Sanitary napkins have become an essential need for women. However, the use of disposable sanitary napkins has become a hot topic of discussion because it is suspected that they contain chemicals that are harmful to health. So, is this product still safe to use?
Every woman who has entered puberty will experience menstruation. It is at this time that sanitary napkins are needed to accommodate the blood that comes out of the vagina.
However, the selection of sanitary napkins should not be done haphazardly. This is because the use of improper sanitary napkins can cause irritation or even health problems in the female area.
What are the types of sanitary napkins?
Sanitary napkins are available in various brands, sizes, types, shapes, and functions. Based on its function, there are several types of sanitary napkins that are commonly used, namely:
- Panty liners, to absorb mucus or vaginal fluids everyday
- Regular, for use during menstruation
- Super or maxi, to be used when the menstrual volume is high
- Overnight, for use at night and usually longer in shape to prevent leakage during sleep
- Especially for postpartum mothers, to absorb postpartum blood after delivery and are usually thicker than regular sanitary napkins
Do sanitary napkins contain harmful ingredients?
In Indonesia, sanitary napkins had become a hot topic. The Indonesian Consumers Foundation (YLKI) stated that a number of brands of sanitary napkins contain hazardous substances with levels above the threshold.
The material is a chlorine compound which is feared to be harmful to the health of the body and female organs. However, the Ministry of Health states that the products in circulation have gone through a test process and are safe to use.
In accordance with Health Law No. 36 of 2009 sanitary napkins are categorized as low-risk medical devices. Low risk means that the impact on the health of the user is minimal.
In granting a distribution permit, the Ministry of Health also requires every sanitary napkin producer to meet the requirements of a good sanitary napkin standard, which is to have a minimum absorption capacity of 10 times the initial weight and does not have a strong fluorescence.
Fluorescence is a test carried out to check the chlorine level in sanitary napkins based on the Indonesian National Standard (SNI).
Pads are generally made of cellulose or synthetic fibers to absorb menstrual fluid that needs to go through the process bleach or bleaching.
Referring to the standards of the American Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which is also the standard of the Indonesian Ministry of Health, bleach done by the following method:
- Elemental chlorine-free (ECF) bleaching, namely a bleaching method that does not use the element chlorine gas, but uses chlorine dioxide which is declared free of dioxins.
- Totally chlorine-free (TCF) bleaching, which is a bleaching method that does not use chlorine compounds, but hydrogen peroxide.
All marketing-approved products must go through one of these two methods to ensure the absence of dioxin in the sanitary napkins. Dioxin itself is a substance that can dissolve in fat and survive in the body.
Use of chlorine gas in the process bleach In the manufacture of sanitary napkins, there is a risk of producing dioxin compounds which are carcinogenic or can increase the risk of cancer.
How to Minimize the Risk of Using sanitary napkins?
To minimize the risk of using disposable sanitary napkins, here are some things you can do:
- Make sure the sanitary napkins you choose have a distribution permit from the Ministry of Health listed on the packaging.
- Look at the composition of the pads on the packaging label.
- Change pads regularly every 3-4 hours, even if the amount of menstrual blood is not too much. The more menstrual bleeding, the more often you will have to change your pads. Changing pads regularly can prevent odor and bacterial growth.
- Choose unscented sanitary napkins to avoid the risk of irritation from chemical fragrances.
Are There Alternatives to Disposable Pads?
Although the use of disposable sanitary napkins is relatively safe, some people prefer other types of sanitary napkins as an alternative to avoid the risks that may arise. Here are some alternatives:
Cloth pads can be washed and reused. Although made of cloth, the shape of this type of sanitary napkin is made like a disposable sanitary napkin to keep it comfortable. Modern cloth sanitary napkins are equipped with wings and buttons that can be glued to the panties so they don't slide around easily.
Cloth pads can be an option for women who get irritated easily when using disposable pads. With a note, as long as the fabric used is pure cotton.
Menstrual cup or menstrual cup made of rubber or silicone that complies with medical standards. How to use it is quite easy, namely by inserting it into the vagina like a tampon.
The difference is, if the tampon serves to absorb, menstrual cup It works by storing menstrual blood. If it's full, take it out menstrual cup and wash thoroughly.
Menstrual cup can be used for 6-12 hours depending on the volume of menstrual blood and can be used for up to 10 years depending on the quality of the ingredients used. When the menstrual cycle is over, soak menstrual cup in hot water to sterilize it, then store it in a clean place.
Through the explanation above, it is certain that sanitary napkins that have received marketing authorization from the Ministry of Health are safe to use because they have gone through a series of test standards. However, you can also switch to cloth sanitary napkins or menstrual cup which is considered healthier, more efficient, and environmentally friendly.
If you experience complaints due to the use of sanitary napkins, such as rash, itching, and swelling, consult a doctor for proper treatment.