Sanitary Napkins Ruling Asia Over Tampons

Before I begin, I just wanted to mention this entry should not be viewed as being a “studied” or “researched” piece but more anecdotal or my own opinion on this matter. Please don’t expect authoritative statistics or anything 🙂

So I wanted to wander into the territory that in Asia, sanitary napkins (herein known as maxi pads or just pads) seem to still dominate the feminine hygiene market of Asia. With that said, I still think it dominates the market throughout the world, but more so in Asia due to the culture of the populace having misunderstandings or even anti-tampon sentiments. I understand that pads were of course available prior to tampons, therefore has a bigger influence, but there are certainly merits to using tampons, most notably, the ability to engage in water activities. Now I’m personally not a tampon lover, so I’m definitely not advocating them, but I believe they do have their value and when writing about them, I should of course give a neutral opinion of them! About 2 years ago, there was this amazing article written up (with actual statistics) by a news writer about pads still being the preferred (and by preferred, I mean highly-used) method of feminine hygiene products in China. Alas, the article is long gone and I can’t even find an archived copy of it. However, unless things have changed a lot over the past 2 years, this is probably still true. Having been back to both China and Hong Kong just last year, I can attest that there are definitely more choices of pads than there are tampons. Furthermore, tampons will also tend to be more expensive (the price gap is larger between pads/tampons) and only offered at your chain-stores. On that note, there are also fewer sales for tampons unless I was simply unlucky while I was there, because for the 5 weeks I was in HK, every week there would be a different brand of pads on sale, but not a single week of tampons being on sale. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t mind, lol.

I must gloat a bit about how great pads in Asia are so that might be a factor as to why not as many girls “convert” to using tampons. You don’t have to believe me, you can just look at the links on the side, choose the pads-brand from Asia and see how intricate the technology is used compared to the “big makers” here in North America. Mind you we also have fewer popular brands dominating the market, therefore, our manufacturers have no need to “make things better” when they have already hold the monopoly. On the other hand, there are so many brand name products in Asia that if you don’t stay on top of other competitors, you’ll lose market share. While Asian pads tend to focus on comfort, thinness, length and efficient absorbption, I think the makers here worry about making it silent, discrete, small and forget that when it comes to a menstrual product, the biggest factor is whether it can “do its job.”

I digress – sorry, bad habit. Many girls take cue from their mother when it comes to choice of menstrual protection. It is true that at some point, a girl will make her own decisions, but for the most part, I will say they follow-suit with their mother’s (or a female-relative/guardian) choice of products. Perhaps a really loose example, but a child who sees her mother smoking is more likely to smoke and likewise, a girl who sees her mom using pads will more likely choose pads over tampons (at start). I know that had I been a girl, my mom would likely never let me use tampons, I remember seeing her throw out a box before (not an empty one) and such is your typical Asian family. There is something repulsive about having to “stick something up there” when it comes to menstrual protection. I believe culture plays an important part of demystifying menstrual hygiene for girls of all backgrounds. In my opinion, your average white Canadian or American family is likely to be “accepting” of tampons than say your average “coloured” family. Out of my girls group, only 1 of them use tampons regularly, 1 uses them to masturbate (hehe) and 2 of them have tried. Of course my fellow flow-lovers will not mind this, but the point is that our upbringing really plays an important part in the choice of menstrual protection and whether that seems to really make a difference, I think it does. Case in point, my god-sister’s mom refuses to let her use tampons and in several instances has even taken them from her room and thrown it in the garbage and gave her a verbal warning (that’s a waste of money by the way, it isn’t cheap :P). I will often buy her tampons with her because she knows she cannot ask her mom to buy it and she doesn’t get let out of the house enough to do it herself. We were able to fool her mom a bit because I had her switch to a smaller sized brand, O.B, which she could easily hide. It worked for a few months until her mom noticed that the pads in the house weren’t being used up (they have a communal stash) and with some searching managed to find her tampons. Even her older sister says, “Those things are bad for you, you should not put anything up there!” and “You should not use them.” so clearly, tampons are still not accepted by your average Asian family. Now you might say this is one case, but this is just the most recent scenario I’ve seen, I’ve talked to quite a few girls who have had simlar experiences because their culture, background, upbringing affected their “right” to use tampons and heck, when your mother continually throws them up, you can’t do anything else but give up.

