Top 10 List for Healthier Periods

By Elaine Kao, CEO & Founder of Lilli Pads, Organic Hygiene

The tragic news of a 16-year old British Columbian girl who has passed away from Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS) is a crucial reminder that we must be vigilant with the types of products that we use when it comes to our period . Sara Manitoski passed away on an overnight school trip 1 in 2017 with autopsy reports indicating toxic shock syndrome to be the cause of death, with a strain bacteria, staphylococcus aureus, found on a tampon that was inside her body.

As stated by a clinical microbiology and pathology professor at New York University, Philip Tierno, “Synthetic fibers cause the production of large quantities of toxins absorbed by the vaginal mucosa.” Because synthetic fibers are more absorbent than cotton; the materials concentrate menstrual proteins to a greater degree than cotton and provide “an incredibly perfect physico-chemical environment” for toxin production. 

To exacerbate the problems associated with TSS, the vagina and the external reproductive region is one of the most sensitive and absorbent regions of the entire human body. In some scientific studies, prescriptions taken vaginally are up to ten times more effective than receiving dosages orally. Given that many conventional tampons may be treated with substances such 5 as dioxins, phthalates and insecticides, which are detrimental to human health, there is an even greater importance to pay attention to what goes into your body . If you are conscious of what 6 you are eat, why should paying attention to what goes inside of your body be any different?


Conventional sanitary pads may be an equally culpable source for vaginal irritation. Common issues among women using menstrual pads include itching, chafing and allergic reactions due to their material composition . There have also been several studies which contain reported cases of women contracting contact dermatitis due to pad use . Such irritation can stem from allergens and fragrances found in these products.

To address the problems associated with conventional period products, here are some useful tips for healthier period management:

1) Wash your hands before and after changing your hygiene products:

Bacteria on your hands may easily transfer to and from your products.

2) Wear fragrance-free certified organic cotton pads:

Fragrances may be a key irritant when it comes to pad use. By wearing certified organic pads, you can ensure that your products are hypoallergenic and do not irritate the external region of your reproductive area. Most conventional pads are made with petroleum-based plastics, which is another cause for skin inflammation and chafing. Lilli Pads Organic Hygiene (link below) produces hypoallergenic pads made from organic cotton which is specifically made for women who have sensitivities during their period.

3) Wear certified organic tampons:

To help combat TSS, it is important to avoid using tampons made with cellulose rayon, which contain super-absorbent fibers that may cling onto the vaginal walls even after the removal of the actual product. Furthermore, by having a regulatory body such as GOTS label indicating that it is made from organic cotton, you can be assured that there are no harmful or toxic chemicals that are used in the treatment of the tampon. In his decades of research, Philip Tierno, microbiologist and pathology professor at New York University, has never seen a case of TSS from use of all-cotton tampons . 

Pads also carries organic tampons in its daily wear line.

4) Change your tampons often and do not leave them in for extended periods of time: It

is crucial that you do not leave your tampon inside your body overnight, as the longer you keep your tampon in, the greater likelihood that your tampon becomes a breeding area for bacteria. The recommended time to change tampons ranges between 3 – 5 hours.

5) Refrain from using an absorbency level in your tampon that is greater than your actual flow:

Using super absorbent tampons when you are on a light flow may increase dryness in your vagina. Furthermore, using a super absorbent tampon made from cellulose rayon may also disrupt the flora and fauna balance within your reproductive area.

6) Inspect your tampon to ensure that there is no plastic lining used:

Some tampon products may come with a plastic liner. More specifically, this plastic liner is not the applicator but appears as a clear, plastic ring surrounding the absorbency core. It is imperative that you do not use these types of tampons, as the plastic lining may leach into your body. Given that your body is operating at 37 degrees celsius, there may be a possibility of greater absorbency of the plastic inside of your body.

7) For re-useable products, ensure that soaps and detergents used while cleaning are

safe for your body: If you are using soaps or detergents to clean your cup/cloth pads, you should also pay attention to whether or not these products contain chemicals or irritants that may adversely impact your body. It is best to use organic soaps/cleaning detergents and that the water that you are cleaning your products with is either filtered, or coming from a source that you know for a fact is clean and free of bacteria.

8) Take a warm bath or have a hot water bottle for relief: Some natural ways to manage

menstrual cramping can be to submerge yourself into hot water or to apply some hot water onto the area where you are cramping. The heat from the water can help your muscles re- lax.

9) Eat some dark chocolate:

Eating dark chocolate (with minimal sugar) can help release hormones called endorphins, which is a type of chemical that can reduce the amount of perceived pain and improve your mood. Added bonus: Chocolate also helps you keep your cravings at bay, so it can double as an appetite suppressant, especially if you have had a busy day.

10) Supplement with Iron rich nutrients:

Go for foods that have high iron content including

dark leafy greens such as spinach or kale, or organ meats like liver to help replenish yourself during this time. This is especially important as menstruation means that you are losing blood, so having an iron rich diet can help keep you energized and less fatigued.


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