what is feminine hygiene and how do I use it?
Feminine hygiene, or sanitary protection, is the name given to products, such as tampons and pads, used to protect clothes from the blood lost during a period. It also includes panty liners and feminine wipes.
Tampons are worn inside the vagina and can be inserted using your longest finger or by using a special applicator that is made from plastic or card. You will need to read the instruction leaflet carefully before using tampons because they have been associated with a condition called Toxic Shock Syndrome. Most tampons that are sold in the stores are made from synthetic materials such as viscose or rayon, or a mixture of rayon with some conventionally grown cotton, and polypropylene. Natracare tampons are made from only certified organic 100% cotton.
Pads are worn inside the pants and stay in place by sticking to your underwear. They absorb the blood after it has passed through the vagina and out of the body. There are different types and absorbencies available. Most pads are made using synthetic materials like polypropylene and plastic, and use a super absorbent material that is made from petroleum and are, therefore, not biodegradable or compostable. Natracare menstrual pads are made from only natural materials that are produced without the use of damaging chlorine bleaches, and are compostable and over 95% biodegradable.
Panty Liners are a matter of choice for women. They can be worn together with a tampon for extra security, at the very end of a period when blood loss is so small that a pad or tampon is not required, or they can be used to keep dry and fresh when travelling.
why should I change from the feminine hygiene products that I am using?
You should read the packaging carefully to try to find out what the tampons and pads you are using are made from. Most are made from synthetic materials that are bleached with harsh and environment damaging chemicals called chlorines that produce toxic chemicals in the environment called Dioxin. Try to avoid tampons made from synthetic materials like rayon and viscose and pads that use lots of plastic, and synthetic materials that claim to be “cotton-like” as they are largely made from synthetic materials that are almost impossible to dispose of in the environment. Organic cotton tampons and plastic and chemical-free pads are recommended by many gynaecologists in order to avoid the risk of irritation or allergic reaction caused by exposure to synthetic materials and chemicals.
why are Natracare tampons made from organic cotton?
26% of the world’s pesticide is sprayed on cotton. These pesticides have been shown to affect the health of wildlife and humans in a devastating way, and as a result, more and more people are worried about the use of pesticides in farming and choose to buy organic produce wherever possible. Conventionally grown cotton is sprayed with many pesticides that release toxins, including dioxin, into the environment, leaving residuals in the cotton.
Cotton is grown around the world, and in many Third World countries, up to 70 per cent of farm workers include children aged five-15, and many teenagers are actively involved in pesticide spraying. In addition to the practice of spraying, 50% of the conventional cotton grown in the world is genetically modified.
Pesticides have been linked to infertility, suicidal depression and the most horrific birth defects imaginable.
It is time”, insists Moyra Bremner, “that we realise that choosing the organic option is not simply a ‘lifestyle’ choice, but a matter of life over death”. You can read her article, which first appeared in the Ecologist.
Organic cotton avoids the practice of spraying crops with these pesticides, and organic standards do not permit the use of genetically modified cotton. Natracare tampons are made from only certified organic cotton because we believe it to be a safer and more ethical choice. Organic farming, which does not permit the use of genetically modified materials, helps prevent topsoil erosion, improves soil fertility, protects groundwater, and conserves energy.
do you use any latex in your products?
Natracare never uses latex. Without enforced labelling of feminine hygiene products, it is difficult for women with latex allergy to find out that there are some sanitary pads and liners available today that do use latex in their products. Latex can be used to make the wings on pads more flexible, or it can be used as a binder in the cover that is used on the surface of pads and liners, where it is in close contact with the skin.
personal hygiene is important so do I need to use feminine deodorants, wipes and perfumed pads or tampons?
The vagina is a delicately balanced mini-ecosystem. The vagina is lined with a protective and self-cleansing mucous membrane. A healthy vagina contains numerous microorganisms, among them Lacto-bacilli, which helps to create slightly acidic conditions that prevent infection by numerous disease-causing organisms – so it is important not to upset the pH (acidity) of the vagina by using most soaps and foaming bath products.
