Totally True Tampon Tales!

Autostraddle o.b. tampon article series

Inspired by how happy you are that o.b.® tampons expand all around to custom-fit your body, Autostraddle’s “a custom fit” article series will tackle how to make all the other parts of your life expand/adjust all around to custom-fit your life/self. You’ve got your own place, you’ve got clothes that fit you just right, how to work exercising into your schedule and how to container garden.

But today we’re gonna get literal and actually talk about how much we love the custom fit of ob tampons themselves!


When we first started working with the o.b.® brand on this campaign, we emailed our Music Editor Crystal — she works in advertising in Sydney, Australia — to solicit help brainstorming a title for our o.b.® tampons article series. We gave her the brand background: o.b.® tampons are a “cult brand” with a small but passionate market share (just like this website!), they expand when inserted to custom-fit your body and they’re the only tampon brand in the U.S. without an applicator.

Crystal’s email response opened with: “o.b.® tampons are the only tampon brand in the U.S. that don’t have an applicator? REALLY? wow. my mind = seriously blown. So here’s a fun fact about my country: there is maybe only one brand of tampons on the market that does use applicators, and I couldn’t tell you what the brand is called because it’s not one of the major ones. Applicators are so 1940s.”

Apparently, it is true—take a look at what happens when the o.b.® brand tries to give women in Europe applicators with tampons:

Our minds? Seriously blown. We looked into this and learned that outside of the U.S. and Canada, applicators are about as common as cheese in a can and just as unnecessarily wasteful and processed. It was like when we found out that we’re one of the only countries not using the metric system.

Much like the metric system, o.b.® tampons just make more sense. But you won’t know it ‘til you try it, and thus we present three o.b.® tampon stories for you today.

 


 

Alex

This past April, my band was on our DIY tour up the west coast in our converted school bus that runs on veggie oil. One of our first stops was in San Francisco, which is particularly exciting for me because I get to see my ex/friend/business partner Riese and her girlfriend Marni who were cool/supportive enough to rent a friggin car to be at my show.

By the way, obviously, because I was traveling the country with three dudes in a converted school bus that runs on veggie oil in order to play gigs every night, I got my period. What fantastic timing! Of course the only tampon I had on me was IN me, and so after the show when I went to talk to Riese, still out of breath and sweating buckets, the first thing I said was:

‘OHMYGODDOYOUHAVEATAMPONPLEEEEASE’.

o.b. tampons while on tour

illustration by kristen

Riese handed me an applicator-less o.b.® tampon. I made a face. She made another face. Like a “What do you mean you haven’t switched to o.b.® tampons yet?” face.

I laughed because I’d been putting it off for months, and during those months I’d spent countless hours designing the dedicated o.b.® brand page for this campaign and talking about the brand with their team. I mean, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right?

I sighed: “I guess this was gonna have to happen sooner or later.”

What happened next is the usual: I enjoyed the after party, passed out exhausted on my bunk on our bus and slept while the guys drove us to our next destination. I realized the next day that my o.b.® tampon had been in there overnight. And we’re not talking Day 5 here; it was the second night of my cycle. I grabbed a replacement and went to change it expecting a serious clean-up situation.

What happened next was totally surprising: there WAS no situation at all. The tampon never leaked. I texted Riese about it the next day and I never text that girl because I prefer to call her, leave a voicemail, and then email her about how she never picks up her phone.

My underwear was saved and this awesome product is advertising on our website to our community — both those things are awesome.

I guess I didn’t realize what I was missing until it was literally the only option I had. And I had no idea until I was forced to try it but I’m so glad I did.

 


 

Gabby

I sent away for o.b.® tampons because they were free. Getting free stuff in the mail was one of my favorite things as a kid: teddy bear keychains, mood rings and glow-in-the-dark yo-yos have all landed in my mailbox. Mostly I ordered those things because I was/am a geek and only had like two friends back then, and they were both made-up. Anyway, so you can imagine how insanely pleased I was to be able to add tampons to my list of “free things I’ve gotten in the mail” because, really, why not? Send me everything you’ve got, free world! Also, I was curious about these tiny magic cloud-shaped bullets, like where was the plastic cannon that always accompanied them on their missions? How would this really work?

illustration by kristen

Don’t get me wrong, I love my body and all of its consistent functions of wonder. But I’d never experienced a non-applicator situation and it was time to switch it up, thunder through the monotony of menstruation and make this a hands-on experience. Oh, and the environment is part of this too, I promise. I read somewhere, probably here, that the applicators last approximately eleventy billion years on the earth. I cannot participate in that many years of waste. Nope. So all I had to do was get over this unfounded awkwardness about magic cloud- shaped bullets. You’d think as an adult, I’d be less awkward but no, never a break in the weird feelings.

My free sample of o.b.® tampons arrived inside of a sparkly purple box and who doesn’t love purple sparkly things? I will not apologize for this. Anyway, I opened the box and they tumbled out into the palm of my hand and, well, I was magically transported to 1992.

Ahhh the early 90’s. To both of my Aunts, it was still pretty much 1987. They were wild rock band lovin’ big haired Puerto Rican chicks and in between applying heavy mascara and fringing their leather jackets, they often babysat me. One night, my Aunts relegated me to the spot outside the bathroom door, where I busied myself listening to the non-stop hum of hair dryers and rock music, just waiting for them to need or notice me.

At last the door opened, and a hairdo accompanied by a head and body peeked out — “Grab us some hairspray, we’re out.” I had a mission! Find some hairspray. They had dates to go on and what else was I good for anyway?

Emboldened, I ran my chubby one-eyebrowed self down the stairs and bee-lined for their oversized black leather fringed purses. (They both kept spare bottles of hairspray in their bags. I knew cuz I snooped… whatever.) Pleased that I was about to save the day, I spun around with purses in hand only to trip over the coffee table in the living room at full speed. Contents of both purses spewed everywhere. Keys. Lipstick. Square shiny plastic things with round circles in the middle. Cassette tapes. Bangles. Cigarettes. And these tiny cotton bullets…

The tiny bullets were/are awesome so I ran up the stairs with them and of course, the hairspray, and proudly handed them to my aunts. I asked if I could have some of the cotton things to play with, mainly to throw at my brother and perhaps, use as a headrest for my rock star doll.

The youngest of my two aunts threw me a screw face and said, “Um, no. These are for big girls. And you are a weirdo.” Door shut.

Now I’m an adult and I’ve ridden a mechanical bull, so I convinced myself that using a tampon without an applicator would be a piece of red-velvet cake. It was smaller than I’d expected. Initially, I panicked, wondering how to remove it but then I unwrapped it (duh!). The green safety spring sprung forth from the bottom. Once in place, the slim fit was kind of amazing. It didn’t leave me feeling stuffed and uncomfortable, they felt just right. The pad I strapped on for Day One leakage protection wasn’t even necessary.

What was happening to me? Was I becoming some kind of fancy European lady ready to rip off her top and run around using applicator-free tampons?

Maybe.

Maybe my aunts were right, maybe o.b.® tampons are for “big girls” — women who are cool with their bodies and overcome awkwardness and adjust the world to suit their needs in every way possible.


 

Riese

Due to the exceptionally tiny amount of time between when I went through puberty (15) and when I started taking The Pill (16), I didn’t start having a real serious period until I went off the pill and became a lesbian at age 23. Suddenly I had this actual period that lasted five actual days and came whenever it wanted to instead of every Tuesday between 3 and 5 PM during the placebo-pill week. I hated it.

Suddenly the brand of tampons I chose actually mattered — but honestly, I’d assumed they all performed the same and basically picked tampons based on what was on sale. I learned that my “all-brands-are-the-same” theory was not true in 2009 when I was dating Alex up there who had a huge box of store-brand tampons in her bathroom which turned out to be similar to brand-name tampons in the same way that a wad of tissues is similar to a sanitary pad. So, all tampons don’t use the same technology after all, do they? What else would the wonderful world of womanhood reveal to me? Regardless, I figured leakage was one of many necessary evils of periods, which I hate. Some brands leaked a lot, some leaked less. But everything leaks. Really, I hate my period.

Perhaps like many of you, I’d tried o.b.® tampons over the years because it was all my hippie- friends had around, but to be honest I was always nervous about using the o.b.® brand because I had no idea what to do with it back then. I had zero clue what was going on up there or where, exactly, the tampon even got “applied” by its “applicator.” I wanted to be an o.b.® tampon user because I lived in New York, and every time a period came along to surprise me, I’d have to squeeze a giant box of plastic waste into my day-bag. I envied my friends who used the o.b. ® brand, with their tiny boxes and special tampons that took up less space than lip balm.

Here’s the thing about o.b.® tampons: lesbians love them. The packaging is gender-neutral, it’s designed by an actual female, they’re small enough to fit into pockets and, of course, it’s environmentally friendly. So at some point the forces of lesbian socialization would turn me into an o.b.® tampon user — like dating an o.b.® tampon user, for example, which is exactly what I started doing two years ago.

