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Fragrance and toxic chemicals in feminine care products

Woman health,
Fragrance and toxic chemicals in feminine care products

This is the first of many articles’ on topics related to woman’s health and comfort during the menstruations.  

Working with feminine care products for almost a decade I have met many women who suffer from allergies and skin irritation during menstruation. Not all of them connect these ailments to menstrual pads or tampons. 

The most upsetting story I heard from a mother who talked with tears in her eyes that gynecologist recommend her teen daughter to use menstrual pads with chamomile essence (fragrance), but after using these pads girl developed even worse skin reaction. 


“Scented”, “clean scent”, “lightly scented”, “lotion”, “cream”, “essence”, “odor neutralizing”, “aroma”, “perfume”, “deodorant” – if you see these words on the package and can smell the flowers, that mean the fragrance is used for the scent. 

So what is wrong with the fragrance? Why should you avoid it in your hygiene products? 

“Fragrance” is a combination of ingredients that can be derived from petroleum or natural raw materials. There are thousands of materials used for fragrance compounds. Some chemicals in the fragrance are linked to serious health problems such as cancer, reproductive and developmental toxicity, allergies and sensitivities. 

Several studies have found an association between menstrual pad use and vulvar irritation, rash, burning sensation or contact dermatitis. It was found that skin reaction could be caused by fragrance, adhesive or unknown chemicals. Unfortunately fragrance list usually is kept secret by manufacturers, and you won’t find ingredients list on the packages.


Skin of our intimate parts is much more sensitive than the skin on the rest of our body. There are mucous membranes, which serve an immune defense function, creating a barrier against bacteria or viruses which could lead to disease, and this barrier can be easily disrupted when using scented, colored, unbreathable, synthetic hygiene products. The vaginal walls are filled with blood vessels and lymphatic vessels. Because of this feature toxic chemicals can be rapidly absorbed and circulated through the rest of the body. Feminine care products come in direct contact with our most sensitive skin. There for what you are choosing for your hygiene reflects on your health too. And maybe you are not getting allergy from scented products right away, but you are putting yourself at risk to develop skin sensitivity over time. 


For your intimate parts choose only unscented, uncolored pads, liners, tampons or even toilet paper. If you find any of these words ”scented”, “cream”, “lotion”, “fragrance”, “essence”, “aroma”, “ perfume”, “deodorant” on the package or you feel flowery smell always try to avoid such products. Some women who are sensitive to fragrances should also avoid bubble baths, scented wet wipes, douches, deodorants and some fabric detergents and softeners. 

Choose eco or organically certified feminine hygiene products. They have been tested for harmful chemicals; there for you can be sure they are safe to your body.

To avoid bad odor during menstruation choose breathable pads and change them frequently, at least every 4 hours, and when changing a pad wash your private parts with water, or use unscented intimate wipes. 

Take care of your health; choose your feminine products wisely.

International Fragrance Association (IFRA) (2013) IFRA Survey: Transparency List. Available at: ingredients
Larsen, WG (1979) Sanitary napkin dermatitis due to the perfume. Archives of Dermatology. Vol. 115, pp: 46. March 1979 45 Williams, JD, Frowen, KE and Nixon, RL (2007) Allergic contact dermatitis from methyldibromo glutaronitrile in a sanitary pad and review of Australian clinic data. Contact Dermatitis. Vol 56, pp: 164-167. 2007

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George Martin Jr
George Martin Jr
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