Many substances used for intimate hygiene and perfumes can be harmful for one’s health. Both common sense and the results of a recent study suggest and confirm it.
Attention to hygiene is certainly an appreciable trait in a person, and we happily live in an age that encourages these attitudes. Apart from being an act of self-care, which is always necessary in the first place, it is a gesture of civility towards others. However, be careful: hygiene, when too radical, risks being harmful.
Apart from the excessive use of detergents, which deprives the skin of its natural chemical and microbial barrier mechanisms, also the use of perfumed substances, known in chemistry as “volatile organic compounds”, can cause problems. In the case of intimate hygiene, this concern is amplified by the particular anatomical structure of the genital mucous membranes. In this part of the body, in fact, the most resistant part of the epidermis is missing (the mucous membrane has no stratum corneum), it is lacking annexes such as sebaceous glands and hairs, and the tissue is richly vascularized. Consequently, the fragrances we apply are more easily absorbed through the circulatory stream and spread throughout the body, with possible negative consequences for our health.
In the case of vaginal lavages in particular, this exposure is at its highest. And it’s paradoxical, because in normal conditions, this hygienic practice is practically superfluous: the vaginal mucosa is in fact self-cleansing. A very recent study published in the Journal of Women’s Health has shown that feminine intimate hygiene products such as lavages, talc, sprays, wipes and even tampons and pads are the cause of an increased concentration in the blood of substances such as dinitrochlorobenzene and ethylbenzene.
In industrialized countries, exposure to volatile organic compounds occurs both indoors and outdoors, although internal levels are often higher, due to the presence and use of many common products that contain them. These compounds are in fact contained in products such as home fragrances, personal care products such as nail polish, insect repellents, deodorants, paints, fuel and car products.
Aromatic compounds can be absorbed via direct skin contact, inhalation or ingestion. Some of these substances have been associated with acute toxic effects, such as neurological disorders and respiratory symptoms; long-term exposure can also cause tumors and have an adverse effect on the reproductive system. On the basis of animal carcinogenicity tests, it is reasonably believed that dinitrochlorobenzene is carcinogenic and can also induce menstrual disorders, spontaneous abortions and congenital malformations. Chronic exposure to ethylbenzene, on the other hand, can adversely affect the central nervous system.
Given the concern for the toxicity of aromatic organic compounds it is important to identify the sources of exposure. The use of female intimate hygiene products should be increasingly monitored by public health control bodies and carefully addressed by consumers.
Article of Dr Adele Sparavigna for https://4me.styl