About a month ago I was at a meatloaf-eating dinner party when the question of tampons was raised: plastic or cardboard? A rousing and drunken (and really long, right?) debate ensued that culminated in a visitation from a tampon ghost, a tampon piñata standoff and plastic applicator anthromorphism.
Because I am budget-conscious and environmentally aware, I fall on the side of cardboard. I have a tendency to purchase Walgreens brand tampons (or “Walpons”), but sometimes I will buy cardboard Tampax instead (if they are on sale, or if Walgreens is sold out of the multipack that I like).
The lovely Joolie is a fan of plastic Tampax tampons all the way (and I tried to link to them on the tampax site, but they are oddly unpictured. But I bought them, so they are still available. Are they being discontinued as the Pearl Tampon takes over the entire non-cardboard market? Strange.) So we challenged one another to a tampon-off: I would try the plastic applicators during my next period, and Joolie would make a go of the cardboard applicators. The following are my conclusions.
- Really quite a joy to insert.
- Plastic applicators are much better at withstanding the rigors of being stored in my bag and carried all over creation. I may make plastic my new “standby” tampon that gets to sit in my bag for months just waiting for an emergency use.
- I felt horrible every time I threw one of those perfect plastic missiles with accompanying shiny plastic wrapper away.
- A box of 36 plastic tampons cost $2 more than a box of 40 cardboard tampons at the HEB (both Tampax brands – you could save at least another $2 if you went to Walpons).
- Biodegradable (and flushable, if you need to, although I always feel like I will jam up the plumbing so I usually just throw them away). And here’s a little anecdote: when Dr. M and I were first dating, he lived in an apartment with his brother and those dudes had no garbage can in the bathroom. I guess they would just flush any trash they generated in there. Having flushable tampons allowed me to not have to carry my used tampon applicator and wrapper out into the living room to throw them away in the kitchen garbage. That probably saved our relationship right there.
- Cheaper (see above).
- Really just as comfortable to insert.
- Not as durable for carrying around in a bag.
Finally, some untried hypotheses:
The Pearl question – are these really that great? Their website says that they will provide “incredible comfort and extraordinary protection to help make you feel feminine, comfortable and vital every day of your period.” Vital? I don’t think I have a problem with that. Feminine? A tampon will not make me feel more or less feminine while I’m having my period. And their definition of a Pearl Girl is the weirdest bit of PR I have ever seen.
I feel that even though I can concede certain plastic applicator points, I can’t really justify the extra cost for some kind of super vagina pampering Pearl applicator. Plus those “upgrade” commercials bother me. Part of why I don’t like the plastic applicators is that they seem to be a gateway into caving in to the Pearl experience. A case in point: when I bought my test box of plastic Tampax, the HEB coupon generator spit out a $2 off coupon for discounted Pearl tampons. This is obviously a plot.
And finally: OBs? I have never tried these, and frankly, they kind of scare me. Although I admire those who are willing to insert without the aid of any applicator at all, I’m just not that comfortable crossing that boundary myself. It really seems just a step away from The Keeper, Glad Rags, or bleeding into a moss-covered glen as I commune with my womanhood. I toast those ladies that are comfortable rinsing their menstrual blood out in the sink at a bar, or wrapping up their used glad rag and putting it in their desk drawer to take home after work, but I am just not one of them.
Dear readers: do you have a tampon opinion? Please share it freely and show Joolie that I’m right and she is oh so wrong.