I have quite a few relatives who send their kids over to study in Canada and I offer (to the daughter) to help her with shopping and very I notice none of them ever buy tampons because it is just not something commonly used “back at home”. They will always stumble staring at the feminine hygiene aisle because it is so different than what they are used to seeing the entire shelf filled with pads and a little tampon section in a corner. Meanwhile in Canada, they stand there looking at a “half-and-half” shelf of pads/tampons and with the pretty designs on tampon boxes, they didn’t even know it wasn’t pads inside. Some had to even ask me about what the “other things” were because they weren’t knowledgeable tampons and a guy explaining it in FH aisle to a girl is always an awkward situation. I didn’t believe it the other day when I thought that everyone was over the whole “tampons causes you to lose your virginity” thing until I was reading a Singaporean forum the other day (in English, lol)  and realized there are still many girls who relate the usage of tampons to losing their virginity, ARG! Unless your tampon also has a live penis attached to it, you’re not going to lose your virginity! Tampons are also small, so it is not going to make you loose like a goose either. If they began proper education of tampons in China and Hong Kong, it might allow more girls to adopt usages accordingly rather than perpetuating mis-information regarding tampons.

I’ve been concentrating a lot on those two regions because I’m familiar with them, but this is prevalent in places like Korea and Taiwan as well (from my minor bits of research and talking to friends). One of the links in my widget is actually a girl in Taiwan who promotes the understanding of tampons and is trying to get more retailers to sell them. In Taiwan, pads are a definite market-ruler and she actually has to spend a lot of time importing tampons for herself or to sell because they are not widely available there. Availability certainly plays an important part on market dominance since if you don’t offer them, no one can buy. I have found however tampons have been hard to break into the culture and Chinese mentality. I remember growing up with one of my girls and when she was 12 and got her first period, she swore upon that she’d NEVER use tampons, but then just 3 years ago I started seeing boxes of tampons in her closet and I teased her about it because she was so anti-tampon back then. “Things change” was her reply and sure enough they do! I think that same change needs to take place in Asia with proper information being dispered about it. It is one thing if girls choose to stick with pads (which is really awesome anyways, lol) but it is another thing if girls aren’t being introduced to the existence/usage/information about tampons that they can make an informed decision on what to use, then that’s a problem.

Japan on the other hand is the only Asian country I know of who are really adapting to the usage of tampons and more and more girls are using them there. With that said though, tampon usage proportionally is still lagging behind North America. Again, this really comes down to Asian culture and how we influence the idea of “putting a wad of cotton up there” even if it is a practical form of menstrual protection. I can certainly understand the risk of TSS though, so I’m not downplaying the fact tampons do carry a risk-factor. Funny enough the other day I was talking to Poh Ching and asked her sheepishly whether they sell tampons in Malaysia, haha, and her reply was that whether I thought people lived in the forest there or something! I chuckled because my question was more geared towards whether girls in Malaysia are open to the idea of tampons or whether they are like the majority of Asia where tampons are accessible, but not widely used. On that note, many of the girls in Malaysia I’ve talked to (whether living there or moved away) are all pad users, I have yet to talk to one who uses tampons. Of course this comes down to whether it is just “luck of the draw” who I have talked to or whether or not those girls misrepresented the menstrual-protection stat by all happening to be pad users and not tampon users. However this could also be used to prove the fact there’s a larger populace who still use pads over tampons. For their sake, at least they do seem to know the existence of it, but given what I’ve read from forums, many are still misinformed about them.

Hopefully in time, tampons will become more notable in Asian countries. While being a pad lover I hope tampons will never “take over” but for water sports, it is almost a must. I love a girl who balances both tampons and pads, but hey, a guy can’t ask for too much right? I’m really blessed to have so many girl-friends willing to discuss this with me and take seriously my interest. From the last period my god-sister has, looks like she’s reverted back to using pads (she says on her own accord, but I doubt it, hah), but we went swimming last time when she was on her period so I’m pretty sure she didn’t have much of a choice. I sure as hell hope she wasn’t wearing a pad in the pool! I know a lot of my girls in China/HK just avoid swimming all together when they’re “on” rather than using tampons which is a shame, but I’m not sure the same can be done if they were professionally swimming rather than just casually. Also, it’d suck to miss out on a beach-day just on the account of that. Hopefully the Chinese government will spend some money on promoting proper information about tampons like they do with condoms, lol.

About Prexus Swyftwynd

Probably not a good idea for you to know anything about me....

