While they seem very simple, and are common enough to find in every grocery and drug store (as well as mega stores like Target and Walmart), these little devices are actually complicated pieces of engineered materials. They can feel like life-savers to those who find themselves needing one. But did you know that there are some pretty serious environmental and health risks that come along with using them? Neither did we until we really started to pay attention and got into the business of incontinence pad alternatives and created Revive – which provides reusable bladder support for those who experience light bladder leaks.
What are Light Bladder Leaks?
To understand why incontinence pads are composed and made of the materials they are, it’s important to understand what diagnoses the pads would be used for. Obviously, incontinence pads are used for the absorption of urine. Leaks may occur for a couple of reasons such as Overactive Bladder or an infection. However, if you’re experiencing involuntary leaks when you cough, sneeze, bend over, laugh, or pick something up you may be experiencing a disorder called Stress Urinary Incontinence (SUI). Stress incontinence occurs when the muscles and surrounding tissue are damaged or weakened from trauma or repeated impact over time. For example, women often experience leaks after giving birth, even years after the delivery. The leak size may vary from a couple of small drips to a larger stream that is able to soak through clothes. Although embarrassing, SUI is actually more common than you may think with around 10-20% of adult women being affected. While light bladder leaks are more common in older women, SUI can develop at any age for a number of reasons.
Materials Engineering And Pads
Very simply broken down, incontinence pads are made up of textiles and polymers. Textiles are cloth, or woven fabric. Polymers are synthetic materials like plastics and resins. They are combined together by materials engineered to create household, industrial, and personal hygiene products. In the case of incontinence pads, the end result is a pad that sticks to a woman’s underwear much like a sanitary pad does, absorbing urine while simultaneously pulling moisture away from the body to help the user stay dry and comfortable. This is accomplished by using layers of fabric, or absorbent paper, and plastic.
There are people working in research and development to create better, more absorbable, longer wearing, and lighter pads. It is important to note, that while these are very similar in purpose and construct as sanitary pads, they are actually also quite different from them.
National Incontinence notes that “the main difference between the two pads is the type of fluid they’re meant to absorb. Menstrual pads are designed to absorb menstrual flow, which comes out much slower than urine. Bladder control pads, on the other hand, are designed to absorb the rapid dispersion of urine. They’re made with polymer fabrics that pull moisture away from the skin so that you stay dry, comfortable, and odor-free. Bladder control pads neutralize acidic urine, which can cause skin rashes if left unchanged. Some incontinence pads feature a special gel that prevents skin infections caused by long exposure to urine.” (Source).
These gels, textiles, and polymers are all created in research and development laboratories with the user in mind; however, sometimes the long-term effect of certain materials has undesired impacts or there are undesirable side effects.
The Dangerous Side of Incontinence Products
The Huffington Post, and others, have reported on this, but it rarely gets the attention it deserves – and it is one of our motivators for making our urinary incontinence product. It turns out that a lot of the materials that go into pads, whether they are sanitary or incontinence, are actually toxic and some are carcinogenic.
There is more attention paid to the dangers of tampons, because they are used internally. They have been referred to as ‘ticking time bombs’ by Dr. Joe Mercola, who contributed a piece in the Huffington Post. He points out that our skin is really sensitive and chemicals absorb easily through it, “plasticizing chemicals like BPA and BPS disrupt embryonic development. They’re linked to heart disease and cancer. Phthalates, which give paper tampon applicators a smooth finish, are known to disregulated gene expression, and DEHP may lead to multiple organ damage. Synthetics and plastic restrict air flow and trap heat and dampness, potentially promoting yeast and bacteria growth in your vaginal area. Besides crude oil plastics, conventional sanitary pads can also contain other potentially hazardous ingredients, such as odor neutralizers and fragrances.” (Source).
One of the scariest risks of using these products is the possibility of cancer and other potentially terminal diseases. The idea that a woman will get cancer from a product that is made specifically to accommodate her most delicate region and most sensitive conditions is really tough for some people to wrap their head around. It is not a certainty by any means, but is a risk, as reported by Anigan.com: “Your pads are made of plastic materials. Some chemicals that are made of plastic like BPA and BPS can complicate embryonic development. The plasticizers can actually lead to organ damage. The fiber in the absorbent pads that you use can cause cervical cancer. Sanitary pads are not purely made of cotton but they’re made of cellulose gel. The dioxin present in the menstrual pads can cause ovarian cancer. Napkins are made to absorb wetness. That is why aside from cotton, they also contain rayon, a synthetic fiber, which is also dangerous because they also contain dioxin. Basically, when rayon is bleached, it releases dioxin.” In the event of sanitary products, they are worn for a few days each month. In the event of incontinence products, women face wearing them every day, all day, year round.
These are some scary words, and the FDA assures us that there is very low risk of these issues occurring – as the human body is resilient and adaptable – but for many people some risk, especially ones that carry these potential consequences, is too much.
Why Revive Is Better Than Pads
Instead of layers of materials, each made up of a different set of chemical components, Revive™ reusable bladder support is designed to actually support the urethra and reduce leakage. It is worn internally and supports the urethra which reduces leaks for up to 12 hours a day. Made of a soft, flexible, silicone material and designed to fit naturally in the female anatomy for all-day comfort and safety. Easy to insert, remove, and clean to reuse for up to 31 times. Revive is available without a prescription at retailers nationwide!