Periods. For many women, that week can be an annoying, messy, and expensive. Menstrual hygiene products are essential for many to have a healthy and happy period – as healthy and happy as periods can get.
However, some are starting to question the safety of these products, as little information is provided about what’s really in them. Many women really don’t know much about the chemicals used to produce their menstrual products. That’s why a group of health activists is working to illuminate the subject.
Earlier this month, Representative Grace Meng, Democrat of New York, introduced a bill called the Menstrual Products Right to Know Act. This act requires menstrual hygiene products such as tampons, pads, and menstrual cups, and therapeutic vaginal douche apparatuses, to include a list of ingredients on the label.
According to The New York Times, members of Women’s Voices for the Earth, a nonprofit organization that focuses on toxic chemicals in feminine care products, recently congregated in Washington D.C. to express their support for the proposed legislation.
Carolyn B. Maloney, another Representative and Democrat from New York, has also reintroduced a bill asking the National Institutes of Health to figure out through the necessary research if the chemicals within feminine hygiene products are safe. Ms. Maloney is now introducing this bill for the 10th time. It has never moved past committee. Due to the nature of the subject and the current divided political climate, hopes for the bill are not very high, but, many supporters are remaining positive that this reintroduction will rally public support.
While the Food and Drug Administration does regulate most hygiene products, “The agency recommends manufacturers provide general information on the label about the material composition of the product – such as whether the product is made of cotton or rayon — but does not require the individual ingredients,” said Deborah Kotz, an F.D.A. spokesperson.
“We want women to be able to know what chemicals are in these products, which come in direct contact with our bodies,” said Meng.
Sarada Tangirala, the National Campaigns Manager for Women’s Voices for the Earth says, “Disclosure of ingredients in pads and tampons right now is entirely voluntary.” Some concerns about these products include the toxins used during the bleaching process. Many wonder if the bleaching toxins, along with the various fragrances and gels added to some tampons and pads, could be harmful.
Research has been conducted on the subject, and most gynecologists strongly advise their patients to use unscented products.
“I call this ‘the other tampon tax,’” said Laura Strausfeld, co-founder of Period Equity, in response to the lack of information given to women about products pertinent to their own health. Having to pay astronomical prices for necessary products that are absolutely not “luxury items” is bad enough. Women should at least know what their menstrual products are made of and whether or not they’re safe.
Until recently, women were not even supposed to talk about their periods, especially around men. Even now, for many it is still an uncomfortable subject. The Menstrual Products Right to Know Act, along with the hard working House Representatives, works to improve the lives of women and change the conversation to a better, more period-friendly discourse about women’s rights to feminine hygiene.
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