Posted on February 2, 2010, in Periodtastic and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 30 Comments.

  1. Did I also mention that they used to have full=page ads (or something about that size – if not I wouldn’t notice it :P) on the newspaper for O.B? Don’t know about other parts of the world, but here there’s even male promoters who promote pads, so yeah – not ALL Asian countries are that, erm, conservative =P Since ur such a fan of such and such, you’ll probably be thrilled if you ever step in the supermarket here LOL

    Also, I do know of a friend who happens to be a virgin and happens to have attempted to use a tampon. I say attempted, because – that’s all it really was, an attempt! She tried to stick it up there but it hurt like hell and she swore NEVER to use them again =P

    IMHO, girls who are virgins prefer NOT to stick anything up there – because – ehem – it’s strange to feel something up there that’s not an….. appendage belonging to your erm… husband. HAHAHAHAH. IMHO, its those girls who have had sex before who are more open to tampons. We virgins do not like the idea of sticking something “foreign” up there =.= It’s just……. Foreign. LOL.

    p.s I said “jungle”, not “forest” =P

  2. WTF, full page ads? Even here they are pretty rare for O.B. not very agressive. I think only a few times have I saw a full-page ad in a chick magazine. There are actually quite a few commercials within the past 3-4 years in Hong Kong that all center around guys promoting pads so I think Asia is really opening up the idea that men should be involved (in a decent way). They even had a WATSONS commercial, you might like it, the guy is pretty hot 😛 I honestly wonder what’s going through the guy’s mind when he’s asked to do a commercial like that XD If I ever visit you, that’s the first place you’re taking me ok? The SUUPPAAMAKET!!!

    This goes back to what I said to you over MSN last time, what do you think of my friends? LOL… my friends use tampons and they’re still virgins – OR – they were a virgin when they started using tampons! BLAH. She probably isn’t using the tampon right, that’s her problem -_- not the tampons fault jeh. Blame her inability to use the product properly, lol. Wait until she takes another “thing” up there… that will hurt even more then, hah. Are all your girl-friends virgins? If so, introduce them all to me plz XD

    “We virgins” like you speak for all of them, lol. I wish my ex-ex girlfriend would comment on this, she’ll rip you apart for saying that 😛 Virginity ≠ Tampon usage, lalallalala. If you used your fingers and some sex toys once in a while, then it wouldn’t be foreign. 😀 Now get on MSN, I’m waiting for you!! So what do you do when you want to go swimming and you’re on your period >.> ccheeeee!

    • LOL, most of them are HAHAHAHA. Dummy you! Girls here do not play with such naughty toys if they are virgins!!! =.= Geez you must remember that the culture here and in Canada is so much different – Canada is so much more liberal =P Here we preserve ze lovebox for our husbands on our wedding nights *wink wink* So no tampons until ze lovebox has been “opened” WTFish HAHAHA. Most of my guy friends are too *wink wink* =P

      Don’t swim la duh =.= Swimming can wait another day! HEHE.

      • Yes they do… lol, maybe it really is where you live that you perceive toys with not being a virgin, haha. I suppose things are different there and the girls are not as horny? 😀 I don’t think it’s just Canada that’s liberal, it’s pretty “open” in places like Japan (ESPECIALLY, haha), HK, Taiwan and ML China.

        You say “preserve” and it makes me think of taking it out and sealing it in a glass bottle, hahahaha, like you say, CHOI! Wedding night? OMFG 😛 Now I really know to stick with Malaysian girls, so “gwai lui” (good girl)… totally my type of girls ^___^

        Well your guy friends being virgins have no bearing on me, I’m not into that, heh. Not swim? Cheee… only if you weren’t on like a swimteam or something, but what about if there’s like a huge beach party of something? PFT!

        Don’t believe you call it a LOVEBOX!!!!! OMFG… hahahahaha.

  3. Hello my dear weird friend,
    Haha, I’m kinda back. 🙂 Regarding this post, well, being a Filipina and living in the Philippines, it’s safe to assume that I’m a PAD user. Not that I haven’ tried tampons. I did, once (I think) for some swimming activity. Never used them after that though. Because they were hard to come by in groceries and supermarkets. I wonder how I even managed to grab hold of one during said swimming activity. Hmm..
    Actually, come to think about it, I’ve never seen them in the FH aisles in supermarkets here. Duh.