This was probably my third major effort to convert and what made this try successful is, kinda, that I have a better idea of what’s going on up there, but mostly that I actually took three seconds to figure out how they work. Basically, you unwrap it and pull the string from side to side, which will enlarge the base, providing the surface for your finger to insert the tampon. Yup! Then it expands inside you to “custom-fit” your body. Once you learn this, it’s super easy and there’s absolutely no going back.

When shortly thereafter we were approached about this o.b.® brand campaign, it felt very serendipitous and pretty much sealed the deal. And speaking of sealing the deal, as I was now several months into my brand switch, it had been long enough to note that o.b.® tampons were actually really different than other tampons. Despite not having an applicator, they WORK for me. AND they fit into my pocket. I never would’ve believed it if I hadn’t tried it myself — and you should too.


Check out our dedicated  o.b.® brand page and get your very own magical bullets.

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Profile photo of Alex

Cofounder and Design Director of Autostraddle. Professional web/graphic designer. Whiskey enthusiast. Drumming hobbyist. A past speaker at the 2010 BlogHer Conference ("Good Blog Design: The Role of Layout in an Online Medium"), 2013 Salon LGBTQ Conference ("Innovative Best Practices for Brand-Blogger Campaigns") and featured in the Los Angeles Edition of Refinery29's 30 Under 30 in 2013. Co-owns and manages Tully's Training, a dog training company in Los Angeles. Twitter: @a_ex Instagram: alexxxvegaaa

Alex has written 113 articles for us.

117 Comments

      • Thumb up 3

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        I’m not saying everyone likes them, they’re just sort of the most common kind. As in if I went around asking the same questions as in the video it would be a very different response, in that there would be much less people who hadn’t even really seen them or didn’t understand how they work.

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          Having experience of both UK and US, I would say that the UK applicators are superior to the US ones and also that the product in the UK ones are more comfortable than the US ones despite being the same brand.

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      Are we? I barely even know what an applicator is. It sounds complicated and kinda weird. Then again, maybe my part of the world is just behind the times… you crazy kids and your newfangled tampon technology.

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      We’re not…applicator tampons have been launched a few times but they don’t have the bulk of the market, non-applicator tampons do.

      Applicator tampons are not about ease of use and instead about menstrual shaming – ie ‘menstruation is dirty, you must use applicators to avoid making contact’ – that is a ploy used by tampon manufacturers to keep women using disposables. We in the UK are less prudish about such things as the Americans, which is also why we never really bought into scented sanitary products either.

      For some reason both applicator tampons and scented tampons have made a come back in the last two years (presumably trying to counter the popularity of organic tampons/pads, softcups and reusable options like cloth pads and popular options like menstrual cups in the UK), but applicator tampons are still not as popular.

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          Yes it does, or it used to anyway. I haven’t used tampons in years because I hate them. But tampax was the brand they had in the nurses office/vending machines at my school and it was all non applicator. The only people I know who use applicators are Americans.

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        Really? Because I am from the UK and I have never used a non-applicator tampon. It’s personal choice – my mum didn’t use tampons WITH applicators. But they are so common.

        I didn’t use an applicator because of shame or mess or anything – you get plenty messy – but because an applicator made it easier for me to get the tampon in as deep as it needed to be. It was way too difficult with fingers, especially for a young teenager. And I was using these back in the early 2000s.

  1. Thumb up 38

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    I remember once having an argument with this girl about plastic applicators and the crazy amount of waste they create. The argument ended when she yelled at me “well! If you feel so strongly about it, why don’t you use those cardboard applicators, then?!” to which I replied “because I use o.b. tampons, with no applicators at all.”*

    O.b. tampons, helping me win arguments since 2008
    *I might have said “so, there!” too, because I fight like a child sometimes.

  2. Thumb up 7

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    My mom bought me ob tampons when I was a teen, so I used ob tampons, and the whole them-being-so-tiny-thing (plus the fact that I am in general a prepared for all eventualities person) meant that I always had a few tucked in my bag and never had to borrow from friends. It was really weird when I started buying tampons for myself, and some had applicators (other advantage of the tiny-thing is your mom can buy you a couple boxes when they’re on sale and you can easily take them back to college with you and never have to be a grownup and face the checkout aisle). Anyway, applicators take up a distressing amount of space when you want to shove a few in your pocket and nether carry a purse nor worry all day.

