A recent study revealed that some of the most popular sanitary napkin brands in India contain harmful, and even cancer-causing chemicals. Surely enough, this made headlines and urged many women to reconsider their use of sanitary napkins altogether. And, while there are plenty of other period products on the market, the truth is, that most sanitary pad users aren’t comfortable with the idea of switching to a menstrual cup, disc, or tampon. The period experience of these products is completely different.
So, in a country where 77.6% of women would prefer to use sanitary pads (named, and local brands included), what’s the alternative if you don’t want to make the switch? Let’s find out!
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6 Things That Make Up The Anatomy of Your Sanitary Pad
A sanitary pad is the unsung hero of every menstruator’s life! So, first, let’s take a look at the ingredients from which these napkins are made—and, are they toxic?
1. Absorbent Core:
While the absorbent core is crucial for soaking up menstrual flow, some sanitary pads may contain superabsorbent polymers (SAPs) that can be potentially harmful. SAPs can generate heat as they absorb liquid, which might cause discomfort or irritation for some individuals with sensitive skin. In fact, the use of SAPs is restricted in tampons in the USA because of their link to toxic shock syndrome.
2. Fragrances & Dyes:
Fragrances and dyes added for aesthetic purposes can be quite problematic. Dioxins, which are used to bleach the super absorbent layer, have been linked with a whole host of side effects and conditions like pelvic inflammatory disease, compromised immune system, impaired fertility, and even ovarian cancer. On the other end, the artificial fragrances added to prevent odour can irritate sensitive skin in your intimate area.
3. Top Sheet:
The top sheet, often made from synthetic fabrics like polypropylene, can be a source of concern. Synthetic materials may not allow proper airflow, acting as a breeding ground for infections during that time of the month. Some individuals may be sensitive to these materials, causing itching or redness.
4. Back Sheet:
The back sheet, designed to prevent leaks, is typically made from polyethene or similar waterproof materials. While this is essential for hygiene, it is non-biodegradable and contributes to environmental concerns. Prolonged exposure to such materials in landfills can lead to environmental damage.
Adhesives used to secure the pad in underwear are generally safe for skin contact. However, in rare cases, some individuals may be sensitive or allergic to the adhesive, leading to skin irritation or rashes.
6. Synthetic Fabrics:
Synthetic materials like polyester or polyethene used in various parts of the pad may not be biodegradable. Improper disposal of pads containing these materials can contribute to environmental pollution and the persistence of non-biodegradable waste in landfills.
Shop Papaya Biodegradable Pads Here
3 Non-Toxic and Eco-Friendly Alternatives To The Regular Sanitary Pad
If you’re looking for period products that are safe for use, environmentally friendly, and within the comfort zone of sanitary napkins, then here are three alternatives you should consider:
1. Papaya Biodegradable Sanitary Pads (XL Pack Of 9)
The easiest and best option if you don’t want to make a switch is to opt for non-toxic, antimicrobial, chemical-free, biodegradable pads—like these ones from Papaya. They don’t contain any harmful chemicals, harsh dyes, or added fragrances.
Their non-toxic anti-microbial materials and a breathable back sheet prevent the growth of bacteria, which means no odour. Also, they’re super soft and devoid of any plastics—great for your hoo-ha, and great for the environment. And that’s why, they’re our top pick!
“Cups or tampons weren’t working for me and I was legit upset that I was adding to the plastic landfill – until I discovered Papaya! I feel much better down there and have guilt-free periods now, knowing that I’m doing my part to save the environment.” – Nidhi Shah
Price: Rs 248 (Pack of 9)
Buy Papaya Biodegradable Sanitary Pads NOW.
2. Reusable Period Panty From Sirona
Period panties are designed with built-in absorbent layers made from organic and chemical-free materials to offer leak-resistant protection without the need for pads. If you’re comfortable washing off the menstrual blood and panty for reuse, this might be a good option for you.
The Sirona period panty is a reusable, leak-proof underwear that is made of soft, breathable fabric and is available in sizes Medium, Large, XL, and XXL. It has a 4-layer design that helps to trap moisture and prevent leaks. It is also odour-resistant and can be worn for up to 12 hours.
“The period panty is a lifesaver! I can finally wear white pants without worrying about leaks.” – Reetika Sarraf
Price: Rs 749 (Pack of 1, Medium)
Buy the Reusable Period Panty from Sirona
3. PeeSafe Reusable Cloth Menstrual Pads
Cloth pads are reusable and made from soft, breathable fabrics like organic cotton. They are free from chemicals and synthetic materials and can be washed and reused, making them eco-friendly and cost-effective.
The ones by PeeSafe have a wing-style design, buttons to secure the pad, an antibacterial top sheet, and a super-absorbent layer. They’re eco-friendly and can be reusable for up to 1 year if washed and sun-dried thoroughly after each use.
“Extremely comfortable to use. Easy to clean and reuse. Good for our health and environment.” – Sonal Dahatonde
Price: Rs 329 (Pack of 4)
Buy the Reusable Menstrual Pads from PeeSafe
Understanding the composition of sanitary pads is important for both your menstrual and sexual health. While these pads are essential in our lives, being aware of the potentially toxic elements in some of them is equally crucial. Whether you want to make the switch for your health, for the environment, or even to try alternatives that might pleasantly surprise you, there are alternatives to the conventional, and sometimes unsafe, sanitary pads in the market. Make informed choices for a safer and more sustainable period experience!
Shop for Papaya’s biodegradable menstrual pads here.
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