Premature Menopause – Could Bathroom Products be a Factor?

Premature Menopause – Could Bathroom Products be a Factor?

Cat T.
Who doesn’t love a deluxe bath bomb? Slipping into a hot bath and watching a glittery bright ball dissolve into a swirl of aromatic steam and colourful effervescence is my idea of heaven. Many bath bombs contain essential oils to sooth sore muscles while moisturising your skin. Their wafting fragrances such as lavender, rose, ylang ylang or vanilla can be luxurious and intoxicating indeed.

However, it may be a shock to discover that chemicals in certain brands of scented bombs and bath salts can actually speed up the transition to menopause! This (cheekily non-scientific) parallel between a bath bomb recipe and the human body may explain.

So visualise this — you’re about to slip in your fizzy, scented bomb into your hot water bath. Your bath bomb contains baking powder and citric acid as the base ingredients and when wet, these respective alkaline and acidic substances react against each other. Your bath bomb needs the right ingredient ratio for the maximum fizzing effect. If the balance is wrong, it won’t produce the fizzy chemical reaction you’re expecting.

Likewise, your body relies on a delicate balance of hormones to regulate your inner-workings and when they’re out of balance, you notice it right away! The hormones, oestrogen and progesterone, both work in opposition and harmony with each other to regulate your body’s functions (such as menstruation). If you have too little oestrogen, you may experience irregular periods, mood swings, hot flashes and headaches. Too little progesterone may result in weight gain, endometriosis and thyroid dysfunction.

Leading up to menopause, women experience a drop in both their oestrogen and progesterone levels, with the balance between both hormones being out of whack. There’s a greater ratio of oestrogen relative to progesterone, resulting in hot flashes, chills, night sweats, sleep problems, mood changes, weight gain and other symptoms.

So how could certain varieties of fizzy bombs and bath salts accelerate menopause? Some contain 'endocrine disruptors', which interfere with your hormone levels. A subset of this group, xenoestrogens, are synthetic chemicals that mimic oestrogen. When this toxin is absorbed through your skin and enters the bloodstream, it increases the total amount of oestrogen in your body. This artificial spike has been linked to breast cancer, infertility, endometriosis, miscarriages and early menopause. Some reports state that these toxins can push women into menopause four years early!

Many bath bombs and bath salts contain a type of xenoestrogen called parabens, a preservative. They may also contain called phthalates, a chemical used to enhance the flexibility of plastic and vinyl. Bath products may also contain a fragrance compound called Acetaldehyde, which is potentially carcinogenic and can damage the kidneys, nervous system and lungs.

But endocrine disruptors are used in more than just bath bombs! They can be found in pesticides, plastics and industrial chemicals and in foods, such as non-organic dairy and meat. In your home, you may find personal care products with endocrine disruptors in:
  • Sunscreen lotion – commonly containing 4-methylbenzylidene camphor and benzophenone
  • Skincare products, shampoo and deodorants – many contain parabens (which aren’t always listed as such, and may appear on your label as methylparaben, ethylparaben, propylparaben and butylparaben) 
  • Hairspray and perfume – often contain phthalates (which usually isn’t listed as such on the label, and may or may not be hidden by a reference to fragrances). 
  • Antibacterial soaps and hand sanitisers – many contain triclosan and triclocarban, which can weaken the immune system and disrupt thyroid function.

To minimise your exposure to endocrine disruptors, please carefully read the labels of products before purchasing them. Better still, you can make the switch to certified organic products that are free of synthetic chemicals, which is easy to do now that many retailers stock organic products. Organics for Poverty sells a range of bath, shower, skincare, makeup, baby and laundry products that are safe and natural, and all their profits go towards helping to relieve poverty. After all, your health is everything. You deserve peace of mind as far as your personal care is concerned. Especially when you take that relaxing, stress-free soak in the tub.

Cat is a writer and editor with a special interest in natural skincare and community development. In her spare time, she enjoys wrangling ditties on her out-of-tune ukulele, photography, and freshly brewed coffee.