Women choose either sanitary pads or tampons to address menstruation issues. Drugstores and supermarkets are lined up with a host of personal care and hygiene products nowadays right from wet wipes to gentle washes which are used on a day-to-day basis. Safety and the need for using feminine hygiene products is a rarely-discussed topic and women feel awkward to comment or open up on such ‘personal’ topics publicly.
Simply speaking, all you need to do to maintain hygiene of your vagina is to rinse/wash it. We complicate things fearing foul smell, infections and with the intention of taking extremely rightful steps to protect our intimate parts. We buy them in the hope that these feminine hygiene products will provide cleanliness without harming our skin unlike soaps that are often irritating and caustic.
Useful or Harmful?
A new study, the first-ever such kind of a study, finds that using these feminine intimate hygiene products isn’t that fanciful! The study was done by researchers in a Canadian University. Almost 95% Canadian women use intimate hygiene products, but they are likely to suffer from some form of infection and these products end up doing more harm than good.
Published in the BMC Women’s Health Journal, this study surveyed around 1500 Canadian women regarding their vaginal health practices, use of products and the potential problems faced. Most of these women admitted their use of anti-itch creams, moisturizers, lubricants and wet wipes for feminine care. The results showed connections between specific products to specific infections. Although the research does not define clearly if it is the product causing the infection or if these women used the product to curb/minimize infection, the results are strong enough to suggest that further research and in-depth analysis is required in the case of using these feminine hygiene products. Some startling analysis from the study include:
Our society has branded female genitalia as unclean and women view these vaginal hygiene products as something women need to attain levels of purity and neatness. It is seen as a requirement rather than a luxury. This causes a chain of problems that start occurring once the female starts using such products.
Sanitary Pads & Tampons
A woman uses more than 12,000 tampons or sanitary pads through her active years of menstruation. Safety of these products have been questioned by many people, but no proper results and research exist that either support or deny their use. This might be primarily because menstruation and female personal hygiene have been set aside as a taboo subject for a long time. Various women organizations in America have found the presence of chemicals such as dioxins, carcinogens and reproductive toxins in tampons and pads although the FDA and product manufactures vouch for the safety of these products.
There are research results that show that vaginal douching can increase women’s exposure to phthalates and chemicals that are related to various health problems (including developmental and behavioral issues in children who are exposed to these products in the womb). Two studies that specifically focused on the safety of tampons found that women are exposed to much higher levels of dioxins through use of tampons than what they eat and drink.
Some researchers feel that it is better to use pads compared to tampons, at least they are not inserted inside. Least, go for tampons made of 100% organic cotton which are better for the individual and the planet.
While sanitary pads and tampons have become almost mandatory for every menstruating female, the use of other female hygiene products at least can be avoided. Maintain vaginal hygiene simply by washing it. It’s the only one needed!
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Dietitian & Nutritionist Dr. Nafeesa Imteyaz.