Feminine Hygiene and Personal Grooming Products Criticized for Causing Cancer: A Deep Dive

One fact of certainty in modern society is that women’s health has become a prime target. In recent years, female health and safety have taken a major hit.

This has a lot to do with the adulterated products circulating in the market. Did you know that one in six women worldwide suffers from infertility issues? That includes nearly 10% of American women between the ages of 15 and 44.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), fertility declines with age since the female egg quality goes down. That is how natural biology works. However, there are other factors at play here, namely, the hazardous feminine hygiene care products.

Not only that but lately, there’s been an outrage that such products are contributing to rising cases of cancer of the female reproductive system. In this article, we will explore the criticism surrounding feminine hygiene and personal grooming products.


The Toxicity Debate of Feminine Care Products

The most commonly used feminine hygiene products include sanitary pads, tampons, and panty liners. By 2033, the feminine hygiene product market is expected to have a value of $77,399 million. It is growing at a CAGR of 9%.

Of all products, sanitary pads occupy the highest market share as women of all ages use them. This is where the problem comes in. Studies have found that feminine hygiene products are laden with toxic chemicals.

These include volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and phthalates. As a result, women using them are at risk of developing endocrine disruption, diabetes, birth defects, issues with fertility and the heart, as well as the dreaded cancer.

Some even have traces of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances or PFAS that can lead to high blood pressure, female cancer, high cholesterol, and reduced immune function. These chemicals are a complex group of over 12,000, even found in tampon packages and panty liners.

Researchers from the University of Notre Dame studied nearly 120 samples of all kinds of feminine hygiene products, including tampons, menstrual cups, sanitary pads, etc. The issue of chemical toxicity was found in some of these products (but not all). However, in those with chemical toxicity, the consequences were far-reaching and life-threatening.


Carcinogenic Hair Straighteners/Relaxers

Besides hygiene products, even female personal grooming products like hair relaxers or straighteners have garnered much criticism. These hair smoothening tools have been used for decades to straighten out strands, especially by women from the Black community.

These women are more likely to use hair straighteners for their tightly coiled or curled hair. Lately, it was found that women with a higher incidence of hair straightener usage were at higher risk of developing uterine cancer.

The reason was due to a highly carcinogenic chemical commonly found in hair relaxers – formaldehyde. If we notice closely, the cancer is associated with female hormonal issues (something the chemical directly disrupts).

As a result of life-threatening injuries, many women have filed a hair straightener lawsuit against manufacturers like L’Oreal and Revlon. It is alleged that the companies were aware of the risks involved but failed to disclose them properly due to a thirst for profits.

According to TorHoerman Law, there are currently over 8,000 lawsuits awaiting settlements in multidistrict litigation (MDL). The pretrial proceedings will soon be underway as verdicts are given and individual payouts are decided.


Alternatives/Steps That Protect Women

The growing threat to female health and safety in the form of the aforementioned products calls for urgent remedial action. One would expect that the said products would be recalled but no such thing has taken place yet.

This could have to do with the fact that the market for such products is huge, and archaic means of feminine hygiene are no longer practical. However, a separate class of products (in the form of sustainable menstruation) is available. These include completely non-toxic sanitary pads, cloth or reusable pads, and menstrual sponges.

As for the hair straightener, there seems to be some action taken in the right direction. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has proposed a total ban on formaldehyde in hair relaxing tools. This was a much-anticipated move because it’s been over a decade since research has exposed all the risks associated with formaldehyde.

In essence, the FDA’s move to ban formaldehyde is being considered as one taken ‘too little, too late.’ This makes sense because thousands of women had to endure the unthinkable before such a step.


Finally, uterine cancer is the sixth leading cause of cancer among women. This condition’s incidence is rising by 2% each year among women aged 49 years and younger. This is alarming, to say the least.

It is high time that relevant safety measures are in place when it comes to feminine products’ market regulation. Without drastic steps, we will continue to see more and more women suffer.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *