Supporting Your Right To Know What's In Your Tampons And Pads

Perhaps you, like many other consumers, question the safety of these types of items.
04/25/2017 08:34 am ET Updated Apr 25, 2017

Do you ever find yourself glancing at the list of ingredients on the personal care products that you use each day? Maybe, like me, you wonder about the chemicals used in your makeup or hair care products, and their possible side effects.

Perhaps you, like many other consumers, question the safety of these types of items. If you do, you’re right to be skeptical. Several cosmetic products on the market have been recalled in recent months, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) continues to operate a database for individuals to report adverse effects of cosmetics, usually stemming from an ingredient in the product.

As consumers, we have a right to know what ingredients we are putting on or in our bodies. This is especially true for products that come into contact with our most sensitive areas such as vaginal tissue, which is much more absorptive than skin on other parts of the body. That is why I was stunned to learn that many types of menstrual hygiene products, such as tampons, pads, and menstrual cups, are not required to list their ingredients on the packaging.

How can this be? These products are either inserted into, or placed closely next to, sensitive female anatomy, and yet there is no requirement that their ingredients be made public! This lack of transparency prevents women from avoiding certain ingredients or chemicals and restricts informed consumer choice.

I discovered that certain menstrual hygiene products are not classified by the FDA as cosmetics, which are required to have their ingredients listed on their labels.

Once I dug a little bit deeper, I discovered that certain menstrual hygiene products are not classified by the FDA as cosmetics, which are required to have their ingredients listed on their labels. Instead, these items are considered medical devices, which do not have that requirement. Tampons, pads, and menstrual cups are a completely different category of product than most medical devices, which include items such as ventilators and pacemakers, and they should be treated as such. It’s simple: menstrual hygiene products should have their ingredients labeled. You have a right to know what’s in your tampon, just like you have the right to know what’s in your face cream, or contact solution, or deodorant. And I’m leading this charge in Congress.

This month, I’ll be introducing the Menstrual Hygiene Product Right to Know Act, which would require menstrual hygiene products that are classified as medical devices to have their ingredients listed on the packaging. Though certain companies that make menstrual hygiene products have, in good faith, disclosed the ingredients in their products, there is no requirement that they do so, nor is the information they provide verified. My commonsense legislation will expand sorely needed transparency for menstrual hygiene products and allow consumers to make more informed decisions about their health and wellness.

I’m proud to be working with Women’s Voices for the Earth on this important initiative. On May 23rd, they will be hosting an event at the Capitol demanding transparency for menstrual hygiene products. I’ll be speaking about my bill, and I’d love to see you there. One voice may have the power to change a mind, but many voices have the power to change a policy. First, however, we have to make our voices heard.

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