Healthier feminine hygiene
This may be a yucky subject for some, but will be of interest to those who care about their health.
Disposable menstrual pads are believed to have had roots on American battlefields, when medics figured the same bandages used to cover soldiers' wounds could be repurposed to stanch women's monthly flow. According to Wikipidea, the first commercially available American disposable napkins were Lister's Towels created by Johnson & Johnson in 1896.
With that long history, few question the wisdom of reaching for those handy disposables. The alternative—washing reusable cloth—is almost unthinkable, both in terms of time and ick factor.
After becoming aware of the health hazards associated with disposable pads and tampons, Tomomi Hasegawa, a beauty specialist in Japan, decided her health was more important than any inconvenience that comes with reusable products.
A typical commercial pad contains the equivalent of about four plastic bags and plasticizing chemicals like BPA and BPS that disrupt embryonic development, that are also linked to heart disease and cancer. On the other side of that argument, the FDA has also performed its own research and reviewed hundreds of studies about BPA’s safety, and while acknowledging additional research is underway to enhance understanding of BPA, the FDA continues to support the safety of BPA for currently approved uses in food containers and packaging. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention also reports that typical consumer exposure to BPA is 1,000 times below the safe limit established by government scientists.
But tampons and pads are also bleached to achieve the clean white look we prize. Chlorine is often used, but chlorine breaks down into dioxin, a deadly toxin. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, there is no safe level of exposure for dioxin. It accumulate in fatty tissues, and even at low levels have been linked to abnormal tissue growth in the abdomen and reproductive organs, abnormal cell growth, immune system suppression and hormonal and endocrine system disruption. Because mucous membranes in the vaginal area are permeable, chemicals are easily absorbed.
Going organic means washing and looking at the blood, but Hasegawa says that's a beautiful thing. Through an interpreter, she said, "It's looking at yourself."
Hasegawa made the decision to adopt a natural, more healthful and green approach to deal with menstrual blood, and has since created Lumiere, a line of organic cotton feminine hygiene products. She does not offer or recommend tampons, which carry the risk of toxic shock syndrome.
She was in Hawaii last month to introduce the concept at Green Spa Hawaii, where a starter $44 kit comes with a napkin holder and two liners.
While the price point may seem higher than what women pay for disposable products, these products can be reused multiple times and represent an investment in your long-term health, as well as the environment.
Green Spa Hawaii is in the Ala Moana Building at 1441 Kapiolani Blvd. Call (808) 931-0709. Visit www.greenspahawaii.com.
Nadine Kam is Style Editor and staff restaurant critic at the Honolulu Star-Advertiser; her coverage is in print on Wednesdays and Thursdays. Contact her via email at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on Twitter, Instagram and Rebel Mouse.