No ev­i­dence or­ganic fem­i­nine prod­ucts al­ter pe­ri­ods

USA TODAY US Edition - - LIFE - Rasha Ali

Let’s be real: No one en­joys hav­ing pe­ri­ods. So if there’s any­thing out there that can make them lighter, shorter, less painful or prac­ti­cally nonex­is­tent, we’re all for it.

But a tweet claim­ing that or­ganic pads and tam­pons short­ened a young woman’s pe­riod by about three days and changed her flow ig­nited a de­bate over whether that was even pos­si­ble.

“Or­ganic tam­pons and pads short­ened my pe­ri­ods from 7-8 days to 4 days !!!!! ” wrote the woman who goes by “young hi­lary banks” on Twit­ter. “Ladies please switch to or­ganic and stop putting dan­ger­ous prod­ucts full of can­cer caus­ing chem­i­cals in your body !!!!! ”

Re­sponses in­cluded women con­firm­ing they saw their cy­cles short­ened by switch­ing to or­ganic fem­i­nine hy­giene prod­ucts and those who crit­i­cized her for spew­ing false in­for­ma­tion.

Although or­ganic fem­i­nine hy­giene prod­ucts have only re­cently ap­peared on the mar­ket, the in­ter­est in them is high. Lola, an or­ganic sub­scrip­tion­based tam­pon and pad com­pany, raised $24 mil­lion and even has celebri­ties such as Ser­ena Wil­liams and Lena Dun­ham as in­vestors. Proc­ter & Gam­ble, which owns Al­ways and Tam­pax, just ac­quired This Is L, an­other or­ganic fem­i­nine hy­giene brand, in Fe­bru­ary.

Ac­cord­ing to ex­perts, or­ganic fem­i­nine hy­giene prod­ucts don’t have any ef­fect on a woman’s men­strual cycle.

Dr. Daniel M. Bre­itkopf, an OB/GYN at the Mayo Clinic, doesn’t think or­ganic pads al­ter the flow of a pe­riod or shorten a cycle, but there could be an ex­pla­na­tion for or­ganic tam­pons do­ing so.

“The de­vice is go­ing into the body so that could change things, but there’s no scientific ev­i­dence that’s the case,” Bre­itkopf tells USA TO­DAY.

The doc­tor also cited re­call bias to ex­plain why some women thought or­ganic prod­ucts made their cy­cles shorter.

“Men­stru­a­tion can change nat­u­rally from month to month,” he says. “Stress af­fects menses and that’s prob­a­bly the big­gest thing from a month-to-month or year-to-year ba­sis, but menses also change closer to menopause.”

Un­til there’s more quan­tifi­able re­search on the use of or­ganic pads and tam­pons, Bre­itkopf says, we just don’t know how it af­fects men­strual cy­cles.

So when it comes to choos­ing or­ganic hy­giene prod­ucts over reg­u­lar prod­ucts, it comes down to per­sonal pref­er­ence.

In fact, Dr. Sherry Ross, an OB/GYN and au­thor of “she-ol­ogy: The De­fin­i­tive Guide to Women’s In­ti­mate Health. Pe­riod.” says she doesn’t be­lieve or­ganic tam­pons pads gen­er­ally are any “safer” or even nec­es­sary. She says the me­dia and in­ter­net hype over or­ganic prod­ucts have in­flu­enced peo­ple’s per­spec­tive on tra­di­tion­ally man­u­fac­tured tam­pons and pads.

“‘Is or­ganic bet­ter when it comes to us­ing tam­pons?’ is a com­mon ques­tion asked by many of my pa­tients as a re­sult of this hype and un­proven claims about the dan­gers of ev­ery day pur­chased tam­pons used by half the pop­u­la­tion,” Ross says. “Or­ganic tam­pons are avail­able as an al­ter­na­tive for women who pre­fer to go this route. Sim­i­lar to choos­ing or­ganic vegeta­bles, it’s an al­ter­na­tive and not nec­es­sar­ily bet­ter or safer for women.”

When it comes to the safety of tra­di­tional fem­i­nine hy­giene prod­ucts, there doesn’t seem to be any “epi­demics of dis­eases that are as­so­ci­ated with tam­pons at this point,” Bre­itkopf says. He adds that it doesn’t mean there aren’t any, but it hasn’t come up yet or been iden­ti­fied.

Although tam­pons along with other ev­ery­day prod­ucts con­tain trace amounts of con­tam­i­nants, Ross says the risk of de­vel­op­ing can­cer is min­i­mal and there is no scientific ev­i­dence that it poses a threat to a woman’s health.

“The fact is the tam­pon in­dus­try is reg­u­lated,” she says. “Women are pro­tected from tam­pons con­tain­ing ex­ces­sive amounts of as­bestos, dioxin and rayon fibers, which are chem­i­cals that can po­ten­tially cause harm if con­tained in large amounts in tam­pons.”

She adds that the most im­por­tant thing to re­mem­ber with tam­pons, whether or­ganic or tra­di­tional, is to change them ev­ery four to eight hours so you don’t in­crease your risk for toxic shock syn­drome.

Toxic shock syn­drome is a po­ten­tially fatal bac­te­rial in­fec­tion as­so­ci­ated with tam­pon use.

LOIC VENANCE/AFP/GETTY IM­AGES

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