5 Reasons You Should Be Using Organic Tampons
When a coworker generously provided me with an emergency tampon, I couldn’t help teasing her as she pulled the box out of her desk drawer.
“You and only you would have organic tampons,” I joked when I saw the label.
“If you wouldn’t put it in your mouth, you shouldn’t put it in your vagina,” she shot back.
I couldn’t argue—this is pretty solid life advice for any and all foreign objects. But it’s especially relevant to tampons—after all, they sit in your body for hours on end, and the vagina is one of the most absorbent areas of the body.
Why was I going out of my way to buy organic produce, but just throwing any box of on-sale tampons in my grocery cart?
Personally, I was converted on the spot by my health-savvy coworker. But in case you’re on the fence, here are five reasons you should be using organic tampons.
1. It’s Impossible to Know What’s in Conventional Tampons
Secret ingredients are fun on Food Network. But when it comes to your tampon, you deserve to know exactly what’s in it. Problem is, it’s almost impossible to find out.
The FDA classifies tampons as medical devices, and while this ensures some regulations, it conveniently doesn’t require manufacturers to disclose their materials.
Last year, Democratic Rep. Grace Meng of New York introduced the Menstrual Products Right to Know Act, a bill that would require companies to list the ingredients of tampons, pads, and menstrual cups directly on the packaging. The legislation remains in its first stage—so until then, you’re on your own.
One thing we know for sure that conventional tampons contain? Dioxins.
Classified by the World Health Organization as a known human carcinogen, dioxins are highly toxic compounds that are produced during the tampon bleaching process. Levels of dioxins are now lower thanks to new manufacturing processes, and the FDA recommends that companies continue to monitor and lower dioxin levels.
Which, sure, is a nice gesture—but doesn’t a carcinogen warrant a bit more than a recommendation? And how low is low enough when it comes to toxins?
Organic tampons skip the dioxin by skipping the bleach. Easy peasy.
2. Non-Organic Cotton is Full of Pesticides
According to the Pesticide Action Network, despite some progress, pesticide and herbicide use remains rampant and problematic in the cotton industry. The World Health Organization considers these chemicals to be “extremely or highly dangerous,” linking them to everything from infertility to neurological dysfunction in field laborers.
Now, it’s true that you’re not picking or processing the cotton in your tampons, so your level of exposure is much lower. But when you consider how many tampons you’ll use over the course of your lifetime, it’s worth thinking about making the switch to an organic alternative.
3. Conventional Tampons May Contain Fragrance
First things first: You smell fine. While period blood does have an odor, unless you have an underlying medical problem, it should be mild and easily managed by regularly changing your pad or tampon.
The only thing that smells fishy to us is conventional tampon manufacturers, who cash in on women’s insecurities by peddling “fresh” scented products.
Fragrances can be composed of hundred of chemicals—and remember there’s no mandate that these chemicals be named or listed for consumers. Additionally, personal care products with scents can contain endocrine-disruptor phthalates. If there’s one place you don’t want to mess with hormones, it’s your vagina.
Organic tampons are fragrance-free for two reasons: Fragrance down there is unnecessary, and it’s potentially harmful.
4. Your Vagina is Super Absorbent
The vagina is an amazing organ lined with a just-as-amazing mucous membrane that can both secrete and absorb substances. This membrane helps to keep things nice and lubricated during sex, as well as keep things moving during childbirth.
It’s one of the most permeable areas of the body, and can rapidly absorb chemicals without having to waste time metabolizing them, something that has led researchers to explore delivering drugs vaginally.
But what about those dioxins, pesticides, fragrance chemicals, and whatever else is lurking around in your conventional tampons? As amazing as the vagina is, it doesn’t have a bouncer that turns toxins away.
Just as you may be hesitant to put harsh chemicals on your skin—which at least has a leathery, protective surface—it makes sense to protect this other highly absorbent organ. After all, your vagina works plenty hard for you.
5. Organic Tampons Are Better for the Planet
Organic tampons are better for your body, yes—but this isn’t just about you.
Cotton has earned the unenviable distinction as being as the dirtiest crop in the world. Conventional cotton farming processes destroy ecosystems, poison animals, contaminate soil and water, and endanger workers through exposure to harmful pesticides and fertilizers.
If you aren’t sure how to determine whether a certain brand is safe for both your body and the environment, look for Certified B Corporations. Tampon brands like Cora are part of a community of more than 1,000 companies across 60 industries which meet rigorous standards of performance, accountability, and transparency, and are using the power of business to alleviate poverty, address climate change, and build strong local communities and great places to work.
Supporting organic farming practices—whether at the farmer’s market or in the drugstore—is voting for the planet with your dollar.
Say it with us: See you never, basic tampons.
Featured image by Marianne Krohn
Author Bio Monica Weymouth is a Philadelphia-based writer, editor, mother, animal lover, breakfast enthusiast and Jeopardy! nerd. One time, in the highlight of her journalism career, Bob Barker called her a "nice young lady." Pay her a visit at monicaweymouth.com.