Many feminine deodorants and wipes contain harsh chemicals and preservatives that can have a drying and irritating effect, so try to avoid these products. If you need to freshen up, try the Natracare organic cotton intimate wipes with certified organic essential oils that are pH balanced and biodegradable. You never need to use a deodorised sanitary pad or tampon. Apart from being unnecessary, if you had a problem that needed to be checked out by a doctor, often the first sign is a change in the vaginal odour, and these products may mask the early symptoms.
During menstruation, it is very important to wash yourself carefully to keep the genitals clean and fresh in order to prevent odour from stale blood. Change your tampons and pads regularly, and avoid continuous use of tampons. That is, if you use tampons during the day, then do not use them at night. Use a sanitary pad instead. If you use tampons at night, do not use them through the day also. Alternate with sanitary pads. This will help you to avoid the risk of developing Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS) and keep you in touch with how your period is progressing.
why do you use Bioplastic in your pads and liners?
The plastic that other products use in their pads and liners is called polyethylene, or PE for short. It is made from petroleum, which is a limited and polluting energy source. To make this PE, the industry has to use all types of damaging and polluting chemicals. The finished PE is indestructible. It will remain in the environment, visually polluting and damaging wildlife, for hundreds of years. Because sanitary pads and liners need to have a barrier to stop leakage, Natracare chose to use a totally biodegradable material called Bioplastic that is made from plant cellulose. It works just the same as the PE plastics, but will biodegrade.
some pads say they are “cotton-like”, does this mean they are made from cotton?
No, they are not made from cotton and neither do they contain any cotton fibres. Using this term is a way of tricking you into thinking that it is made from cotton without actually breaking the trade description laws. The “cotton-like” covers are made of synthetic materials.
why does Natracare use fluff pulp inside of the pads instead of cotton?
Although we use certified organic cotton for the top sheet of natracare pads and liners, we do not use cotton in the core of the pads for two very good reasons:
firstly, cotton performs very poorly in the core of a pad as an absorbent material simply because of its fibre chemistry. Cotton fibres are 70% crystalline and only 30% amorphous whereas fluff pulp derived from pine wood is 70% amorphous and 30% crystalline.
The type of structure determines how easily the fibres absorb liquid (how amorphous it is) and the crystalline parts of a fibre prevent the absorption of fluids. Therefore, for the best performance in a sanitary pad or liner, the core needs to contain a high proportion of amorphous fibres so that liquid can be absorbed quickly and all across the core. Cotton cannot do this which is why Natracare uses only totally chlorine-free fluff pulp in the core of its sanitary pads and liners but wraps the core in certified organic, 100% cotton.
secondly, it is a matter of carbon management. All plants absorb carbon dioxide, but trees are best because they process significantly more CO2 as part of photosynthesis than smaller plants due to their large size and extensive root structures. Trees have much more “woody biomass” to store CO2 than smaller plants and are also able to store carbon in the forests soils. As a result, trees are considered nature’s most efficient “carbon sinks.”
During a tree’s growing phase, it quickly absorbs carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, locking it away and giving us back oxygen. Sustainably harvesting Scandinavian softwood trees does help in the sequestration of carbon (locking carbon out of the atmosphere).
Natracare uses only fluff pulp made from fast growing, Scandinavian softwood trees sourced from sustainable, managed, natural forests
what are other tampons made from?
If you are not using Natracare certified organic cotton tampons, the tampons you are using are probably chlorine-bleached and made from either 100% rayon or a mixture of conventionally grown cotton and rayon. If the withdrawal cord of your tampon is coloured, it has been dyed, possibly using azo dyes, which use heavy metals in the dye production process with the potential for heavy metal residuals in the string. Considering that a woman uses over 11,000 tampons in her lifetime, the issue of how the tampon is made and from what is an important health and environmental consideration for women.