Yes, There's a Right Way to Shop for Tampons (and Other Period Products)

Here at Byrdie HQ, we firmly believe that there are no taboos when it comes to female health—and that's why we're making it our mission to destigmatize any and all discussion surrounding birth control, our periods, and any other topic related to reproductive wellness. It's something we stand by all year long, but in observation of National Women's Health Week, we're highlighting some of our best guides and stories on the subject. Tune in all week long to get versed on your options when it comes to birth control, what it's really like to get an IUD, why you should care about which tampons you buy, and more.

Periods are not pleasant—that's valid (and obvious). But are we really still evading the subject in 2017? Isn't it kind of sad that we've been conditioned this much to not talk about something that happens to half of the world's population on a monthly basis for a large chunk of our lifetimes?

It's not about being open just for the sake of being open. Our health is at stake, and the proof is in this question: Do you even know what is in your tampons? Probably not, because the FDA does not require tampon companies to list ingredients on their boxes, meaning we've been putting god knows what inside of our bodies for years without a second thought. Even with the knowledge that tampons can cause death in rare cases (by way of toxic shock syndrome), we're expected to be okay with not knowing what chemicals are in a very invasive toiletry. How does this make sense?

"We give thought to what's in our food and beauty products, so why not our tampons, which we use in one of the most absorbent parts of our bodies?" ask Jordana Kier and Alex Friedman, who founded LOLA, a 100% cotton tampon subscription service, after pondering this very question. "The big brands do the bare minimum and rarely disclose the ratio of ingredients in their tampons, which is typically a blend of the artificial fibers rayon and polyester, among others." "Others" is a fittingly vague term: When the pair was developing their product and sent a variety of brand-name tampons to a lab for testing, they still couldn't identify some of the chemicals and compounds they contained. Between artificial fragrances and synthetic absorbents, there's just a lot of "stuff" in there—and frankly, that's outrageous.

But since that monthly gift just loves to keep on giving whether you feel like boycotting tampons or not, alternatives are in order. And fortunately, there are a few.

Next up, check out our illustrated guide to every kind of birth control.

This post was originally published on March 18, 2016.