    • Lucky you 🙂 You have some of the best stuff available to you, why the hell would you want to use tampons anyways? PSH. (Oh god, Veronica is going to kill me… haha)

      One of my (girl)friend goes to the Philippines a lot for business. She says she has to bring her own tampons, lol – so I’m sure there’s a reason for that.

      Can’t wait to hear about your exciting news about going back to med-school! That’s too cool. Don’t you think it’d be rather hard balancing a child + school? You sure have energy and endurance, phew!

  4. There’s good info here. I did a search on Google, Keep up the good work mate!

  5. A lot of asian mothers are very paranoid about their daughter’s virginity.

    But the thing is, they also avoid talking about SEX at all costs. I hope you understand these two points cuz now I’m going to explain this thing about asian mothers and tampons.
    Yes, a lot of them still think that using tampons equates to losing your virginity, and hence your future husband would not be happy… when I was 13, my mother found the tampons and then became a crying wreck, and told me that I will never marry or something stupid like that.
    There is also a connotation that people who use tampons are people who have already had sex. Hence, if you are caught carrying tampons around, it’s the same as carrying condoms around – i.e. proof that you are sexually active.

    My ordeal with my crazy hysterical mother did not end just there as well: after all the screaming and crying (I was stunned, I didn’t know whether I pitied her over guilt or for being so stupidly old-fashioned) she forced me to go to a female doctor to have me “checked” to see if I am still a ‘virgin’ i.e. having my hymen intact. The doctor obviously didn’t and had to counsel my mum and tell her that the hymen/virginity thing is not significant anymore, and that even when people marry nowadays it did not matter. Something that should have been so obvious. I think I swore to myself never to marry an asian, just to be sure that he wasn’t raised to have old-fashioned sexist views on virginity.

    I have to say it is one of the most embarrassing situations I have ever been in with my mum

    • I agree and I think it’s the case for a few of my god-sisters whose mothers disallow them to use tampons. While I know “safety” (risk of TSS) is present and I can understand their distress, certainly the idea of losing ones virginity through usage a feminine hygiene product is preposterous.

      I completely understand what you mean when you talk about Asian families and the topic of sex. I’ve never received “the talk” and most of what I learned was from friends, the media and of course – the internet. Luckily for me, I haven’t made a grave mistake yet like getting a girl knocked up, LOL. The funny thing is that it isn’t until recently that overhearing a discussion between my aunt and my mom that neither of my parents wanted to do the talk with me because they pretty much figured “I’ll learn everything I need to from school” and really, school taught me diddly crap (I think I knew more than the teacher did through my own research). Given that I was a guy and didn’t get the talk, I’m thinking it’s even worse with the girls, they’re just told simply to “not be taken advantage of.”

      Unfortunately, I think that’s the case with why I don’t carry condoms around, especially if my mom were to find them, she would freak out. Although my bebe and I don’t plan on having sex anytime soon, to me, I see it as a safety precaution in case something DOES need to happen. On the other hand, being caught totally unprepared is just a recipe for doing-it-without and that’s just downright wrong (not that would necessarily be the case that we would proceed anyways). Just listening to my god-sis about how her mom wouldn’t let them because it would make her “susceptible to having sex” made me want to face-palm myself. Having spoken to a lot of girls, very FEW of them ever say that using tampons makes them aroused/want to have sex, so it definitely doesn’t relate, tampons are hardly a sex-toy.

      To be honest, I always wanted a girlfriend who was a virgin when I was younger, but now as I’ve grown older – I’ve kinda thrown that expectation out-the-window. Would it be nice? Sure… is it a requirement anymore? No. As long as previously she’s had safe sex, I’m happy enough and that she’d not ridden with STD’s or has a couple of kids I don’t know about. Perhaps in a joking way, many guys refuse to date/have sex with virgins because they have no idea what the hell they’re doing, lol. Oddly enough, the paranoia with sex and virginity for guys and girls under Asian culture is immensely strong and just isn’t suited to this modern era anymore (nevertheless, that’s not condoning irresponsible sex).

      Thanks for your input!

  6. Nice comments. I agree that asian people have this thing against tampons. As a Chinese American, I was taught how to use pads only. All the women in my family also use pads. I was actually pretty hesitant to try them myself but I had to because of swim team. I love them now. They fell so much better than pads. At least I don’t have to feel the dripping and I can actually walk comfortably. The bad thing is that it is inconvenient for travelling to places where you don’t find bathrooms often.

