Searching for information is a hassle but you don't want to buy just any product
We covered the pros and cons of five menstrual products (disposable menstrual pads, cotton menstrual pads, tampons, menstrual cups, and absorbent menstrual underwear) in My Exploration of Menstrual Products.
Now, let’s take a look at the most well-known products in each of these categories. While these specific brands may not be available in other countries, the method for analyzing the products should be the same regardless.
For all of us who want to make smart purchasing decisions, but at the same time just can’t be bothered with the research. Check out this handy report to compare your options!
Today’s Item for Review ✨ ✨Disposable Menstrual Pads
Characteristics of Disposable Menstrual Pads : The more you learn, the more difficult it is
There are many disposable menstrual pads in the world. It’s difficult to know the differences at a glance. It gets even more difficult when looking at the materials closely. In some countries menstrual pads are considered quasi-pharmaceutical, and are required to list the full ingredients, but it has not been clarified whether some of these could be harmful.
But we can't just use any product since there are too many testimonies that certain products can actually negatively affect your body. The world of disposable menstrual pads does not have defined standards, but here are some standards picked out to help you in choosing your products.
|⚡ Disposable Menstrual Pad Comparison Points ⚡|
|1. Product Component Information|
|2. Size and Price|
|3. Risk Assessment Results|
01. Product Component Information
All components and raw ingredients of disposable menstrual pads in South Korea require labelling pursuant to the partial amendment of the Pharmaceutical Affairs Act in October 2018.
There are three major components of a menstrual pad.
- A top sheet that comes in direct contact with skin
- Absorbent material that absorbs the menstrual blood
- A waterproof layer that prevents the absorbed menstrual blood from leaking
There is also adhesive to attach the menstrual pad to the underwear as well as perfume or moisturizing ingredient depending on the product. Here are the common ingredients you may see for each component.
❤️ Top sheet
This is the outer layer of the menstrual pad that comes in contact with the skin. It absorbs the menstrual blood that flows to the absorbent material. The top sheet of the disposable menstrual pads is mostly made of “non-woven fabric.” A description such as “cotton non-woven fabric” or “pure cotton non-woven fabric” is used when the non-woven fabric is made from cotton. If only “non-woven fabric” or “felt (composite fiber)” is included in the ingredients list, it is made of synthetic fiber composed of polyethylene and polypropylene. Synthetic fibers are safe fibers commonly used in clothing but are not “pure cotton.”
❤️ Absorbent material
This component absorbs the menstrual blood that passes through the top sheet. The absorbent material is mostly fibrous absorbent materials (cotton pulp, absorbent paper, felt, etc.) or SAP (superabsorbent polymer).
*Fibrous materials The cotton pulp that is commonly used in fibers is made of chemical pulp (synthetic fiber or fiber extracted from trees), and the absorbent paper is made from the same pulp. It’s difficult to know whether the pulp is wood pulp or synthetic fiber pulp unless noted by the manufacturer. Unlike the top sheet, felt for the absorbent material is made by combining wood pulp and synthetic fibers or SAP. Some also use cotton fiber, described as a pure cotton absorbent sheet.
* SAP SAP is a polymer grain and a type of microplastic with excellent absorption. SAP is considered to be safe and is used for diapers, but some people experience menstrual pain and vaginal dryness when using menstrual pads with SAP absorbent material. Recently, SAP’s became problematic as they were detected on meat, due to the pad containing SAP used to absorb blood. SAP is often noted in an ingredients list as a sodium acrylate polymer (cross-linked sodium polyacrylate).
❤️ Adhesives and other ingredients
Hot-melt adhesives, styrene-isoprene-styrene (SIS), and hydrocarbon resins are common adhesive ingredients. Some products also add a moisturizer or perfume. Ingredients of the moisturizer are labelled the same way as cosmetics. However, perfumes could be labelled as a “fragrance,” and it is up to the company to decide whether to label any included allergens in the ingredients list. It’s best to avoid products with “fragrance” in the ingredients list if you have sensitive skin or you are concerned about allergic reactions.
02. Size and Price
The size of the menstrual pad is directly related to the amount of menstrual flow it can hold. Products with different sizes are the best since you need different sizes depending on the menstrual flow, activity level, and frequency of changing pads. For example, if the product does not have an overnight size, it would be difficult to use on nights with a heavy menstrual flow.
Price is also an important factor. Since disposable menstrual pads need to be purchased continuously, the differences in prices by products can become significant over time. If there are a few products you prefer due to ingredients or size, it could be helpful to calculate the price for each pad by dividing it by the quantity.
03. Risk Assessment Results
The “shock of carcinogens in menstrual pads” in 2017 was a reaction from the Korean Women’s Environmental Network, which detected volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in all 10 disposable menstrual pads from major Korean brands in their investigation. The MFDS investigated 666 menstrual pads and pantyliners sold in Korea and from overseas and examined whether 10 VOCs that are highly harmful to the body, such as carcinogens and reproductive toxic substances, were detected. The investigation detected one or more substances out of 10 VOCs, but “the detected amount is at a low level that does not have a hazardous effect on the body.” It would be important to know whether harmful substances were detected when choosing a product since it is unknown if the MFDS result of not having a hazardous effect on the body is also the case when substances are continuously absorbed through the vaginal membrane.
However, this investigation was done in 2017, so there are products that were not included. Even if VOCs were detected in the product, the company may be managing harmful substances by renewals and thorough management of the product.
Checking if the manufacturer tests for harmful substances through a research institute could also help you in determining whether the product is reliable. The Dermatest guarantee seal that indicates low skin irritation and OCS certification for using organic materials can also be indicators of how careful the manufacturer is in making the product.
Comparative Analysis of Products from Major Brands
This is a table that compares products from major menstrual pad brands according to the standards above.
The top 10 brands based on the brand reputation ranking in December 2021 were compared, and the main product with the highest sales was chosen if a brand has multiple product lines, or a product with various sizes was chosen if uncertain about the main product of the brand.
Only the main ingredients were summarized to allow for a simple comparison. Thus, the table only includes whether the top sheet is synthetic fiber or cotton fiber, whether the absorbent material is pulp, synthetic fiber, or SAP, and if the pad is scented. Sizes are the available sizes for the product, and different sizes (e.g., overnight, pantyliner, etc.) may be provided in different products within the same brand. The unit price was calculated by dividing the price of one package on the official website by the number of menstrual pads.
The table also includes whether any harmful substances were detected in the product based on the investigation for carcinogens in menstrual pads by the Korean Women’s Environmental Network as well as the investigation by the MFDS for 10 highly hazardous VOCs. Any detected substances are specified. Any certification or whether the brand requested an external institution to test for harmful substances is also included.
Since there are various brands and products of disposable menstrual pads, this comparison table should be used as a reference to display what standards could be set in choosing menstrual pads instead of using it to pick a product.