The Issue With Scented Tampons

The Issue With Scented Tampons
Source – Public Goods Blog

The marketing of scented hygiene products leads individuals to believe that they should use fragrances and cleansers to “fix" the smell of their vagina. This is an effort to capitalise on insecurities. However, the vagina is a self-cleaning organ that does not need the use of products to stay clean.


The Issue With Scented Tampons

Tampons are used by up to 86 percent of menstruating women, according to research. Despite this, many individuals are unaware that scented tampons might have unwanted chemicals. There are also worries regarding the safety of recurrent internal exposure to some substances contained in both scented and unscented tampons.

Scented products might irritate and alter the vagina’s natural, healthy environment. Moreover, despite being classified as a medical device by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), tampon production is subject to minimal testing or regulation.

The marketing of scented hygiene products leads individuals to believe that they should use fragrances and cleansers to “fix" the smell of their vagina. This is an effort to capitalise on insecurities. However, the vagina is a self-cleaning organ that does not need the use of products to stay clean.

This page will go over tampon composition, possible difficulties with scented tampons, and alternatives.

Source - Glamour

Scented Tampons Ingredients

Because of the tampon industry’s lax rules, companies do not always declare all of the chemicals needed to create their products. The following are some of the primary chemicals and compounds in tampons that have been linked to negative health effects:

  • Rayon: A highly absorbent material
  • Polyester: A highly absorbent material that has been mostly phased out of the market because of the danger of toxic shock syndrome (a rare but serious and potentially fatal infection)
  • Fragrance: Chemicals used to scent the tampon
  • Bisphenol A (BPA): A harmful type of plastic that is occasionally used in tampon applicators.
  • Dioxin: A byproduct of chemicals that are recognised carcinogens (was more common when tampons were being bleached, which is no longer a common manufacturing process)
  • Chlorine: Can be utilised in bleaching or cleaning procedures throughout the production process.

Scented Tampons’ Potential Side Effects

The vagina is coated with mucous membranes that absorb substances that are introduced into it. These compounds may also be found in unscented tampons and it can cause the following negative effects.


Alters pH Balance

To stay healthy, the vagina naturally preserves a delicate balance of pH (acidity and alkalinity) and flora (a mix of microorganisms). The pH balance is influenced by the kinds and relative quantities of microorganisms present.

To preserve its health, the vagina regularly washes away dead skin cells, germs, and chemicals. Because your vagina can maintain itself clean, no extra products are required to keep it clean and healthy.

The vaginal balance is sensitive, and adding products and chemicals can easily result in an undesirable imbalance. Infections or skin irritation can result from a pH imbalance.


Disruption of Endocrine Function

There is little known about how the chemicals in scented tampons affect your reproductive health over time. There has been little research. Nonetheless, it appears that chemicals pose a risk for hormonal imbalances, changes in the menstrual cycle, and fertility issues.

Companies are not obliged to reveal the ingredients in the term “fragrances," which appears on product labels in the list of ingredients. However, perfumes often include phthalates, which have been shown in animal experiments to interfere with the normal functioning of animals’ hormonal and reproductive systems.


Exposure to Neurotoxin

A neurotoxin is a substance that harms nerve tissue. Despite the fact that tampons are not screened for heavy metals that may have neurotoxic effects. If the tampon is prepared using components cultivated in soil that has greater levels of heavy metals, such as mercury, chromium, or lead, it may include heavy metals. More study and testing are required to fully comprehend this possible danger.


Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS)

Toxic shock syndrome (TSS) is a disease in which the proliferation of certain types of bacteria, such as Staphylococcus aureus, Streptococcus pyogenes, or Clostridium sordellii, creates toxins that induce septic shock.

While this condition is uncommon, it can afflict women who use high-absorbency tampons throughout their menstrual cycle. Fever, hypotension (low blood pressure), and organ failure are among symptoms of TSS. It is unknown if scented goods enhance the risk of toxic shock when compared to unscented products.

