Aunt Flo and the Mystery of the Recalled Tampons

by d
tampons for sale at the checkout counter in Bu...

Image by joguldi via Flickr

A panic is sweeping the internet. For weeks now I’ve been seeing comments sprinkled across forums and news articles along the lines of, “My favorite o.b. tampons are gone–what should I try instead?” I didn’t think much of it, I’m not a fan of o.b. But you can’t ignore a rumor when the NY Times confirms that there’s truth in it:

Bonnie Jacobs, a spokeswoman for McNeil, said that the company had discontinued the ultra line but that other o.b. products should be available soon.

“o.b. tampons experienced a temporary supply interruption that has resulted in some stores being out of stock,” Ms. Jacobs wrote in an e-mail message. “We are working hard to bring supply back in line with demand and expect these stores to be restocked soon. We apologize to o.b. customers who may have been inconvenienced.”

Ms. Jacobs did not elaborate on what caused the “temporary supply interruption.”

The shortage began in September, and now boxes are selling on eBay for up to $130. Talk about brand loyalty!

Women all over are sincerely distressed. Far more than this limp description from a male writer on Consumerist:

… finding a blank space on the store shelf where you expect to find your favorite tampon can be a bit of an aggravation.

Spoken like someone who’s never realized that he forgot to pack his supplies and his period is here early, at the start of a long day away from home.

As a blog about women, we have a natural interest in things that have to do with our woman-bits. But this is also a feminist blog. Carey Goldberg, of Boston’s NPR branch, explains it best:

o.b.s are not just tampons. They’re iconic, representative of the branch of the feminist movement that encouraged women to become comfortable with their own bodies. (Because o.b.s have no applicator, women need to get a little more intimate with themselves when inserting them.)

If the very idea of getting up close and personal with your lady bits alarms you, then o.b.s are not for you. If you put a premium on privacy (they’re small), being environmentally friendly (no applicator, less garbage), and are comfortable with your body, then they might well be.

As for me? I bought a box of o.b.s once without knowing what they were. I used them for that day because I had to, and I was rather miffed. No applicator? Come on, I was in a public bathroom! I consider Less Mess to be one of the prime advantage of tampons. The box has sat in my drawer ever since, untouched. Emergencies-only.

I am now a sworn devotee of menstrual cups, specifically the DivaCup. Ladies, if you’re mourning the lack of your favorite tampon, I highly suggest you try a cup. You’re already comfortable fiddling around Down There, and cups put ANY sort of packaged product to shame when it comes to money and garbage.

That said, I wholeheartedly sympathize. I like the pads I like (back-up) and I get very upset when I can’t find them. I know how you o.b. fans are feeling. And it’s way more than “a bit” aggravated.

7 Comments to “Aunt Flo and the Mystery of the Recalled Tampons”

  1. Good post, D! I had no idea this was even a problem! I prefer not to use tampons without an applicator, but that isn’t because I’m uncomfortable touching myself. I just don’t like getting blood all over my hands and under my nails…not fun. ESPECIALLY in public bathrooms. But, I don’t use tampons that often, they’re my emergency. :p Still, I can definitely see how o.b. fans would be very, very upset that their favorite tampon is out of stock for so long (even just once is rage-worthy), or possibly having been totally recalled or even (gasp) discontinued.

    • URGH, blood under the nails drives me CRAZY. I have long nails and sometimes they get little chips and breaks and things, and it ALWAYS gets in there and refuses to leave.

      • It drives me batty, too! Can you imagine being somewhere and having to work with food or something and someone asks you, “hey, wait, did you wash your hands?” Upon hearing the affirmative, they look at you skeptically and ask, “what’s that under your nails, then?” and you have to either lie or tell the truth. What lie could you come up with, though?? Either way, SOMEthing is staining your fingernails rusty brown! Can you imagine being caught off guard and having to answer, “Uh….menstrual blood…” Or, you could you also think of any of..oh…countless other such embarrassing scenarios.

        Plus, when something is staining your fingernails it just does NOT feel like your hands are sufficiently clean!

  2. yeah, applicators are a must. I hate tampons in general, but OBs.. urgh. But women did like them and for those women I am sad that they are gone.

    Oh, and MAN is it exasperating when I hear men talk about this stuff. And they just have — no — idea what it’s like! To be stranded and bleeding!

    Please, please tell us more about the divacup. Everybody says it’s the better option. The idea is growing on me, though at first I thought it sounded a little weird and messy.

    • I will get to it, I promise! Maybe this month. 😉

      • Great! I want to hear more about this, but I don’t know where to start. Perhaps even include a tutorial on how to use one, for those out there who might be interested in it but have never even so much as used a tampon before. I suppose its not that difficult to look up, but…well some of us are lazy. :p Like me. O.o;

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