  3. Thumb up 6

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    o.b. totally rules the market in Brazil. We even refer to tampons as o.b.’s. The first time I saw an applicator was in a trip to the US. There’s a new brand trying to introduce the applicators though…

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      YES! I’m American and living in Brazil, and I have had the funniest conversations with my Brazilian friends about this. I taught my girlfriend (who is from here) how to use them with an applicator and she thinks it’s better. Now I feel like I am promoting some archaic and not sustainable technology.

      What is the new brand? I’ve only seen Tampax. I live in Bahia, maybe it’s different in other places.

  4. Thumb up 5

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    May be I am a freak, but I simply cannot insert a tampon without an applicator… It feels like I am trying to put an old crumpled newspaper inside my vagina.
    So, I know applicators are dreadful, environmentally speaking, but it’s that AND a pad the first two days of my period, otherwise I would spend half of my time in the lavatories…

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      I felt the same way, but then my ob free sample was of the ProComfort line, which has this thin covering that a) prevents the tampon from feeling all dry and cottony while inserting and b) makes it seem sturdier when you’re inserting it. That said, obviously use whatever you’re comfortable with, but these worked for me!

      I love the ob ProComfort line (I used to use playtex sport, and they’re similar to them in that they open up all around and fit to your body, but better in that they’re tiny and cost slightly less for twice as many), but I don’t like the regular ob. They feel dry and the higher absorbency ones are kind of painful.

  5. Thumb up 8

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    Being Norwegian, this is so amusing to me! Ob is pretty much the only tampon we have. I mean, we have other brands, but it’s so common we don’t even call it tampons, we call it Ob. Anyways, I didn’t find out it was unusual in America until when I was living there and a friend needed to borrow a tampon and I handed her the Ob…. I can still remember that confused face. I had to explain have to insert it and everything.

  6. Thumb up 19

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    i live with 3 awesome feminist environmentally friendly ladies (2/3 of which are also queer, yes i lead the good life) so the other night when i needed a tampon i assumed no one would have one because they all use diva cups and i’m the horrific asshole who just can’t do that.

    so i kind of whined/yelled “PLEASE FOR THE LOVE OF GOD DO ONE OF YOU GUYS HAVE SOMETHING OTHER THAN A DIVA CUP THAT I CAN USE RIGHT NOW” and lo and behold one of them did! but…it was o.b., and even though i love the shit out of a brand that will give us their money to exist on our site, i just could never handle the idea of putting in a tampon with no applicator.

    but then i did, and it was amazing.

    kind of an anti-climactic ending, i know, but the climactic version would’ve been “AND THEN IT WAS HORRIBLE AND I STAINED MY SHEETS AND CRIED AND HATED MY LIFE” so i feel like in this instance the anti-climax kinda is the point, right?

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      I am totally also one of those feminist environmentalists with a Diva Cup, but I’m also part of residence hall staff at my college to I try to be sure to have tampons and pads around for use by others in emergencies – and yup, I only have applicator-less tampons. I didn’t even really know applicators were a thing until a couple years ago.

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    Do o.b. tampons work well with people with vaginismus? The couple of times I’ve tried tampons my body immediately seized up with ARGH NO GET THIS OUT OF ME NOWWWWWW ALL THE PAIN and I’ve had similar issues with menstural cups (that’s if I can ever get them *in* there).

  8. Thumb up 11

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    So I have this thing about touching menstrual blood and like to put as many degrees of separation as I can between me and it…but you guys have convinced me to at least try them, if for no other reason than to not feel so guilty about being so environmentally unfriendly. Biking and being vegan? Way too hard for me. Switching tampon brands? Now that I can do.

  9. Thumb up 2

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    I hope this doesn’t violate the policy, but maybe for some people/vaginas applicator-less tampons are not quite recommendable? I can only wear them (with the polluting applicators of shiny-perfect smoothness) on the first two days, otherwise I’m too dry and it’s very painful, and the one time I tried an applicator-less tampon I literally felt like I was shredding my insides. The mere thought still makes me shudder. This was Day One, so technically quite a bit of blood in there, and I still had to keep myself from whimpering in pain. I don’t know anyone else with this problem, and only got confused or compassionate faces from my friends.

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      If tampons cause you a lot of painful dryness then you might actually get along better with a cup- even the best tampons can soak up stuff other than menstrual blood, whereas a cup just collects the stuff so things don’t get as dry. That said, cups aren’t for everyone and can take a bit of getting used to.

