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What is really in disposable pads?

What is really in disposable pads?

A year ago I had never even thought about the fact that there could be toxins in disposable pads and tampons. Why would there be? I just assumed that the people making them had my best interest at heart, how very naive of me. One of the things that astounded me was the fact that one pad is estimated to have the same amount of plastic as 4 plastic bags. [1]


As vaginal tissue is some of the most permeable in the body and has a direct route to our reproductive organs [4] extra care should be taken to ensure what is being absorbed isn’t harmful to our bodies. However for most of us who are unaware of this issue or don’t have access to other options this isn’t the case at all.


Pads containing synthetics and plastic don’t allow air flow, are hot and damp and this can promote the growth of bacteria and yeast. [2] Some of you may know already that pads are not regulated by the TGA here in Australia so companies aren't required to disclose all the ingredients. [3] Shocking isn't it?


The owner of hannahpad came across some disposable pads while travelling internationally and the first three ingredients were bleached wood pulp, hot brand adhesive and petrochemical liner. Imagine what these toxic ingredients could be doing to our body when coming in contact with our skin every month!

plastic landfills


Manufacturers products will vary but here is a list of nasties that could be hiding in your menstrual products:

  • Styrene, chloroethane and chloroform. The World Health Organisation classifies styrene as a carcinogen [4]

  • Rayon is a synthetic and a byproduct of the material is dioxin, which the EPA says is a likely carcinogenic. The use of pads means that dioxins can be absorbed through the vagina and straight into the bloodstream. [4]

  • Super absorbent foam, flex foam, fibre finishes and fragrances are other ingredients that don't list any other details. The companies are not being transparent about the toxins hidden in our menstrual products. [4]

  • BPA and BPS disrupt embryonic development and are linked to heart disease and cancer [5]

  • Chlorine is commonly used to bleach the pads and give them the consistent white finish. This produces dioxins as a byproduct. [5]

  • Pesticides and GMOs are found in the cotton used in disposable pads and this can directly permeate the vaginal membrane. [5]

  • Infinicel is a patented ingredient that can absorb 10 times its weight. [5]

  • The cotton used can be genetically engineered (meaning containing GMOs) and sprayed with pesticides.


There are many data gaps in all this research available. Without knowing exactly what products are safe to use and which contain harmful ingredients we recommend always choosing an option that you can rely on being organically produced with no pesticides, no added dyes and no added fragrances. Remember that a single item used might not be harmful but over a lifetime it is estimated 12,000 pads can be used per person which is exposing yourself to unknown harms 12,000 times.


If you haven’t yet tried reusable menstrual products that are safe for your body and the environment challenge yourself to give them a go.



hannahpads are made of certified organic cotton that is unbleached and non-dyed which makes it safer to sit against your delicate skin but is still great for constructing the absorption layers in the core of the pad. All the cotton used in the production of the pads are certified by the Control Union, a globally recognised inspection facility. The outer layer has a special TPU coating on the inside to prevent leaks. TPU is the safest product to use due to it being the same grade TPU that is used for medical devices in hospitals. 


Just remember to always look for certified organic!

organic certification


#my uterus loves accurate labels











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