Tuesday, January 11, 2011

If my uterus had a face, it would be a frowny face.

Warning: I am about to talk about my period. And tampons. And other things used to deal with the flow of menstrual blood. And I possibly might even mention vaginas. And conspiracy theories about tampons and/or vaginas and/or Johnson & Johnson. If you don't want to read about these things, or if reading the phrase "menstrual blood" has alrea
dy made you uncomfortable, you should probably leave now.

So, I have mentioned before that I have horrible, horrible periods (I believe I've described them as "crotch massacres"). My whole reproductive tract is like a carnival freak show. Years of infertility, eight pound, bowling ball sized ovarian cysts, endometriosis all over the place, three incidences of biopsies because they thought I had cancer...It's just a mess up in there.

But really, the worst are my periods. Two days a month I can't even leave the house. I'm not exaggerating, I'm not being melodramatic. The bleeding is so heavy I cannot go anywhere or do anything other than sit as still as possible so as not to bleed all over everything. And then for five to seven days after that, it's still pretty bad, but at least I can function.

So I, and people like me, try to find ways to deal with it. And I had finally found something that worked. About eight years ago, OB started making Ultraplus absorbency tampons. These suckers were the highest absorbency tampon you could buy. They claimed to hold, like, a gallon of blood before they started leaking. And for the most part they did. Between those and enormous, overnight length incontinence pads, I was able to get through the two worst days a month with minimal spillage from my hemorrhaging lady bits.

But then they started to get hard to find. And in November when we were vacationing in Hillbilly Country and my uterus decided to ruin the trip, I searched numerous stores and pharmacies and couldn't find them anywhere. I couldn't find them when we got home, either.

Turns out that they discontinued that absorbency level. Forever. For a while there if you went to OB's website and clicked on the Ultraplus tampons, you got taken to a page that tells you to see a doctor because you probably have cancer and need a hysterectomy. Terrific.

And then last month I couldn't find any OB tampons of any absorbency level. Anywhere. I finally found some Superplus absorbency ones and bought several boxes.

I didn't think anything of it until last night. Tex mentioned on her blog that she couldn't find OB anywhere either, and she's several states away.

And that's when we both did a little Googling and discovered the Johnson & Johnson conspiracy. You see, apparently Johnson & Johnson, the maker of OB Tampons, hates vaginas. Babies? They love them. Vaginas? Not so much. That's the only reason I can come up with to explain the "supply interruption" they are blaming for the shortage. I mean really, they're cotton and string. Are we now out of cotton and string?

I know right about now some of you are wondering why I don't just buy a different brand and quit whining. I'll tell you why, and you'll probably be sorry you asked when I'm done.

The unique thing about OB is that they have no applicator. (If you don't know what a tampon applicator is you are probably either male or too young to be reading my blog). I have tried tampons with applicators and I cannot use them. They don't go where they're supposed to go. They fall out. I'm sure it's just another facet to my reproductive side show, but whatever the reason, I just can't use them.

Anyway, I posted my discovery of The Great OB Tampon Shortage of 2011 on Facebook this morning, which has resulted in an impromptu OB black market covering 2 continents and multiple states. Tex just spent her kids' college funds buying what her Rite-Aid had left in stock. So, if you need OBs, I have connections. Let me know. But it will cost you. (You think I'm kidding, but I'm not. Two boxes of the discontinued Ultraplus variety are going for $100 on Ebay, and that's just the starting bid. And someone will buy them. I watched two boxes go for $142.00 last night. Vaginas are serious business.)

Funnily, just recently I had three different friends e-mail me about Diva Menstrual Cups (as one told me, I'm the only one who talks about periods so maybe I could spread the word). I have avoided them because taking them out seems so...incredibly messy. But maybe Johnson & Johnson's hatred of our bleeding uteri is going to force me to give them a try.

(And for the record it's not just me who is in a panic over the lack of OB tampons. Read this.)


just call me jo said...

OK, I know you're young and all and it's probably none of my business but you started the personal discussion so here goes--Why no hysterectomy? I know it's not ideal, but your period doesn't sound ideal either. Isn't there that no periods pill or something? I feel the pain, distress and nausea just reading this.

Brandi said...

Oh, believe me, I have BEGGED for a hysterectomy. Doctors are very reluctant to do them on women under 40 without a very good reason, and apparently becoming anemic every month isn't a good enough reason. I could probably have uterine ablation done, I just haven't asked about it. I can't take most birth control pills because I have a history of very high blood pressure.

