A carefree package

Two care packages arrived from my mum today, both full of tampons.

You see I hadn’t realised that feminine hygiene products in Australia were so advanced in the world, so I hadn’t brought any with me, thinking I’d be able to buy the same here in the US. I was quite wrong. Uncomfortably wrong.

When I spent a year travelling, I carried with me a years supply of tampons because I had read that they were hard to find in some countries. So it really isn’t an issue for me to stock up and BYO, I just hadn’t expected the US to be one of those countries.

Confronted with the task of buying tampons, I was horrified to find that there were no other options than applicator ones. At home, there is only one brand of applicator tampons, and at least five major brands of normal cotton and string tampons. There are also various styles as you can get multiple grooves, silk covered tips, spiraling grooves or all of the above. We really are spoilt for choice.

I had never used an applicator before, so it kind of took me back to my teenage years when the whole menstrual cycle was new to me and I was hesitant and unsure. It felt really awkward and I had horrid flashbacks of being at the doctor and getting a pap smear. It was also really difficult to tell if I’d done the whole process properly. All up, I hated the whole thing and longed for my compact and quality made Carefree tampons.

With a population of more than 300 million, I had expected there to be a much better range on offer for American women, but it is clearly dominated by just a couple of  large companies that must make and absolute fortune. Although my favourite feminine hygiene brand, Carefree, is here, they only sell pads and don’t touch the tampon market. After looking in a couple of different places, I did manage to find one brand of tampons, OB, that resembles those at home. However locating OB tampons can be very hit and miss (dare I say irregular) and they aren’t as well made as those from home.

There’s so many levels of why I don’t understand the whole applicator tampon thing:

  • It creates significantly more waste that goes back into the environment.
  • They are big and bulky and don’t fit discreetly in your handbag, purse or pocket.
  • They just don’t feel right.

I’m so driven by the challenge of finding some normal, non-applicator-Tampax-style tampons that I am prowling all supermarket, pharmacy and department store aisles hoping for a miracle discovery.

If you have any suggestions of where to find quality tampons in the US or information on why the tampon situation is so dire, I’d love to hear them in the comments section.