June 11, 2021

Feminine Hygiene Products: Are They Safe?

As the interest in natural and organic products continues to rise, many of our patients often ask us about product effectiveness and safety. 

While women often inquire about natural cramp relief remedies because they are concerned about ingredients and safety, we receive many questions about women’s care and feminine hygiene products. 

So, let’s discuss the most common safety concerns about feminine hygiene products and women’s health.

Safety Concerns

According to the FDA, tampons and pads are medical devices. Like other medical devices, the FDA classifies pads and tampons based on the amount of risk they pose. The least risky are class I, while the most risky are class III. The FDA considers tampons to be class II devices. While that may not seem that great, keep in mind that thermometers and blood pressure cuffs are also class II devices. 

Pads are class I or II, generally depending on whether they have any fragrance. While it’s recommended that tampon and pad manufacturers submit a list of materials used to make their products, such as chemicals, additives, and finishing agents. It’s also recommended  to conduct an analysis of the risk of vaginal injury, tissue reactions, and infections. 

However, it is not required to take all of these measures. In addition, the FDA also asks for, but doesn’t require, testing to make sure the products don’t cause reactions or help with the growth of bacteria, such as those that cause TSS (toxic shock syndrome). It’s no wonder that people are concerned about the health and safety of feminine hygiene products. 

Women want to know for a fact that a product is safe to use, not simply have faith that companies and manufacturers are making safe products. Fortunately, the FDA does regulate feminine hygiene products that are considered drugs or cosmetics, such as douches and feminine washes. Unlike medical devices, cosmetics are required to list ingredients on their labels. For the time being, the FDA has no plans to change how it regulates sanitary or feminine hygiene products.

Woman confused looking at feminine hygiene products in a store.

In a sea of period products, it can be overwhelming trying to figure out which products are right for your body.

What You Can Do

If you feel unsure about the safety of your sanitary products, we recommend opting for pads rather than tampons. Since pads are not inserted into the body, they pose far less risk than tampons. You can also opt for sanitary products from businesses that are completely transparent about their materials and manufacturing. 

There are plenty of alternatives to the big name brands, and these smaller businesses often use 100% organic cotton and no risky chemicals. If you’re concerned about the environmental impact of using so many disposable hygiene products a month, there are also businesses that make washable cotton menstrual pads. These reusable options are often handmade from organic and natural ingredients.

Speaking of feminine hygiene, another hot topic in the South Miami women’s health discourse is that of “douching”. We advise against women doing this. An important part of women’s care is knowing how your body works and understanding basic anatomy. The vagina is a self-cleaning organ, so it does not need any special cleaning liquids or soaps. 

Using douches puts you at risk of imbalancing the natural cleaning process of your vagina. They aren’t necessary and often do more harm than good, resulting in irritation, bacterial vaginosis, or a yeast infection. It even increases your chances of pushing STIs upwards toward the fallopian tubes and can cause pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) that can cause infertility. Keep in mind that the vagina is not the same organ as your labia. 

Your labia, especially if you choose to grow out your pubic hair, can collect discharge, sweat and bacteria. If you want to keep your labia more clean and fresh, all you should do is gently clean the folds with a plain, soft washcloth and water. Wanna freshen up your labia while on your period? Try feminine wipes. These wipes can be used to clean the blood from the vulva whether you are home or out on the go. You can also use them after a workout to wipe away sweat.

South Miami Women’s Health | Women’s Care in Florida

Whether you’re looking for natural cramp relief or more eco-friendly menstrual products, Dr. Susan Fox can help you decide what’s right for your body. Our women’s care team in Florida is ready to serve you and meet your health needs. Give us a call today and book an appointment with us!

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