qu'est ce qu'il y a dans les serviettes périodiques hygieniques composition

The composition of menstrual pads

Disposable menstrual pads from the market are widely used and they meet a real need for people who do not want to (or cannot) use internal protection. Here's how they are manufactured.

History of Menstrual Pads

The first "hygienic" pad was launched in 1897 by Johnson & Johnson in the USA. It was called the "Sanitary Napkins for Ladies," but it wasn't very successful. Women were hesitant to ask for the product by its name in stores, making marketing and sales difficult. In the 1920s, the company even distributed coupons to request the product without having to say a word!

premieres serviettes périodiquespublicité premieres serviettes périodiques

We couldn't find information about the composition of these early pads, but it's very likely they were made from cotton.

Johnson & Johnson remains active in the menstrual protection field today, as the Group owns the brands Vania and Nett.

Pads were then produced industrially after World War I. The International Cello-Cotton Company invented Cellu-cotton (= rayon, the ecological impact of its production is explained here), which was highly absorbent and initially created for medical applications (bandages, etc.).

The Cello-Cotton was so absorbent that nurses used it to absorb their menstrual flow. So the company (now Kimberly-Clark) commercialized a pad made of Cello-Cotton under the brand Kotex, which still exists.

The International Cello-Cotton Company is particularly known for commissioning a promotional and educational film from Walt Disney in 1946, titled "The Story of Menstruations," which was widely shown in American schools until the 1960s. It is also the first film where the word "vagina" is pronounced!


After this, there's a bit of a blur in the sources. But it seems there was a shift from rayon to petrochemical derivatives when Procter & Gamble Group launched Always pads in 1983 (which also owns Pampers diapers and Tampax tampons). In the 1990s, the Vania brand attempted to work with a natural absorbent, sphagnum (which absorbs 30 times its weight in liquid). But this range didn't achieve the expected success.

What Are Disposable Menstrual Pads Composed of Today?

Traditional disposable menstrual pads (we're not talking about organic products here) are composed of an absorbent core enclosed between 2 plastic films:

  • The top sheet, in contact with the skin and external mucosa, is made of plastic (on the Always website, they specify that it is made of polyolefin). Sometimes, this sheet also includes skincare, the composition of which we couldn't find.
  • The bottom of the pad is also made of petrochemical derivatives.
  • The super-absorbent gel is made of sodium polyacrylate crystals: a chemical absorbing polymer that turns into a gel when exposed to moisture and can absorb 800 times its weight in water. It is normally not in direct contact with the skin, which is fortunate because it is irritating. These gels are also found in baby diapers or moisture absorbers. 
  • In pads, since blood is in contact with the air, it emits an odor. To counteract this odor, brands sometimes use "odor neutralization technologies" (unknown composition) and/or synthetic fragrances. However, even though these additives are obviously regulated, and even though all the products they use are approved for contact with mucous membranes, they can still cause allergies.

Now you know a little more about the composition of sanitary pads. Feel free to leave us a comment if you have any questions or observations.


Source images : National Museum of American history

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