I recently received an e-mail from a friend that was a little alarming. It stated that Tampons and maxi pads contain materials that are actually dangerous to a woman’s health. Specifically, Rayon and Dioxin (some even contain asbestos). Is this true? The article also mentioned that there are only 2 or 3 brands of feminine products that are 100% cotton, but these are hard to find and usually only available in major health food stores. Should we be concerned or is this a clever marketing plot on behalf of these alternative products?

Your friend’s e-mail is correct in that virtually all of the feminine hygiene products contain some amount of synthetic materials. However, there is no evidence that the products are not safe. Nor, is there any evidence that any of the products cause cancer or other conditions. With that said, some patients do experience an allergic type reaction or develop skin irritation from the use of one product or the other. But, these are generally individualized to the patient. There is one article that has appeared in the medical literature about Always brand products. These ‘super’ absorbent products contain a petroleum-based product in the lining. A number of patients have experienced a contact vulvitis associated with the use of this particular brand. On the other hand, there are many patients who experience no symptoms. I am not aware of any reactions to the all-natural cotton products, although I must admit that I’m not sure how popular these brands are given their somewhat limited availability. If you aren’t having any problems, I would suggest that you continue to use the product with which you feel most comfortable.