    • Thanks for dropping by, a new reader and commenter, yay! 😀

      I think out of all my Asian girl-friends, this seems to be the case, that pads were the “default” option at home. I have a childhood friend who throughout her teen years, swore against tampons. She grew up in a more liberal family and her mother wasn’t against her daughter using tampons, but rather, my friend thought it was scary and gross (having to put something up/remove something bloody from her vagina).

      During her university years, I started noticing her closet stock changing. It slowly went from piles of pad packages to boxes of tampons. She had enough assortment like a candy dish, Tampax cardboard, Tampax pearl, no-names, all different absorbency, sheesh! It wasn’t until a year later that we casually came up to the conversation about menstruation and I sheepishly mentioned that, “I see your tastes in feminine hygiene has changed” where she said proudly that she did because it was more convenient and comfortable.

      Suffice to say, by that time, it was kind of a shame, because she had been an excellent swimmer and often represented her school team and she had quit shortly after she got her period as she did not use tampons back then. I remember seeing her throw out those “demo tampon” package she got from school sex-ed because she absolutely refused to use them and harhar, she’s now using them 😆 However, she has not quit using pads, using them when she’s at home, going to her parents house or overnight.

      Maybe I’m a bit more adventurous, but I think it’s quite possible to change tampon or pad anywhere that at least retains a bit of privacy, even if there are no washrooms when traveling. I hear from my road-trip girls that it’s pretty normal for them to change their supplies inside a moving vehicle so washrooms are only optional 😛 Just opt to leave an air-tight container or disposal bin in the car you’re in or with you, since menstrual odour is not emitted until the flow contacts with air. Used sanitary products which are contained in air-sealed environment will not stench up (or at least as fast).

  7. I find tampons with applicators a lot easier for beginners since there’s less to do by way of physically pushing up the tampon till its in place. Even now, to date I prefer tampons with applicators rather than ones without. Unfortunately, as in all South East Asian countries there isn’t much by way of choice except for the ubiquitous O.B (not my brand of choice for obv. reasons). We do get Helen Harper though and I make sure to stock up on Playtex Sports everytime I go to the States.

    Being in a Metro does have certain advantages, access to information = better decisions etc. Although, Can’t say I reflect the sentiments of the populace at large.
    Infact there’s a large % of people who possibly aren’t aware of its existence and when they do it’s pretty much the way you put it. Shock-horror-clashing value systems ultimately resulting in rejection.

    • Hi Anonymaus,

      Yes, I do agree that a lot of women start off using applicators because it seems less “dirty” and they don’t have to “touch themselves”. This is especially true for women of origin or culture who are more conservative about “interactions” with their own genitalia and such. I understand that inserting a tampon without an applicator can be a bit daunting and can be messy for first-time users. Part of the misconception though about applicator and non-applicator is that there must be contact with menstrual fluid upon insertion which is not true. After all, a lot of women see that when they withdraw their tampon applicator it is smeared with blood and afraid that it will get on their hands if they use applicator-less ones. The way that applicator-less ones are inserted is different and does not require contact with menstrual-fluid either. Suffice to say though, women who use tampons with or without applicators still should practice proper hygiene through washing their hands before and after insertion.

      Perhaps you are right about the lack of relation between knowledge and where one lives. I just thinking based on where people live “affects” their way-of-thinking or their perception towards choice of menstrual protection. A lot of the “city girls” I know use pads as well and a few “farm girls” I know use tampons, so it’s safe to say there’s always an “exception to the rule” (not that it’s really a rule anyways). For a lot of Asian women, having anything inserted in their vagina is a big no-no, but I think the idea of losing one’s virginity as a result of using tampons needs to be cleared up. Having penetrative sexual intercourse is a big difference than inserting a product meant to product panties from being stained!

      Both pads and tampons have their advantages and disadvantages. I just think that women need to be informed about all available products, so that they can make educated decisions based on their own comfort and needs. It’s unfair that people judge others based on their choices because it does not appear to be “what big girls do” and use tampons because that’s ridiculous.

      Thank you for your insight and contribution!

  8. hi my name is kofi and i am looking for tampons to by to ship over seas.i live in canada so if you can ciontact me for more information for how much 20ft will cost f.o.b abd how much is inside.

