Ewha Med J.  2019 Jul;42(3):25-38. 10.12771/emj.2019.42.3.25.

Systematic Review on Sanitary Pads and Female Health

Affiliations
  • 1Ewha Womans University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea.
  • 2Department of Pediatrics, Ewha Womans University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea.
  • 3Department of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Hallym University Sacred Heart Hospital, Anyang, Korea.
  • 4Department of International Studies, Graduate School of International Studies, Ewha Womans University, Seoul, Korea.
  • 5Department of Occupational and Environment Medicine, Ewha Womans University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea. eunheeha@ewha.ac.kr

Abstract

The majority of South Korean females use sanitary pads, which contain various organic solvents which could be excreted before and during their menstruation. However, they are not provided with findings from studies about the health effects of sanitary pads. Therefore, this study aims to establish a list of potential health hazards of sanitary pads and address the need for further extensive research by pointing out the limitations of the previous literature. A systematic review was adopted to conduct quantitative and qualitative reviews based on the PRISMA (preferred reporting items for systematic reviews and meta-analyses). Studies from electronic databases such as PubMed, RISS, and Google Scholar were retrieved for the final analyses. In accordance with our findings, we proposed a set of limitations of the previous studies. A systematic review revealed that there were effects of sanitary pads on vaginal or vulvar skin, endometriosis, and vaginal microflora. The review also revealed that organic solvents, which sanitary pads are composed of, bring potential harmful effects on pregnancy, autoimmune disease, cardiovascular disease, and neurological development. Social environments such as hygiene use or puberty education also turned out to affect female health. It was inferred that a lack of non-occupational and domestic studies reflecting the distinguishing features of sanitary pads with a reliable sample size remains as an important limitation. This study suggests that organic solvents in sanitary pads may increase some health risks bringing reproductive, autoimmune, cardiovascular, and neurological effects. Due to a lack of studies, a more extensive study can contribute to the public health of South Korean females.

Keyword

Menstrual hygiene products; Menstruation; Organic solvents; Female; Social environment

MeSH Terms

Adolescent
Autoimmune Diseases
Cardiovascular Diseases
Education
Endometriosis
Female*
Humans
Hygiene
Menstrual Hygiene Products
Menstruation
Pregnancy
Puberty
Public Health
Sample Size
Skin
Social Environment
Solvents
Solvents
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