The average person who menstruates uses over 11,000 tampons or pads in their lifetime. Chemicals in these products can enter the body through the permeable vaginal and vulvar tissue, potentially causing hormonal disruptions. Researchers at George Mason University found endocrine-disrupting chemicals in menstrual items, raising concerns about health issues like endometriosis and uterine fibroids.
Marroquin, the paper’s first author, said, “Identifying chemicals in menstrual products that menstruators regularly use is important because exposure through these products can impact menstruators’ reproductive health.”
The study discovered that menstrual products contain harmful chemicals like phthalates, parabens, and dioxins. The proposed Robin Danielson Menstrual Product and Intimate Care Product Safety Act of 2023 highlights this importance which aims to research the risks associated with these substances in menstrual and intimate care products.
This study reviewed 15 papers on menstrual products from 2013 to 2023 in the US, Japan, and South Korea. Few publications measure chemicals in these products, and more research must be done on newly popular items like menstrual underwear, cups, and discs.
The systematic review, published in BJOG in September 2023, included authors from Columbia University and Women’s Voices for the Earth. The research received support from Dr. Pollack’s National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences award.
The research concludes that menstrual products contain a range of endocrine-disrupting chemicals. The study underscores the need for increased awareness and further research, especially in emerging menstrual products like cups and discs, to better understand and mitigate potential health risks associated with EDC exposure during menstruation.
- Joanna Marroquin, Marianthi-Anna Kiomourtzoglou, et al., Chemicals in menstrual products: A systematic review. BJOG: An International journal of obstetrics and gynecology. DOI: 10.1111/1471-0528.17668.