NEW YORK — Embarrassment over having their period is leading most women to think less about what’s best for the environment and more about how they can avoid having others catch an unwanted glimpse of their tampon, a new study finds.
Researchers commissioned by THINX, a company geared towards eliminating shame and taboo associated with menstrual cycles through awareness and period-centric products, polled 2,000 women to find out how that time of the month affects their feelings and activities. Women typically go through 11,000 tampons in their lives, which take centuries to break down in the environment, researchers say.
The study showed that while 97 percent of participants felt concerned about the environment, just 15 percent actually dispose of used tampons properly. The other 85 percent admit they choose to ignore the harmful impact of a tampon on Mother Nature and instead flush the product down the toilet — so others don’t see it in the trash. Thirty-eight percent of respondents say they will usually dispose of their tampon in the toilet if they’re at a partner’s house or at work.
For those who do use the trash can, nearly three-quarters go out of their way to hide the tampon in the garbage, rearranging items in the wastebasket to keep them out of plain view. Interestingly, however, only a quarter of respondents said embarrassment over their period is what led them to improperly tossing out the tampon.
“It’s time for women to step up and do what we can to help preserve our environment for ourselves and future generations, especially in situations we have direct control over,” says THINX VP of Brand, Siobhan Lonergan, in a press release.
The researchers say that misinformation along with stigmas surrounding menstrual cycles are the main reasons behind a woman’s shame. That shame even leads women to avoid the activities they love. Sixty-two percent of respondents said they avoid certain activities when menstruating. Swimming was the most common activity avoided — 76 percent will avoid a pool, while 40 percent won’t work out at all.
On the bright side, 97 percent of respondents would be interested in trying more environmentally-friendly tampons or pads. Three in 10 would even consider “free bleeding,” a practice that involves exactly what it sounds like — using no products to stop blood flow.
“We can be more thoughtful about how we take care of our bodies and the environment. There are many sustainable period solutions available, and your choice can make a positive impact,” says Lonergan.