Can Your Period Products Cause Vaginal Infections?

Periods are different for everyone, but one thing that must be consistent is menstrual hygiene practices. Maintaining hygiene is very important, especially throughout your menstrual cycle, and many kinds of intimate hygiene products can be used (internal and external).

Key takeaways:
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    Using internal period products (tampons, period cups) can cause toxic shock syndrome.
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    Infections are typically linked to poor feminine hygiene and improper use of period products.
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    Proper hygiene and following specific recommendations for period product use can help to prevent vaginal infections.

Therefore, regardless of the feminine hygiene products you use, you should be aware of how to use them correctly and the potential health risks associated with improper use.

Tampons

Tampons are the most widely used feminine hygiene product. They give women the freedom to go about their regular lives without worrying about their periods or experiencing the damp feeling that pads might occasionally bring on. However, any type of tampon is abrasive and can produce tiny tears in the vaginal walls, which increases the chance of bacteria entering the body. Moreover, due to its synthetic absorbent components, the bacteria Staphylococcus aureus grows and can result in toxic shock syndrome (TSS). It is a rare but extremely dangerous and sometimes deadly condition. TSS symptoms might include high temperature, vomiting, diarrhea, feeling lightheaded, dizziness, or a rash that resembles a sunburn. If you start to feel these symptoms around the time of using a tampon, you should remove it and contact a doctor immediately.

Safety tips for using tampons

  • Tampons should only be used during periods.
  • Wash your hands before and after inserting a tampon to avoid UTIs and vaginal infections.
  • Each tampon should be changed every 4 to 8 hours.
  • Use the lowest absorption tampon needed.

Disposable sanitary pads

Women who prefer the idea of natural menstrual flow or dislike using internal feminine products typically use sanitary pads. Sometimes cheap pads contain plastic materials that trap moisture and heat and create an environment that promotes the growth of yeast and bacteria. Furthermore, some sanitary pads contain dioxin (toxic material that is made in the process of bleaching cotton) and various fragrances which can irritate the skin, change the pH balance of the vulva and lead to unwanted yeast infections. Although there is conflicting information about the connection between the use of disposable pads and reproductive tract infections, particularly concerning longer wear times, most studies do not indicate any significant adverse health effects.

Sanitary pads safety tips

  • Avoid using fragranced sanitary pads.
  • To lower your risk of discomfort and irritation from moist pads, change them frequently.
  • To reduce friction, put on loose cotton underwear.

Panty liners

Are Designed to absorb regular vaginal discharge, unanticipated mild period flow, light spotting, and post-intercourse discharge. Cheap liners occasionally contain plastic components that retain heat and moisture and foster the development of yeast and bacteria. Furthermore, it contains various fragrances which can irritate the skin, change the pH balance of the vulva and lead to unwanted infections. Nevertheless, the scientific data demonstrates that using breathable panty liners is safe when done so according to the instructions and does not increase the risk of vulvovaginal infections or UTIs.

Panty liners using tips

  • Avoid using scented panty liners because they can cause irritation and itchiness. Use breathable cotton products without fragrances instead.
  • Change panty liners as often as possible to reduce the risk of infection.

Menstrual cup

A menstruation cup is a device that is put inside the vagina to collect menstrual fluid. One cup can be reused for up to 10 years, making it a more environmentally friendly choice. It is constructed of silicone and contains no latex, plastics, acrylics, or pesticides, as well as no colors or dyes. Since menstrual cups do not change the vaginal flora and pH and do not mechanically injure the vaginal and cervical tissues, they pose less of a risk to your health than other feminine products in terms of toxic shock syndrome, infections, and skin irritations. However, although TTS is less likely while using a menstrual cup, it is still possible.

Menstrual cup safety tips

  • Before removing or inserting your cup, thoroughly wash your hands with warm water and antibacterial soap.
  • Before insertion, wash your cup as directed by the manufacturer, typically with warm water and light, fragrance-free, and oil-free soap.
  • To facilitate easier insertion and prevent micro tears of the vaginal walls, dab the outside of the cup with a small amount of water-based lubricant.
  • Clean your period cup in boiling water for 15 to 20 minutes in between periods.

Reusable pads and menstrual underwear

Some women prefer to use reusable pads or menstrual underwear. To absorb the menstrual flow, they typically contain cotton and bamboo fleece. According to research, the use of reusable absorbent materials can be linked to more frequent yeast infections or UTIs. This is usually associated with irritation of the skin because of improper feminine hygiene and incorrect maintenance of reusable products. However, there is little evidence to support this association, therefore more research is required.

Menstrual sponges

Similar to tampons, menstrual sponges are inserted into the vagina to absorb menstrual blood. After removal, they can be cleaned and used again. Unfortunately, since there is no string or applicator and no way to tell whether you have completely removed it, it is dangerous to use. Moreover, there is no research on how to clean them in a sanitary manner. It is linked to various infections as well as TSS, therefore, using natural sea sponges is not approved by the FDA.

How to avoid vaginal infections while using feminine hygiene products?

  • Use period products only during menstruation.
  • Choose products with an absorbency adapted to your menstrual flow so that you can change it regularly.
  • Choose unscented products.
  • Follow each product’s specific recommendations for use, particularly concerning the length of time that products can be used.
  • Remember to wash your hands before and after changing your feminine hygiene products.

Not enough scientific evidence exists to support the claim that vaginal infections can be brought on by menstruation products. Infections are typically linked to poor feminine hygiene and improper use of period products. More research is required to determine how feminine items affect vaginal health.

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