    • Hello Kofi,

      I’m not a distributor… you’ll have to contact J&J (Johnson and Johnson) for purchasing rights and access. If you’re just looking for small resales, you could just buy them in local stores since Canada stocks O.B. tampons almost anywhere – then resell them on eBay or whatever. Sometimes with good pairing of coupons and sales, you can stock up on boxes of these tampons and then ship them overseas for sales!

      Each box of tampons contain a different number of units, depending on the absorbency and line-of-product.

  9. After reading this: by Michelle Phan, I wondered why Asian mothers were against their daughters using tampons. This was very Informative. In fact I couldn’t believe a guy wrote this! The entire time I thought you were chick!I really enjoyed reading this, thanks

    • Probably has to do with a long-standing idea that tampons cause loss of virginity. Many of our ancestors passed on myths and worries to current and probably future generations. Many of these myths might be “harmless” and others, like demystifying tampon usage, can be slightly more devastating to Asian girls who WANT to use tampons but aren’t given the option by her parents. Suffice to say, if an Asian girl CHOOSES to use pads over tampons, that’s an equal choice as well. I think the best way is to have both presented, available and leave it up to the daughter to decide. Certainly if it’s a younger daughter, the mom or guardian should be able to give informative points on the pros and cons of using any type of product, rather than deeming one product “superior” to another.

      Another thing that comes to mind is just the conservativeness of the Asian culture, kind of like the absence of education when it comes to masturbation (particularly for females) and that the idea of sticking anything other than a penis for sexual reproduction to the older generation of females would just be appalling! Certainly, they would not want to “taint” their daughters mind like that to make it sound acceptable to push a wad of cotton up there. I know that in this day-in-age is makes us blind in confusion, but I also understand the “older mentality” which is the cause of grieve between mixing modern age society along with old-fashion thinking. Perhaps tampon usage is attributed to sexual promiscuity and encourages a girl to “touch there” more often and as a result, enjoy that sensation and seek “other” methods of satisfying arousal.

      Then again, the Asian culture isn’t the only one to pass on myths and such after all – because apparently masturbation will make your palms hairy 😛

  10. LOL. My mum is the exact opposite. Maybe it’s because she’s a doctor.

    I volunteer for planned parenthood, teach sex ed in my high school, carry around condoms all the time, and use tampons. My sister and my mum both use pads, and I do at night. (OCD about TSS. OCD about any medical condition. It happens when you’re closely related to a doctor.) But STILL. Like, my mum and I joke about sex all the time, however I had a friend who didn’t know the difference between guys and girls. And she was in middle school. She thought it was the difference between their HAIR.

    I love O.B. They’re extra eco friendly! I hate how they expand horizontally though, and ALOT. Horizontally expanding tampons plus a tiny virgin asian girl is not a good combo.
    I like how you can slip them into your bra though. 😉

    I definitely got introduced to O.B. in Taiwan, but I think they should definitely consider reshaping them. The regular is frickin’ massive. At least make a light! No wonder all the little asian girls don’t wanna use tamps.

    As a dude who wrote this article… RESPECT.

    • Thanks for your comment and I’m glad you enjoyed the article!

      It’s cool to hear about an Asian girl who actually has a mom who is supportive of her tampon use. I can’t believe the fact that when I gave my god-sis some tampons to try, her mom actually found them in her drawer and then took it away! It was like if I were giving her drugs or something. I can’t deny I like the pads in Asia because they’re so fancy and have so much variety and brands, but it’s almost like the tampons were taken away because the mother wanted to MAKE the choice for her daughter. While my god-sis might be young, if she’s old enough to have her period, she’s probably old enough to have a right to choose her own supplies.

      I think pads are even recommended by tampon instructions/manufacturers to help reduce the risk of TSS. I think the the OCD should not really be just for girls who have doctor relations, but for all women who if they truly want to use tampons, they should be fully aware of the advantages and risks. I know a girl from work who has used tampons for over 20 years of her life and when I mentioned something about TSS, she was like, “What is that?” and I was like, “Wait, you’ve never read the pamphlet?” – she answered she has, but also didn’t read any further than what it took for her to get the tampon in. I think something like that is quite dangerous to have lived in ignorance for so long. I know some hardcore tampon users use tampons 24/7 and they may argue, “Well, I’ve never gotten TSS and I always change them before 8 hours” – but I think the vagina needs some time to rest too with a wad of cotton stuffed up there for a week!

