A recent study published in Journal of Women’s Health evaluated blood concentrations in 2,432 women to measure volatile organic compounds (VOCs) found in feminine hygiene products (FHP).
In the study, vaginal douching and feminine powder hygiene practices were specifically examined. VOC blood concentrations of 1,4-dichlorobenzene were as high as 81% in douching users; and for ethylbenzene (found in feminine powder) as high as 36% in frequent users of both practices compared to never and occasional users.
VOCs are associated with neurological disorders and reproductive health issues, and long-term exposure may lead to cancer. VOCs are found in many consumer products such as fragrance, air fresheners, nail polish, and deodorants. The article mentions Women’s Voices for Earth (WVE), an organization whose 2014 toxicity report found styrene, chloromethane, and chloroform in feminine care products.
The study hypothesizes that FHP and practices may lead to increased VOC exposure, and concludes that further research is needed to measure VOC concentrations in vaginal care products.
Exposure to Volatile Organic Compounds and Use of Feminine Hygiene Products Among Reproductive-Aged Women in the United States
Ning Ding, Stuart Batterman, and Sung Kyun Park
Journal of Women's Health, January 2020