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Feminine care products: Toxic!

by Nieve Shere, L.Ac.

I received this report from the latest newsletter from the Collaborative on Health and The Environment (, an organization with the primary goal to share latest research and development on health and the environment, promoting public health interest and faciliating interdisciplinary communication to improve human health across the lifespan.  

We’ve been talking about it for a while now – and the time has finally come. Our new report, Chem Fatale: Potential Health Effects of Toxic Chemicals in Feminine Care Products is out today! The report examines unregulated toxic chemicals in tampons, pads, wipes, sprays, douches and other feminine care products.

Chemicals of concern commonly found in these products include cancer-causing chemicals, reproductive toxins, hormone disruptors, and allergens. AND – these chemicals are coming into contact with some of the most absorptive skin on our bodies!

Some shocking highlights from the report:

While pads and tampons are used almost universally by all women, Black and Latina women use some feminine products like douches, wipes, and sprays in greater numbers than white women, meaning these women are disproportionately impacted by toxic chemicals in these products.

Pads and tampons are regulated as medical devices, which means that companies don’t have to disclose any ingredients in these products.

Other feminine care products are regulated as personal care products, which means that companies are legally allowed to keep fragrance ingredients a secret from you – even the toxic ones.

Test results show dioxins, furans and pesticide residues in tampons, which have been linked to cancer, reproductive harm and endocrine disruption.

Lots of feminine care products contain formaldehyde-releasing preservatives, and formaldehyde is a carcinogen and a potent allergen.

Common chemicals in feminine washes are regulated by the FDA as safe “for external use only.” However, it is extremely likely that some internal vaginal exposure will occur from regular use.
We know that feminine care products don’t come up a whole lot in polite conversation. No one really likes to talk about them. As a result, we believe they are not getting the attention or oversight they deserve to make sure they’re actually safe.

That’s why we’re talking about it. Toxic chemicals have no place in feminine care products. Period. And we’re going to do something about it.

Join us in asking Procter & Gamble, makers of Tampax tampons and Always pads, to disclose the ingredients in those products and remove toxic chemicals linked to women’s health problems.

While we’re working on getting companies to make safer products, check out the Chem Fatale report for:
tips on reducing your exposure to harmful chemicals in feminine care products
Hall of Shame of the most toxic products
list of chemicals of concern to avoid in these products


Written by Alex Scranton
Director of Science and Research