So my entry title is what I’ve heard from many of my girl’s who have taken my advice to switching or trying non-applicator tampons. Namely in Canada, I believe O.B. is the only “mainstream” brand that has tampons without applicators, although there are “side brands” – particularly organic manufacturers – who make non-applicator tampons. I’m sure people wonder where they get such an unusual name for a tampon manufacturer, but the letters O.B. is an acronym, “Ohne Binde“ German for, “without a pad” (or rough equivalent), so now that it makes sense, it’s a very fitting name. Of course being the menstrual enthusiast that I am, I am actually quite ashamed to say I took little note of this tampon brand until it was introduced to me by one of my ex’s – name withholding obviously.
A tampon is a tampon, however, just the minor difference (well, minor in my mind) between inserting a tampon WITH an applicator and WITHOUT an applicator has struck fear into even some of my elite-tampon using girls. I remember when even introducing O.B. to my god-sis, she blinked at me blankly when I told her that you just “use your fingers to push it up” – rather than pushing the bottom of the tube to feed the tampon up the vagina. She did try using them, but unfortunately, they were confiscated (yes seriously, by her mom) and she still said she preferred using an applicator because it removes the “ickiness” of possible contact of her fingers with her vagina or menstrual fluid. Honestly though, I would assume that following general hygiene that one would wash their hands before and after handling any feminine hygiene products (or obviously even after just going to pee/poop), so the idea that one may come in contact with their own vagina or menstrual flow makes my mind spin a little. In fact, good insertion techniques with a non-applicator tampon is probably more “clean” than having to withdraw a blood-smeared applicator and risk any strands of menstrual flow or clots from falling out during the applicator withdrawal.
It’s probably quite obvious that the environmental footprint for an applicator and non-applicator tampon is very different. Non-applicator tampons are generally sold in smaller boxes (physical size) and individually wrapped only using a film-type wrapper. Applicator tampons are usually individually wrapped with a plastic wrapper and also the cardboard or plastic applicator itself generates additional waste. While cardboard is indeed recyclable, you have to wonder, how many people really separate their tampon applicators from regular waste? I can say that out of all my girls or women I have ever talked to, they just ditch their cardboard applicators along with the regular garbage. Since the sizing for applicator tampons is larger (even the compact ones sold by other brands), the boxes they come in are also larger as well.
In my opinion, O.B. tampons are SUPER CUTE. Well, not that it matters from a usage perspective, but making a cool-looking tampon can have its appeals. Or wait… maybe it only appeals to us menstrual lovers, LOL! Also, don’t forget that an applicator can sometimes cause injuries. Because many tampons have flanged ends for the applicator tip, it can catch on skin causing some major owies. Also particular to women who are just learning to use tampons, stabbing themselves with the applicator DOES happen. With an O.B. tampon, because you are more attuned by a fine-motor skill (your fingers), you have full control of the direction and movement while inserting the tampon. Don’t forget that assuming you are practicing general hygiene, using your fingers to insert the tampon is a clean alternative to introducing a foreign object such as cardboard or plastic into the most intimate area of your body. Although I’ve had debates with women on whether it’s “faster” to insert using an applicator or without one, I for one must say that it’s a lot easier to insert a non-applicator tampon since it requires less “unpakaging”, “preparation” and “fiddle-time”.
For those who may be interested in switching or exploring the use of a non-applicator tampon (or if you’d just like to educate yourself), here’s one of those O.B. pamphlets that are included in every box of their tampons:
You can click the image for a better resolution pictures and to see the text better!