      I think the worst predicament right now in Asia is the fact people “kind of know” about sex, but not quite fully. They’re trying to be like the modern North America, open, easy and less old-fashion… but forgetting that the risk of “advancing” without proper education is terrible. In Asia, we also need to clarify the do’s and don’t do’s in relation to self-development and sex. It actually is ok to masturbate, it is ok to investigate your body and know how it works, it is ok to have a say in the feminine hygiene that’s used, etc. Once we demystify all that old fashion thinking, we can go on to tackle that “tampons don’t make you lose your virginity”, “tampons won’t turn your daughter into a slut”, “tampons when used with care are an effective feminine hygiene choice” – I think there’s a long way to go. Also, because Asians are all around the world, many people carry the myths and misunderstandings with them. The number of Asian girls who I know use pads I can’t even use my fingers and toes to count them all. The Asian girls who use tampons, I can count on one hand.

      From the sounds of it, do you live in Asia? If so, do you find that tampons are particularly expensive in comparison to pads? I suppose O.B. designed their tampons to expand so that way it stays “tight” against the vagina interior to prevent leaks through gaps between the tampon and inners, so ya, they’ll definitely push up against the vaginal wall. I guess some things just take “getting used to” and stuff, body-size irrelevant. Big girls can have tight vaginas too 😆 I always wonder if there’s “rightfulness” to compare virginity and tampons – as if tampons are any easier to get in after losing it. According to my poll at the side, it looks like many tampon-using girls started using them BEFORE they lost their virginity. I suppose one can always use a smaller absorbency one – but now that when you say how bad it is for a tiny virgin Asian girl – it makes me think about what happens if they try to get an ULTRA sized in, haha.

      When I was shopping in Hong Kong, I noticed O.B. did have the free tampon-case when you buy the larger pack. Those are cute and ya, I think O.B. tampons are awesome for size and discreetness. I can usually spot an applicator tampon in a girl’s purse, but can’t see it if she’s hiding an O.B. tampon due to the size. Also, throwing a small plastic wrapping away is a lot better than a full wrapper plus tube! I love the turquoise colour of the O.B. tampons though, they’re so soothing 😀 One time, the bra-trick almost did my friend in because it almost slipped out. I told her to try hiding it in her shoe instead, haha. Either way, I guess I haven’t been shamed about carrying around feminine hygiene before for my girls, so I guess I’d have no need to hide them anywhere. Sometimes if my girls are on their period and don’t bring a purse or bag, I’ll just put it in my pockets for them until they need it. I doubt anyone would assume that the pad or tampon sticking out from my pockets is for my use, HAHA!

      I have a fellow tampon-enthusiast who I know who has made her own tampons in Taiwan. I think they’re called KiraKira and they’re on sale in TW! I haven’t tested them myself since I’ve only been to TW once when I was younger, so I don’t know about the performance and comfort, but certainly give them a try if you think the O.B. ones are a bit too wide. I guess given that tampons have to conform to a lot of standards and regulations, they also have to do a certain absorbency for different amounts of flow defined by “grams” so there’s only so much they can do about size unless they build it with different material… and of course those extra expenditures you know who’s pockets that comes out from 😛

      I remember when I showed my ex-girlfriend a “super” absorbency tampon… I think that worried her a bit, LOL. Although she was not a virgin and the tampon is still smaller than a penis, something about the size of that tampon scared her, LOL!

      Hope you come back to read/comment often, thanks again for dropping by!!

  11. This is a very interesting article. As a Chinese girl who was born in America, raised in Hong Kong and attends an international school there, I think I can relate to most of the things here. My friends are mostly Chinese and they are mostly apprehensive about using tampons, but they can accept it under certain circumstances like for swimming and stuff.

    My mom is Chinese and she uses tampons in the first place, so when I asked her if I could she looked at me strangely, told me it might hurt a bit and bought me a box. After a first try where I couldn’t get it up I kind of gave up, but a couple of months later I forced myself to try again because I was doing work experience and it was just inconvenient using pads and going to the toilet every two hours. I have never regretted it since – it really is so much easier and convenient to use tampons and it feels so much cleaner. I do get a bit paranoid about TSS, but I think I can put up with the risk, and I switch back to pads when my flow gets lighter.

    Swimming-wise… well, before I used tampons I didn’t want to swim because there was a huge gap between the time I put on my swimsuit (pad-less) and the time I got into the pool. Evidently there was a huge potential for… well, let’s say messy situations. After I started tampons I still don’t swim at school because for us (hush) the period really is just an excuse for us not to swim cause it’s so terribly annoying haha.

