.2 BILLION are spent annually on feminine care products. A five year stash of disposable pads or tampons will cost approximately $330, while reusable mama cloth will only run about $48. That means that disposables are 6.875 times more expensive than reusable ones! Disposable pads and tampons take 25+ years to decompose and the average woman will create 300 lbs of waste from them in her lifetime. 

If disposable feminine care products are so dangerous than why are they still legal? The FDA has found a way around the hazards of the toxic ingredients. They say that the chemicals are only dangerous through repeated exposure. I'm sorry, but I'm pretty sure 24 hours a day for about 60 days a year for an average of 37 menstruating years per woman's lifetime constitutes repeated exposure. 

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