By Miwa Hiroe
We are, generally, decent at questioning things that are new to us: beliefs, behaviours, products, etc. and yet, if the subject in question has been all that we’ve ever known, since the dawn of our experienced time, it’s less likely to draw enough attention to be closely scrutinized, especially if it seems to be in working order. Yes, that sentence did just take up a whole paragraph.
I could spend some more time on that thought, but instead I’m going to delve into an example – an example that, besides falling into the “not considered because it’s always been that way” category, is less talked about because it involves an act of nature that puts many people out of their comfort zones. I’m really killing the run on sentences today. So, zooming in on specifics… products… women’s hygiene products … (it’s still politically correct to call them ‘women’s’, am I right? Or are men chomping at the bit for a product description that’s more gender inclusive?) … tampons, there we go!
Tampon: the discreet little blood wallower that allows women to surreptitiously go about menstruating whilst continuing their day to day lives. I have no qualms with the purpose that tampons serve, but the illusive wads have been gaining attention because, although they are regularly (for those of us who are regular, irregularly for those who are not) inserted into a highly absorbent, sensitive area (let’s not beat around the bush, I’m talking about vaginas) the manufacturing information available for the product is considerably lacking.
The main deficiency is in the labeling of the ingredients and how those ingredients are treated (chemically speaking, although hopefully they are also treated with respect and kindness). Food and drug industries have experienced a great push for more transparency regarding their ingredients, but ‘personal care products’ have gotten off lightly. So, what constituents in a seemingly harmless cotton bullet should we be concerned about? (Pull the string, let’s see what unravels)
- Pesticides: “What?” you say? Most commercial cotton crops are heavily sprayed with aggressive pesticides, not discounting a spectrum of pesticides that were developed during WW2 as toxic nerve agents.
- Rayon: Unless the tampons are 100% cotton, they likely include rayon, a synthetic fibre which has been associated with an increased likeliness of Toxic Shock Syndrome.
- Chlorine & Dioxin: Risky bleaching products and byproducts.
- Fragrance: Generally a chemical jambalaya that you don’t want stewing in or near you.
- BPA (in the applicator): Besides creating extra garbage, plastic applicators can contain BPA, a hormone-disrupting product in plastic.
There is an alternative to tampons. And it gets even better. The alternative is latex-free, plastic & BPA-free, odour-free, and dye-free. It’s also waste-free (no, I’m not suggesting that you spend your whole period in the bathtub). The magical device I speak of is called a Diva Cup. It’s a little vessel made of healthcare grade, non-absorbent silicon that, rather than soaking up the menstrual blood, simply holds it until the cup is pulled out and emptied. This hands on approach to dealing with blood may seem distasteful at first, but there are pragmatic, self serving benefits that felicitously compliment the environmental and health factors. Diva Cups leak less than tampons. The vessel can contain more liquid than a tampon can absorb, meaning fewer changes. Also, because there is no residual material being left behind from the cup, it contributes to better vaginal hygiene. And let’s not forget about cost – the total price for disposable, regularly used products over a lifetime really adds up!
If you tried it, and found it uncomfortable or daunting, don’t give up just yet. One of your sisters or girlfriends probably already has one and can give you the needed helpful tips to improve your experience. Or come in to Infinity and ask me. Apparently I don’t mind talking about this stuff pubic, I mean, publicly.