    My friends are somewhat conservative about using tampons, but most keep some handy in case they really need to use them. I’m working at changing their opinions about tampons – wish me luck!

    • Thanks for your great insight into your life! I think your mom being a tampon-user has pretty much thrown the expectation of you being a pad-only girl out the window. I suppose in Hong Kong and particularly Taiwan/Japan, I can see a much bigger acceptance of tampon-use for situations like you mentioned, swimming or water activities. For general use, I’d still say it’s rare and that’s not based on any other statistic other than what I see on the shelf, 95% napkins, 5% tampons. In some Asian places like Malaysia though, because of a heavy influence of Islamic religion, tampons are even more “covered up” as an option for menstrual protection. Of all the Malaysian girls I know, they’re exclusively pad girls and not one have told me that they use or even have tried tampons. The apprehension has to do with a lot of the “I’m not putting THAT up there if I haven’t had a penis in me yet!” — even though we all know very well that tampons have nothing to do with virginity.

      I think your biggest influence for perhaps your mom and yourself is that you’ve grown up, or at least have had many years of “local” influence from being in America. Had you still been back home in Asia, I think there’d probably be a lesser chance you’d be a tampon-user or that she would have begun using them in the first place (unless she’s the rare populace). In regards to you having to change every two hours, I think putting pads and tampons on scale of absorbency, I don’t see why a pad would only last so little compared to a tampon, unless you have some crazy super-duper modified tampon that absorbs like crazy. I think a good rotation of pads and tampons will give your vagina some time to “freshen up” between tampon uses.

      It’s cute that you even attempted to get in the pool before the massacre happened dripping your way out from the change room, haha! I know a few of my Asian female friends actually dropped out of swimming as a result of that, particularly the ones who ventured far into swimming and decided to do their lifesaving accreditation.

      I agree having tampons as an option is always a smart thing. Though I’m a big fan of pads and that I encourage my girls to use pads or reusable products, even for my girlfriend I have left a few tampons at her house in case she ever decides to try or JUST because if she really really gets into a situation where a tampon may prove useful, i.e. water activities. If she doesn’t use it, that’s fine… I’ve only lost 50 cents, but it’ll be better than her scrambling to get some if she ever needs it and plus, who knows if one of her friends stay over and suddenly needs one!

      Just give the facts when it comes to tampon use and in the end, they will make at least an educated decision as for some may still feel that pads are right for them and that should be a totally valid choice!

      Hope this blog keeps you interested and that you’ll come back for future rounds!

  12. independebubble

    Pads feel make me feel like I’m wearing a diaper. ‘Nuff said. Tampons all the way. Though the very first tampon was a little traumatic, I’ll admit. Practice and understanding can get you over that super fast.

  13. independebubble

    It’s sad to hear so many confirmations of what I’ve suspected by now is true about SE Asia—no tampons. I finally broke down and stocked up at an overpriced, touristy supermarket, since I’m going to volunteer in northern Laos for a few months and I suspect there won’t be a tampon anywhere within a hundred kilometers.

  14. Hey,
    i really like your blog, it is such a refreshing point of view 😉
    but after reading this article, I have a question, that bothers me for quite a while by now.

    Would you say, that Asians (lets narrow it down to especially China, Taiwan, Japan) are more open to the topic of menstruation? At least, when it comes to talking about it?

    Because *takes a deep breath before explaining*: I observed for quite a while now, that in books, written by Americans or Europeans, if menstruation is ever mentioned (I’d say 1 in 500 books, the word occurs), it is always in a negative way, like the heroine has a bad day, and then suddenly her period kicks in, with pain and mess and of course a lack of nappies. yahoooo super taboo… BUT when reading manga/manhwa every 5th brings the topic up, and not only in a negative way. It is often the boyfrieds asking there, if the girl is all right, or if she is suffering from cramps or PMS etc.if they can do something about this… are the manga here an image coming from reality or are they just made up fiction in this point?

    Also from my few Taiwanese and Japanese friends, I have the feeling (but I’m not sure at all), that they are not so tongue tied as I (European) am…if they have cramps or whatever, they just say “I’m bleeding” or “I’m going to the toilet because my period started” or “sorry, but I have cramps now, do you have some pain killers” , things, I (European, tongue tied, ashamed) would never say, as long as it is not absolutely neccessary

    What is your experience?

    Thanks for your answer in advance!



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