To reduce the risk of toxic shock syndrome, use the lowest absorbency tampon required to regulate your flow for the shortest length of time possible.


Irritation

Fragrance and chemicals have the potential to cause allergic responses or skin irritation. This might result in symptoms such as swelling, itching, rash, and redness.


Bacterial Vaginosis

Bacterial vaginosis (BV) occurs when the normal flora (a diverse mix of microorganisms) is disturbed. When the environment is unbalanced, one of the vaginal bacteria might overgrow and cause infection. Bacterial vaginosis symptoms include thin white or grey discharge, discomfort, itching, burning, and a strong fishy odour.

Scented Tampon Alternatives

Tampons and menstruation pads are not the only menstrual products available:

  • Menstrual cup: A flexible cup put into the vagina to collect menstrual flow. They are accessible in both reusable and disposable forms.
  • Period underwear: contains absorbent material integrated into it. They are used like regular underwear and can be washed.

It is advisable to read the labels and investigate the brand while looking for menstruation products. Because there are few regulations on these items, determining which ones are the safest could be difficult. When purchasing tampons or pads, keep the following in mind:

  • Avoid products that have been tainted with chemicals.
  • Tampons and pads should be used for the shortest length of time possible.
  • While sleeping, use a menstrual pad instead of a tampon.
  • Tampons should never be left in for more than eight hours.
  • To limit your menstrual flow, use the least absorbent pad possible.
  • Look for tampons with BPA-free applicators.
  • Seek for companies that use organic materials.

Summary

Scented tampons include extra chemicals that are superfluous since individuals do not require scented products to cure the smell of their vagina. Fragrances have the ability to irritate and disturb the vaginal environment.

Consider using organic cotton tampons, pads, and BPA-free applicators instead of scented tampons. Always use menstruation products for the shortest amount of time possible.

Bonus Point

Because the vagina is a self-cleaning organ, it is not essential to use a scented tampon to mask any odours. Contact your healthcare provider if you are worried about an odour or strange discharge.

Frequently Asked Questions 

  • What should the scent of a healthy vagina be like?

A healthy vagina should have a faint odour. It may have a subtle, musky odour. It may be different for each individual. If you detect a strong odour or a fishy odour, it might be an indication of an infection and it’s time to see a doctor.

  • Is it okay to use scented maxi pads?

Scented feminine pads, like tampons, may disrupt the healthy environment in your vagina. The fragrance’s compounds may irritate the skin or affect the pH. Look for unscented pads instead.

  • What is the prevalence of toxic shock syndrome?

Toxic shock syndrome is an uncommon illness that affects 1 to 3 people per 100,000 in the United States. The number of cases has decreased as a result of changes in tampon manufacturing.

Sources

  1. https://www.verywellhealth.com/are-scented-tampons-bad-for-you-5211350#toc-ingredients-in-scented-tampons
  2. Nicole W. A question for women’s health: chemicals in feminine hygiene products and personal lubricants. Environ Health Perspect. 2014;122(3):A70-A75. doi:10.1289/ehp.122-A70
  3. Jenkins AL, Crann SE, Money DM, O’Doherty KC. “Clean and fresh”: understanding women’s use of vaginal hygiene products. Sex Roles. 2018;78(9-10):697-709. doi:10.1007/s11199-017-0824-1
  4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Phthalates overview.
  5. Gaensbauer JT, Birkholz M, Smit MA, Garcia R, Todd JK. Epidemiology and clinical relevance of toxic shock syndrome in us children. Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal. 2018;37(12):1223-1226. doi:10.1097/INF.0000000000002002
  6. Gossack-Keenan KL, Kam AJ. Toxic shock syndrome: still a timely diagnosis. Pediatr Emerg Care. 2020;36(3):e163-e165. doi:10.1097/PEC.0000000000001310
  7. Food & Drug Administration. The facts on tampons—and how to use them safely.
  8. National Organization for Rare Disorders. Toxic shock syndrome.

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