Firstly, we question the need for laboratory testing as it typically focuses on the sterility of menstrual products when the real issue is safety. In reality, menstrual products are not intended to be sterile (this is also the standpoint of the global assocation EDANA in their Guidelines for Testing Feminine Hygiene Products, Dec 2018), nor are vaginas which rely on many bacteria to promote vaginal health. As well as being impractical, an emphasis on ideas around sterile menstrual products plays into unhelpful attitudes claiming that menstrual blood is “dirty” or “unhygienic”.
Any critical examination of menstrual products should be based on safety, where safety relates to materials and appropriate use such as thorough washing and drying. Eco Femme cloth pads are made from GOTS (Global Organic Trade Standard) certified cotton flannel. In our personal experience, and from the experiences of many other women, cloth pads are safe to use when cared for properly. We do not believe in discounting these experiences. In this context, emphasis on clinical or laboratory testing simply for the sake of testing, when there have been no issues, risks perpetuating a menstrual culture that alienates women from their lived experiences and common sense.
One last note on laboratory testing regarding cloth pads, as this is a not uncommon question. It is curious that the onus lies with cloth pad producers, when cloth is widely accepted as a known and safe material, especially so with organic certification. Compare this with disposable pads, where manufacturers are not legally required to disclose the ingredients. In 2014, US organisation Women’s Voices for the Earth commissioned laboratory