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        Okay, so I’ve actually heard of people using a silicone based lubricant to insert tampons and other menstrual products when it causes pain/dryness to put them in there. I DO NOT KNOW IF THAT IS RECOMMENDED and I don’t need to do so myself, so I have no personal experience with this, but it might be something to bring up with your doctor?

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          When I signed up for a free sample of ob on their website I received the ProComfort ones! I had similar feelings, and can’t use the regular obs, but I swear by the ProComforts.

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            Looks like their sample offer is expired (in Canada anyway) for some reason. Oh well. I’ll try some when I’ll be in France this Christmas (and thanks for the lube advice, I’ll definitely try that!).

    • Thumb up 3

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      The cups aren’t that bad if you fold them up and insert them properly. Since they’re not…sticky/fuzzy/any of that they tend to go in pretty easily, even if you’re a smaller person down there, BUT CLEARLY THIS VARIES. The better part is that they also come out easily if you didn’t like, bleed enough that a tampon would come out easily without attempting to shred your bits.

      I agree that lube is a thing that might possibly be helpful in this situation, and I’m also curious as to whether you used OB? When I need tampons for things (handing to friends! keep a couple for emergencies! etc) I have OBs on hand because I tend to think the outside does glide in way better than others, and also the no applicator thing.

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        (It was o.b., the regular kind, not the Pro Touch. I’m pretty sure in Canada they’re the only applicator-less tampons available.)

        For cups, are they a thing even if you’re REALLY small down there? As in, I’m a two-fingers maximum person and they use a child speculum on me?

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          Meluna makes the smallest cups I know of. They make a minicup in their soft and classic verisons. Their classics are already softer than the standard cup. Plus, you can get a glitter one!

  10. Thumb up 7

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    I am from czech republic, which I assume you don´t even know where is :-D and i´m using o.b. tampons since i first got my period. This is so funny for me, i tried applicator once in my life and was really confused why would anyone use it. And for those who find tampons uncomfortable, o.b. has line of tampons called proComfort and that really is something.

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      Yeah, I feel like a 13-year-old or something but pads are where it’s at for me. It’s only in the last few years that I’ve started ever using tampons at all after finding it absolutely impossible as a teenager when I’d try to make one of my mom’s o.b.s work for me (now I have a box or two around for swimming situations). Sure, pads can be sort of gross, but it’s easy to tell what’s going on, more or less; with tampons I’m always nervous they’re going to start leaking all of a sudden, and there’s also something a little off-putting to me about the concept of just plugging all that blood up inside your body. But these brand suggestions are good for the next time I buy them!

  11. Thumb up 3

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    the comments are starting to scare me…you can buy different sizes of tampons right ? or not ??? because we have very tiny tampons for the last days, there is no way you can feel uncomfortable or dry. I have never heard about this problem from anyone, and period and tampons are absolutely no tabu in here, so we talk about it openly.

  12. Thumb up 6

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    America only has one brand of applicator-free tampons? WHHAATT?! Crazy. I feel you guys do badly in the sanitary wear and chocolate department. Two things I noticed when traveling there in 2006.

    Anyway, who brought us Tampax? Cos they SUUUUCCKK. Lil-Lets and OB are both designed by women and they rock. Periods are seriously a different world since I discovered them.

    • Thumb up 2

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      Seventh Generation and NaturaCare make applicator-free tampons, but they’re also the organic cotton “hippie” tampons. The people who shop at stores that carry them are probably just as likely to use cups, cloth pads, and menstrual sponges.

      I’ve only ever used obs (and NaturaCare, in a pinch), but prefer my cup. Actually, when I got my IUD, I went back to obs: I was too afraid to use my cup with my IUD, and the obs nestled nicely in my purse for that intermittent spotting that was my uterus’s adjustment to the Mirena. Now that I rarely get my period, one box has lasted me for a year!

  13. Thumb up 1

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    I totally like tampons without applicators, and I definitely use ob (it’s what’s in my bathroom right now!). I also have adventured to the realms of menstrual cups and cotton pads, which are awesome for the same reasons as applicator-free tampons: better for the environment! Though I get that the ick factor might deter some of us, I don’t super mind it, so this works for me.

    The only thing I don’t 100% love about lots of widely-available tampons and pads are the kind of weird plastic-y coating that some of them have (and yes, haha, I did take off the plastic wrapper!). For instance, I have ob’s Pro Comfort tampons, and they have this very thin shiny outer later (maybe to make insertion easier?) which I don’t totally love because I don’t know what it’s made of and, after all, it’s going to be in a very sensitive part of my body for a few hours. So, when I can afford it, I sometimes switch between ob and other organic, applicator-free cotton tampons.

