Susceptible to a World Outside Ourselves: Mucous Membranes


In a report set out by the United Nations and the World Health Organization, it says, "An average human skin surface contains 40–70 hair follicles and 200–250 sweat ducts per square centimetre." In all honesty, a set of numbers like that is a germaphobes worst nightmare- and you know who we mean: the person who uses paper towels or the edge of their tennis shoe to open bathroom doors, your co-worker who currently holds the monopoly on bottles of hand sanitizers owned, or even the person who's organic about everything else that they use except for the perpetual container of chlorox wipes that they use to wipe down (everything) at the end of the day.

There are throngs of people who are hyper-aware of which person coughs or sneezes, whose minds calculate bacterial defense like it's their job. Whatever your opinion on these slightly neurotic folk, you know you must pay them a degree of respect, because despite their scary, type A behavior, they're all about staying healthy and avoiding risks to their immune system. They inspire a kind of awe that is especially pertinent in 2015 when American society is developing a heightened awareness of what's going on with our consumer products. Stories about the harmful effects of phthalates and if they're truly unavoidable and flame retardants and nail polish that makes you gain weight are all over the media. And if you're a true Millenial or Generation Y member, this stuff has gone beyond scaremongering and has evolved into a new layer of your mindfulness. We are the generation of information and the directors of swagger. And in light of that sentiment, here's another thing to add to your health bank of knowledge...

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Getting back to skin, and the central roles our bodies play in soaking up what's around them, we often forget, that in addition to our skin, there is another huge player in what can make us sick: the often understated, ever-important set of MUCOUS MEMBRANES we're blessed with.

Mucous membranes are "different than normal skin because they allow pathogens (like fluid-borne STD/STIs) access to the blood stream" (UWire). This means a lot of how we get sick (and the reason why Hypochondriac-Heather dreads getting out of her plastic-wrapped bed in the morning) happens because of what the mucous in and around our exposed membranes fails to repel from entering our body. For women, there are mucous membranes all along the vaginal canal and around the clitoris. That stupid trend in the early 2010's of young women getting intoxicated through tampons- that, was brought to you in part by mucous membranes. Sexually Transmitted Infections’ preferred method of entry to your body- mucous membranes. And lastly, what soaks up all of the organic and nonorganic bi-products that reside on feminine hygiene products? You got it- the mucous membranes along your vulva and vagina.

Short of literally growing tougher skin, a clear thing we'd do well to advocate for are less opaque answers about what goes into the processed products that we use. It would be helpful if companies like Procter & Gamble would keep us abreast of the changes in their pad and tampon compositions. Take for example, infinicel. Have you heard of it? Probably not. But it might be (and here's what I'm getting at with this piece) what is at the center of many of P&G's pads to make them more absorbent. Do we know exactly what's in our pads and tampons at any given point (depending on where they're manufactured and who gave them a seal of approval for safety)? Doubtful. Is it something that's mandated for feminine hygiene product companies to publicize by the Food and Drug Administration or National Institute of Health? Not really.

Change is happening though! Just last week , Proctor and Gamble agreed to disclose their products’ ingredients, after a group organized by Women’s Voices for the Earth rallied outside of their shareholder meeting armed with signs anda petition signed by 35,000 people asking for more transparency. We call this a step in the right direction, but the fight for the #tampontruth is not yet over.

We are in a year where the traction behind regulating what goes into our feminine care products can turn from ripples into waves that will shift policy in the United States. With the Robin Danielson Act making its way into the spotlight , it is becoming possible to ask more of our regulatory bodies in the U.S. There are plenty of articles written to pique interest about what may or may not be present in the pads, tampons, cups, and sponges we use on a monthly basis, and too few studies done to explore what and a few here and there that demand active participation in the shift to demand more testing on consumer products that are used in more susceptible areas in/on our bodies.

Maxim Hygiene Products, makers of Maxim brand Organic and Natural Menstrual Care Products, has been one of the leading voices in safeguarding #healthymenstruation practices and products and is our choice for safer tampon and pad options until there ismore research to prove otherwise. Based on what we learned about mucous membranes in this post, wouldn’t you want to make sure that most absorbent and life-breeding part of your body is made of only the purest materials?

Sources

Boundless. “Mucous Membranes.” Boundless Anatomy and Physiology. Boundless, 21 Jul. 2015. Retrieved 20 Oct. 2015 from https://www.boundless.com/physiology/textbooks/boundless-anatomy-and-physiology-textbook/tissues-4/membranes-62/mucous-membranes-389-4674/

"STD/STIs:  The Basics." STD/STI Basics. UWire, n.d. Web. 20 Oct. 2015.

Images courtesy of Beatrice Steinberg and Pearson Education