Feminine hygiene products: A harmful money-maker

Feminine hygiene productsCC: Annie Spratt at Unsplash

According to the latest figures, the feminine hygiene product market will be worth $42.7-billion by 2022. Although there’s no evidence to suggest that they’re necessary, specialist vaginal washes and wipes prove popular. To add to this, celebrities promote the use of alternative products and techniques, including vaginal steaming.

While feminine hygiene products may seem harmless enough, they do have adverse side effects. Before you rush to buy the latest releases, you may want to learn more about their hidden dangers.

What are feminine hygiene products?

For the sake of clarity, the feminine hygiene products being discussed here don’t include sanitary towels or tampons. Instead, we’re focusing on washes, wipes, sprays, and steaming devices.

The aim of your average feminine hygiene product often varies. Some claim to maintain cleanliness, while others proport to introduce a new scent. At the more ridiculous end of the scale, there’s vaginal steaming. According to those who promote it, vaginal steaming cleanses the vaginal canal and uterus.

Despite their claims, feminine hygiene products are not necessary

Although those who are cashing in on this billion dollar industry promote the idea their products are necessary, nothing could be further from the truth. All vaginal canals benefit from lactobacilli. Like the friendly bacteria you’ll find elsewhere in your body, they maintain a fine balance. When allowed to remain at normal levels, they prevent infection, increase your chances of fertility, and reduce your risk of UTIs and conditions such as thrush.

As for your uterus, it sheds its lining every month during menstruation. Of course, this may vary between women depending on their hormonal state, contraceptive choices, and health conditions. The point is, you should rest assured it is self-regulating in most women.

Unfortunately, the use of feminine hygiene products alters your lactobacilli levels. And as most people could guess, vaginal steaming presents plenty of problems.

Why are feminine hygiene products harmful?

When you introduce soaps and perfumed products to the vulva and vaginal canal, they disrupt your lactobacilli levels. It’s for this reason you may hear your physician say not to use bubble bath if you keep developing a UTI. A reduction in lactobacilli may also result in thrush, which is both uncomfortable and expensive to treat if you encounter repeat incidents. There’s also a heightened risk of bacterial vaginosis, which in some cases may escalate to pelvic inflammatory disease. Theoretically, the development of PID can hamper fertility.

On a worrying level, disrupting your lactobacilli and encountering one of the conditions above can mask the signs of other more serious conditions. All of the aches, itching, and discharge may be attributed to conditions where there’s a low risk when you actually have something bigger to worry about.

As for vaginal steaming, you’re at risk of burning the delicate tissue that lines your vaginal canal. Once damaged, it gives way to scar tissue, which isn’t as supple and is more prone to breakages. This can lead to uncomfortable mid-cycle bleeding and uncomfortable intercourse. The same risks come with douching, too.

With all this in mind, it may be worth stepping away from feminine hygiene products. So what do you need to do to stay clean? Just use clear running water, preferably in the shower. Alongside your lactobacilli, it’s more than enough for regulating your feminine hygiene.

About the Author

Laura McKeever
Laura has been a freelance medical writer for eight years. With a BSc in Medical Sciences and an MSc in Physician Assistant Studies, she complements her passion for medical news with real-life experiences. Laura’s most significant experience included writing for international pharmaceutical brands, including GSK.