Feminine hygiene products may expose women to toxic chemicals

A recent study has shown that products used by women for feminine hygiene can leech highly toxic chemical compounds into their systems.

The study, which was published in the Journal of Women's Health, used data from 2,432 women aged 20 to 49. Researchers used the participants' biomarkers to establish a link between the use of feminine hygiene products and exposure to volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

VOCs are chemicals used in a wide range of products, including deodorants, nail polish and paint. Some of these chemicals have been associated with respiratory symptoms, some cancers and neurological disorders, and deleterious effects on the reproductive system.

The feminine products studied included the soaps in vaginal douches, deodorizing vaginal powders and sprays, as well as tampons and sanitary pads.

Focusing on the potentially carcinogenic VOC 1,4-dichlorobenzene, the study showed that women who used a vaginal douche two or more times per month had concentrations 81 percent higher than non-users.

Participants who restricted their douching practice to an average of once a month saw a concentration of 18 percent higher than women who abstain.

The use of deodorizing vaginal powders in the last 12 months was associated with higher blood levels (36 percent) of ethylbenzene, a compound that is highly toxic if inhaled.

Though additional research is still required, the researchers advised women follow the recommendation from the American Society for Obstetricians and Gynecologist not to use certain products such as vaginal douches and feminine powders.

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