Research shows that many of today’s menstrual and vaginal care products contain a host of chemicals that may cause cancer, disrupt hormones, or cause unnecessary allergic reactions. Tampons are used by up to 70 percent of menstruating people in the U.S. Other products such as douches, sprays, washes, and wipes, are used by 20-50% of women, with use rates considerably higher among African-American, Latina and low-income women. The Food and Drug Administration does not require companies to test for all harmful chemicals, nor do they require companies to disclose the presence of all chemicals used in these products.
Given the widespread use of these products, the particularly sensitive exposure route for women, and the lack of regulatory oversight, Women’s Voices for the Earth is working to eliminate toxic chemicals from the $3 billion U.S. period and ‘feminine care’ products market.
Nanosilver (minute silver particles) is commonly incorporated into athletic clothing to make it “antibacterial” in an effort to reduce odor. In recent years, it has also been unnecessarily incorporated into certain period products including menstrual underwear, and some menstrual pads. Unfortunately, there are concerns about the effects of this antibacterial agent has on vaginal and vulvar tissue. Learn more.
In April 2018, we sent six popular brands of U.S. tampons to a lab to see what we could find out. We tested for volatile organic compounds – a suite of over 100 toxic air pollutants that can be tested for simultaneously. We discovered that for some brands – there appears to be more complexity (and chemical emissions) than others. Learn more.
Over 65% of women in the United States report using some form of vaginal lubricant in the previous month. While they can be very effective at reducing discomfort at the time they are used, researchers are becoming increasingly concerned about the potential longer term health effects of exposure to these products.
Through claims of “freshness,” “confident clean” and yes, even “odor control,” wipes are being advertised as the better option for the health and happiness of women. But the truth is, wipes may be doing you (and the planet) more harm than good.
Colorants found in some feminine washes come in contact with vaginal mucous membranes –violating the FDA’s use restrictions, and may adversely affect the health of women using these products.
Whether you use vaginal douching products or not, this important first-of-its-kind study reaffirms the need for more research into this unique and sensitive route of exposure for women.
Many of WVE’s materials contain the word “feminine” when used to describe period and other personal care products like wipes, washes, douches and sprays — this is a term which has traditionally dominated the menstrual products industry. But we know that words matter, and by using the term “feminine” we push people out of the conversation. There are people who use these items who do not identify as women. The experiences of transgender or gender nonconforming people are valid and their needs are critical to our mission of building healthier communities. We hope you will notice that moving forward we will be more mindful in how we talk about who is impacted by these products and by our work.
While a few studies have attempted to assess and measure potential risks of these products, all have indicated that there is more work to be done to better understand the impacts these products may have on our health. Learn more.
Women of Color Are Tired of Being Targeted by Toxic Marketing, Toxic Products. Learn more.
Congress makes a move to address long-ignored intimate care concerns. Learn more.
Whether you use vaginal douching products or not, this important first-of-its-kind study reaffirms the need for more research into this unique and sensitive route of exposure for women. Learn more.