Period underwear: safe or harmful? |

Period underwear is said to contain substances that are harmful to health

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Period underwear is effective, comfortable and sustainable – that’s what we assumed up until now. A new study is now critical. Is the product actually harmful to health?

As natural as the period is, it is still not discussed publicly. Isn’t the suffering that many women already experience once a month during this phase not enough? No, we also have to take care of the procurement of period products ourselves. Pay for this yourself. We worry about whether there might be some blood visible from the outside that others might find strange. Whether we go to the swimming pool with friends despite a heavy period. Whether we should have sex or whether the other person finds it repulsive.

After all, these days there is a selection of products that help women deal with these issues every month. Not like in the old days, when Greek women could only help themselves with strips of cloth wrapped around wood. So the possibilities: quite good, the implementation: well.

Not long ago, the hype surrounding period underwear gave hope. It is reusable after washing, which means it is more sustainable than single-use products such as tampons or sanitary pads, and it is also cheaper overall because it doesn’t have to be bought again all the time. In addition, it should be comfortable, absorb the blood reliably and still look nice and be almost indistinguishable from normal laundry. Since then, the underpants have enjoyed enormous popularity on social media.

However, the British consumer organization “Which?” is now calling for caution. on that in one Research has identified a potential health risk from wearing period underwear.

Period underwear: dangerous for your health?

The focus is on the substance silver chloride, a compound made up of silver ions and chloride ions. This biocidal substance can, among other things, kill bacteria, explains biotechnologist at the independent testing and research institute OFI, Elisabeth Mertl. The substance is known to be used in wound dressings to reduce the risk of infection, or in sportswear to combat the bacteria that cause odor. The problem with using it in period underwear: “Silver chloride does not differentiate between what it kills. It not only affects the bad bacteria, but also the good bacteria in the vaginal flora or the mucous membrane cells,” says the biotechnologist. If essential bacteria are also killed, they can no longer help contain infections.

A second substance of concern is zinc pyrithione, which is said to protect against fungal infections, among other things. However, the substance is already banned in shampoos today because it could be carcinogenic.

With both silver chloride and zinc pyrithione, the decisive factor is how much of the substance is released from the products and absorbed by the body. Further research should shed light on this. There is also criticism that such ingredients do not have to be shown on the packaging. How can that be?

Sustainability is also in question

Whether the questionable substances they contain pose a health risk is one thing; the other related issue is the sustainability of the products. Because this too is now being questioned by researchers. A survey by the Swedish Chemicals Agency (KEMI) showed that after three washes at 40 degrees, around half of the biocide silver chloride was released into the water – a danger to the animals living there.

And what now?

The investigation of “Which?” should be an incentive for researchers to take a closer look at period underwear – in fact, more comprehensive study results are expected to be announced next year. It is an appeal for manufacturers to become more transparent. And a reminder for consumers to pay close attention to this transparency. Some manufacturers are already voluntarily stating whether they use silver chloride or not, for example.

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