    That said, I totally like ob and would definitely recommend them! My mom always used Tampax until I made her switch. :)

  14. Thumb up 8

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    When I was a young teen my cousin wanted to take me surfing for the first time ever, but I had just gotten my period which was still very new and overwhelming to me. Instead of letting me chicken out of surfing bc I had my period and hadn’t used a tampon before, my cousin bought me OBs and explained how to use them and everything! Clearly my cousin is the best and I proceeded to only use OB until a few years ago when I was a starving uni student and i realized the nameless brand are super cheap. Reading this reminds me of how awesome OB is and that I actually have enough monies not to have to buy the cheapest everything anymore!

    Also I love getting things in the mail too so I’m thinking I should start ordering them from amazon through Autostraddle and support all the things!

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      ^ I actually ordered a ton extra through Autostraddle/Amazon so that I could supply the bathroom at my day job with tampons for the amount of times I’ve forgotten some and had to mooch off the kindness of my co-workers. I did it to support all the things! I love supporting brands that support us!

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    While I love o.b.s and use them occasionally (I’m really weird and some months I feel like using my cup, some months I feel like pads, some months I say fuck it all and use o.b.s, and some months I use a combination of the three) but it isn’t true that they’re the only brand of applicator-less tampons in the US. I used to buy an absurdly expensive brand whose name I don’t remember at Whole Foods because they don’t have all the nasty chemicals that drugstore brands do…

  16. Thumb up 2

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    While this article is great and highly relevant to my interests as someone who bleeds from the neener region on a regular monthly basis, I am confused by the author’s name appearing as “a;ex”. Thought I should point it out in case it was a typo.

    Also, next month I’ll be buying o.b.® tampons. This product placement thing really does work!

  17. Thumb up 23

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    True story. I accidentally left one of my drawers open the other morning and my cats went spelunking. I didn’t realize until I found them batting around a bunch of my OB tampons like they were catnip toys. They NEVER did that with my Tampax. It seems even these pus…er, I mean cats prefer OB!

  18. Thumb up 2

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    Spelunking! :D

    I too have a feline spelunker, only he can open the drawers by himself. I never know what random object will be batted into the middle of a conversation with guests. So far no tampons, but that could totally happen.

  19. Thumb up 2

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    I remember watching Sex and the City and thinking “wow, American tampons are long.” Took me years to understand why. Still I don’t really understand Applicators, I mean why they are there. But that’s probably because there was never a real option for me. I mean you can buy them in Germany, but I’ve never met someone who does. I think most people don’t even know they exist.

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    in Australia hardly anyone uses applicator tampons but they’re around. Mostly for teenagers I suppose. Cos learning to use tampons is just so freakin awkward no?

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      Funny story – as an aussie, the first time I had my period I used applicator tampons (because we’d been given them as a free sample in school sex ed classes). I couldn’t work out how to use the applicator bit, so just pulled it off and used them as a “normal” tampon (in Australia, anyway).

      Embarassingly, I’m an engineer, and was always pretty good with instructions and sticking stuff together… evidently for me the “normal” way was heaps easier than the applicators!

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      I always got the feeling the applicator ones were for older women, though that might just be because that’s what my mum had and teen magazines were always full of Libra ads when I was that age.

      I tried applicator ones once when I was desperate and that’s what the vending machine had, they were awful. If I’m ever in the US. I will note to bring extra tampons just in case.

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        I think the vending machine tampons are the worst of the bunch. I borrowed some Tampax Pearls from my sister once, and the applicator was way nicer (more rounded, comfortable) than the cardboard tubes of the vending machine Tampax. They even expanded outwards more than the crummy Tampax did. So different models vary?

        Bringing your own is a good idea even so!

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    This article would have totally convinced me if I hadn’t already decided to buy a cup, which I’m pretty excited to try. If, for whatever reason, I need to buy tampons again, I’ll give o.b. another shot. My mom has always used them because she has a tilted vagina, like many women do (another thumbs-up for applicator-free).

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    So, does anyone remember a while back (maybe a year ago?) when there was this awful shortage/product redesign/I have no idea thing going on and it was super hard to get ob tampons in the states? Did I imagine that up?

