Health Tips - Menstrual-Flow Products

 
Menstrual-Flow Products

Through the ages women have used strips of folded cloth to catch menstrual blood. Disposable menstrual pads were first available around 1888. Until then, women used a variety of pads made from fabrics that could be washed and reused. Cloth menstrual pads made a comeback in the early 1970’s.

One unsafe alternative to pads are tampons. A tampon is a mass of rayon and/or cotton, that can be inserted into the vagina to absorb blood flow. Tampons are so absorbent that they don’t allow the vagina to have its normal healthy discharge of germs and toxins.

Dr. Philip M. Tierno Jr., director of clinical microbiology and immunology at the New York University Medical Center, found that tampons were at the root of “toxic shock syndrome”. Toxic shock syndrome (TSS) is a life-threatening illness caused by a bacterial toxin. With proper treatment, patients usually recover in two to three weeks. The condition can, however, be fatal within hours. In California, from 1999-2001, there were four deaths reported per year from TSS. In 2002, there were eight deaths from the syndrome.

Although TSS symptoms can vary depending on the underlying bacteria, it typically manifests with a high fever, accompanied by low blood pressure, general discomfort, and confusion, which can rapidly progress to stupor, coma, and multiple organ failure. A rash, often seen early in the course of illness, resembles a sunburn, and can involve any region of the body, including the lips, mouth, eyes, palms and soles.

Conventional tampons and pads can contain pesticides used to grow cotton and/or chlorine which is used to bleach any rayon used. The chlorine breaks down into dioxin, a cancer-causing chemical linked to many health problems and possibly endometriosis (a female condition in which uterine cells flourish outside the uterus, creating problems), even at low levels of dioxin. While there is debate over whether the trace level of dioxin in these products is enough to be harmful, no one has researched a lifetime’s accumulation of it in the reproductive tract of females. Why risk your health in the first place?

There are additional products such as menstrual cups and sponges which act similarly to tampons in blocking the normal flow and ability to discharge of the vaginal tract. I do not recommend them.

Suggestions:

  1. Never use tampons on a regular basis.
  2. If you do use tampons during swimming or some unusual circumstance where a pad may not be workable, change it every 2 hours. Stop using them ASAP, after the event is over. 
  3. For those rare occasions you do use a tampon, buy a 100% organic cotton brand from your local health food store. The U.S. FDA recommends against rayon to reduce the risk of TSS.
  4. Use pads on a regular basis. Purchase disposable pads from health food stores, as they are usually free of the more toxic chemicals. Natracare is an especially healthy pad. 
  5. Google “washable sanitary pads” and try them. Here are some reviews by women who found them more comfortable and better for their body, budget and the environment: http://www.gladrags.com/s-1-rave-reviews.aspx

Pleasant menstrual cycles to you!

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