Have you ever had that vaginal irritation that doesn’t go away, despite antibiotics and other thrush treatments?
Do you find it gets worse around your bleed? Perhaps you suffer from endometriosis, heavy bleeds or period pain?
You may have tried abdominal massage, changing your diet, yoga, castor oil packs but not noticed much of a difference. If you are thinking this sounds familiar, then you may be surprised to hear your menstrual products and “feminine hygiene” products are to blame.
Irritation Causing Period Pain and Vaginal Discomfort
I recently found out that according to Natracare (a company that produce more friendly period products), 75% of UK Gynaecologists surveyed, thought that unexplained irritation in the vagina is likely to be caused by feminine hygiene products. And this really isn’t a surprise when you think about it.
There are many ingredients used in these products that are well known irritants and allergens in other contexts: chlorine, latex, lubricants, sodium lauryl sulphate, fragrances and heavy metal based dyes are all used in various feminine hygiene products as standard and unfortunately, they are not clearly labelled on the packet.
Additionally, when you remove a tampon which isn’t completely soaked through, it can leave fibres on the inside of the vagina or cervix. These can also cause irritation, inflammation, hold on to various “bad bacteria” strains which lead to an increase occurrence of vaginal and bladder irritation.
Upsetting The pH of Our Vagina Causing Pelvic Pain
Our bodies carry out a delicate balancing act of keeping the good bacteria strains high and bad bacteria strains low. Our vaginas in particular are doing this regularly as they contain a bacteria called lacto-bacilli which keep their environment pH slightly acidic which helps prevent infections.
Unfortunately, all bleached products upset this balance as they have an alkaline pH (pH greater than 7).
Heavier and/or Painful Periods
The bleaching process produces a substance called dioxin which is linked to increased amounts of blood loss and painful bleeds. There have been several studies linking dioxin to endometriosis, including that of Professor Osamu Tsutsumi, Professor of Gynaecology at the Tokyo University Hospital. In 1999, he found that women suffering from endometriosis had a higher level of dioxins in their systems.
What Menstrual Products Reduce Period Pain?
Unfortunately, there is no way of telling what is in a lot of products as manufacturers are not required to list chemical names or other ingredients in their products. So advising you to read labels may not be helpful, although I believe reading labels may be helpful anyway.
If you want to continue to use tampons or pads, you can look at using unbleached, 100% organic cotton pads or tampons.
You can also look into other methods of sanitary protection such as re-usable sanitary pads or menstrual cups.
I would love to hear whether you have made the change and what difference it has made to you. If you want to know more, you can book on to my Periodology: Love Your Period Online Course to find out how to pick, choose and use alternative menstrual products as well as learn self care practices to enrich your period experience.