    I dunno, anyway the point is that I couldn’t find ob tampons in my hometown for a solid three or four months and as soon as they hit the shelves again I stockpiled them like I was preparing for menstrual apocalypse. They are the best.

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    I’ve never liked tampons, but the only one I’ve not actively disliked is o.b.

    One time I had this weird guy roommate and he saw one of my housemate’s o.b. tampons lying around and decided to put it in his mouth. Brings new meaning to “cottonmouth”…

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    I started using o.b. tampons my second period, when I was 13, because I COULD NOT understand why anyone would want to use a massive applicator, plus because have you guys noticed how most tampons feel like they’re made of the sharp edges of cardboard? o.b. are SO SOFT. I switched to a menstrual cup this year, which I think might be even more “cutting edge” than venturing forth without an applicator, but since that’s not for everyone (including my girlfriend, who has taken almost 2 years to be persuaded into the o.b. world of fantastic) I must insist that everyone buy a box of o.b. immediately. YESTERDAY!!

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    I am a total hippie and use cups/reusable pads and such. However, I keep a box of Ob’s around for guests. I always thought applicators were just a learning tool, so to speak. Like once you got the hang of it you switched over to the big girl tampons. just saying.

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      yes, totally, re: learning tool — i can’t imagine having used obs as a teenager, like even with the applicator i was hella confused — but now i can’t imagine using the applicator ever again. plus the plastic on the applicators tends to cut me, which really adds insult to the injury of having my period in the first place which i wish would never happen ever

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    so, first time buying tampons in this fine american country, i couldn’t find ob (which is the most common brand in europe but whatever), i ended up with this weird applicator business and decided to just remove the applicator (because wtf?!) – and really the thing inside didn’t look like a tampon at all! just a cheap gross bunch of pressed together fabric which i was not going to stick inside my body, thank you
    (in the end i did find ob and all was well)

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    o.b.s really are the best, mostly because they also sell the tiny “mini pro comfort” version which is the only thing that works for me.

    Where I come frome, “o.b.” is mostly even used instead of the word “tampon.” I tried applicator-“o.b.”s once (the o.b.-brand sells them in Germany), but thought that the applicator was really uncomfortable and useless…

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    slightly off topic: I understand that OB tampons are environmentally friendly compared to tampons with applicators. But I’ve always hated how people are so condescending with their sanitary products. “Oh, you use pads? Gross, tampons are way better.” “Oh, you use tampons with applicators? How barbaric!” “Oh, you mean you still use tampons? Haven’t you ever heard of a Diva Cup?”

    it really annoys me. but yes. OB is a good brand.

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    okay. okay. this always really annoys me.

    we do not all understand the metric system in the UK. I am 23 and I talk about miles (e.g. london is 50 miles from cambridge. what’s that in kilometres? NO FUCKING IDEA). we use stones and pounds for weight, inches, yards and miles for distance. Our motorways list both but British people will look at the miles, foreigners look at the kilometres. We use pints for milk and beer (e.g. going to the pub for a pint).

    I don’t know why but this seriously annoys me!! read up on the UK and imperial and metric systems, a simple google search will set you straight!! AGHHH!

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      I listed my age just to point out it’s still the system that we teach younger generations.

      Also we do spell metre differently from Americans but we barely even use it so that’s a moot point.

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        Maybe, but we do not all understand the imperial system. I’m only a few years younger than you and I measure things (except height) in metres and centimetres, weigh things (except people) in grams, buy lemonade in litres. Although long distances are always in miles.

        It’s a confusing state of affairs, really.

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    I hafta say, at first when I saw these I was kinda like, ‘urghh such blatant advertising whyy’ but then I read them all anyway and I went along my way, until I got my period an hour ago. And I was standing in Duane Reade trying to pick the least-of-all-evils, when for the first time ever I actually took note of o.b. tampons instead of going straight for tampax. First reaction was, holy hell there’s just as many tampons in there as in the tampax box but its 1/4 the size! and it doesn’t scream to all of duane read that I just got my period! I was thoroughly convinced and bought a box. I have yet to try them, but I have high hopes!! You may have actually swayed me!

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    The first time I used tampons they were OB tampons because it was like, my second or third period ever and my friend was having a pool birthday party? or we were having a pool gathering? I don’t know.

    It was kinda complex at first but I figured it out and was very grateful. And another one of my friends sat out one of these gatherings, in that obvious “I have my period, look at me” way, and I hadn’t told people I had graduated to the stage of bleeding from my bits yet so I was like…why don’t you just…*gestures* and she was like “oh someday you’ll understand” in a condescending fashion.

    Middle schoolers are weird, OB are cool, cups work even better for me. The end!

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    I went to Colombia for 5 months, which meant I would only have 1 or 2 periods during the whole trip (I take the 90Days pill because I hate periods too much). Well… the time came, and off I went to search for tampons and gigantic pads (those are the only ones I use, otherwise I’m uncomfortable and insecure which makes my cramps worse. Honestly, if people don’t notice by the package, they will notice by my mood so who cares?!). Anyways… turns out I couldn’t find “gigantic overnight pads” (Even the pads for “after pregnancy” were small to me) and I couldn’t find tampons for big flows or with an applicator!! I was destroyed! This was definitely going to be the worst time of my life!!

    Anyway, I had to live with the choices I had. It seemed that the best options were the expensive O.B. tampons that I had never heard of before and doubling the pads, hehe. I picked O.B. because I’m a visual person and the box was very attractively designed… (not going to lie… I also chose it because it was the most expensive so they must’ve been good, lol). I got to the hotel room, and read the whole box and info inside! I did not regret it… They sounded like a cool product and I felt like a good person for using it, but I still missed the applicator and the super sized/big flow products from the states. Like many people have said, it feels weird putting tampons in without an applicator, and I felt uncomfortable thinking they might not be properly put in to stay put and not annoy me. At the end, I had to use both a tampon and a not so secure pad at the same time to feel comfortable. Thankfully, that was the only period in Colombia and I came back to old habits in the US. I had to go to Colombia again for another 6 months, but this time I packed my not-so-green tampons and pads… LoL!

    However, thanks to this great marketing campaign you got going on here (Kudos!), I will give them another chance if I ever use tampons again (Thanks to the pills my periods are short and light enough to not need tampons because I’m scared Toxic Shock will hit me if I use tampons for such low flows). I believe I am also more comfortable with my periods, so it will be simpler to feel good using these without an applicator. I guess we will see…

    So… yeah, that’s it. Thought I’d over-share. ;)

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    I’m from Germany and I’ve never seen an applicator tampon in my life! We do have lots of cheaper brands of tampons, so I thought it was a little strange that you tell “o.b. tampon tales” because I thought that o.b. is just like any tampon, only that it’s one of the more expensieve options… I knew that you get money from o.b. to advertise their products, but I had no idea why you should think that an o.b. tampon was anything special compared to other tampons for real, but now i know!

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    I think I’m the target audience for this post – loyal AS reader, never used anything but tampax (with cardboard applicators, for the environment) or playtex (what my gf uses). I steeled myself for reading this with “it is an ad, not an article, they just need money, they will say anything, don’t listen to it” but now I want to get some o.b.’s next time. I’m so susceptible to targeted marketing!

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    Funny o.b. story- Last year when I was skyping a friend while living in Guatemala, my little host sister found my tampons and started making them march on my head without me noticing. Well my friend I was skyping with did! Lil sis then announced that she had found my drugs because apparently o.b. tampons also look like cocaine bullets.

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    This video confuses me because Europe, as a continent, has about 50 countries in it, each with different cultures, languages, brands and approaches to the menstrual cycle – so I am wondering which countries they used for this video, because it is very unclear!

    In the UK applicator tampons are fairly common, with cardboard or plastic applicators, although of course non-applicator tampons are just as or more popular. The majority of us know what they are.

    …we also use the metric system AND the imperial system. At the same time.

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    1.In Europe we do have tampons with aplicators and we do not find them (aplicators) weird at all…

    2.I only buy tampons with an aplicator because

    a)its easier to place the tampon at the right place
    b)it is more hygenic I dont want to insert a finger (with all its bacterial flora) inside a bloody vagina

    3.I tried o.c. and they feel VERY uncomfortable compared to Tampax.

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    Ok guys I’m not sold anymore. It literally fell out of my Vagina. Good god what a mess. But how could I possibly mess that up so hard? I thought it must have been me, maybe I didn’t put it up far enough. (I thought I did though!) So I tried another one again, and this one did not fall out of my vagina but I did bleed all over my favorite goddamn boxer briefs after it was only in for an hour. Like, my flow was heavy but c’mon man. It didn’t even all look used up, just like it never fully expanded or something? No dice guys, you made me buy one box but uh, I think imma just save these suckers for when my period’s real light. The lack of applicator did not bother me in the slightest, but the fact that the ‘super’ one was way too tiny and useless to contain an hours worth of lady-juices is no good in my book.

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