JZ randomfartings said...

The only tampon I was ever able to use was the only tampon to be recalled because of Toxic Shock Syndrome so I feel your pain. I finally got a hysterectomy two years ago and it literally changed my life! You just have to find a surgery-happy gyno. The guy that did mine even put my poor bladder in a sling and tightened up my pelvic floor muscles. And, shockingly, my anemia is gone.

just call me jo said...

By golly, Brandi, I think I'd investigate further and INSIST. It's your body (honest.) I haven't lived in UT but I'm Mormon too. Do you think the drs. there are reluctant because of the reproducing, populating the world thing? I say--"Let he who is willing to go through that misery every month be the first to cast the dang stone..." Or something like that. Can you cross the border to some ajoining sinful state like Idaho or Nevada? I really know your pain. I didn't have regular periods like this but I got that way later and just yanked that sucker out at 45 and never looked back. Good luck, friend.

Brandi said...

Jo, I'm in Tennessee, and I've been seeing Military doctors for 10 years (In Germany, Maryland and Georgia), so it's not that. I haven't asked my current doctor. He might be willing. But it would probably have to wait a year because getting overnight childcare while my husband is deployed is a great big hassle.

Kylene said...

Hysterectomies are kind of harsh, especially if the ovaries go too, then the hormone therapy is ridiculous. I recommend the oblation. It is awesome. The end. It might also help if you are having polyps (?) on the inside. I don't think that should happen anymore, but I'm spreading myths at this point.

Linds said...

That seriously sucks. I get insanely heavy (and painful periods). I like OB, a lot. They absorb way better then any other brand. I recently switched to playtex gentle glide [because I couldn't find the OB ones] which balloons out once it's out of its applicator and in your vagina. Minimal leakage. I get the supers because of my crazy flo. I don't know if those will work for you others out there, but just a suggestion. I like them anyhow.

Jane of Seagull Fountain said...

I'm sorry. I had painful periods in high school, and then when I got a depo shot before getting married, I was so mad my parents hadn't thought of letting me try birth control for that earlier (I blame them bec. my dad is a dr and .... well, I was a minor, and unaware).

I was lucky enough that after having my first kid cramps were mostly a thing of the past, and they got lighter too. But I'm getting an iud tomorrow and expecting my periods to go away again (like they did w/ depo), and I CANNOT WAIT. Even though I have to pay the 1000 bucks for the iud myself, it'll be cheaper than 10 tampons a day x 5-7 days a month x 5 years. At least that's what I told my husband. :P

Jane of Seagull Fountain said...

Oh, but if my period doesn't go away, Ima gonna try the ob if available. I hate the cardboard applicators, I like the strongly-deodorized, planet-destroying plastic ones. -- but I wonder if you could just take the applicator off the playtex kind and pretend it came that way?

Brandi said...

I'll have to take a regular tampon apart and see. OBs open at the bottom (think bell shaped). That REALLY makes a difference with leak protection.

Anna said...

I know what you mean about applicators. They suck. You really should try the diva cup. It can be messy sometimes, but no messier than a super-soaked tampon anyway. I totally love mine and haven't used tampons except in emergencies for years.

Sandra said...

As a Divacup user for 2 years now, I really have to recommend it. There is a certain squeamishness that you do have to conquer--but once I got over that I found that overall, it was a much cleaner experience than tampons and pads. I've actually reached a point where I don't mind the blood in the least, even when there is a lot of it. It's natural and a part of me, after all.

If you do decide to give a menstrual cup a try (there are other brands, too, like the Moon Cup, but I haven't tried them), then start out using it in the shower. It's a warm, comfortable environment, and if you get blood somewhere, you can just spray it away.

Lunapads.com said...

Hi Brandi,
Morgan here from Lunapads.com. We've been watching the OB tampon shortage story with great interest. I blogged about it here: http://www.lunapads.com/blog/2010/12/ob-drops-ball/
I think you should seriously consider the DivaCup. It has helped so many women with very heavy flow. It has a full ounce capacity, which is almost twice the capacity of an OB Ultra.
If you're worried about messy removal, you can always use it at home the first few times until you get the hang of it. Once you get over the learning curve it's really simple to use.
We're offering $5 off the DivaCup on our site right now with discount code OBWTF

Annora said...

Hun I get your pain. I had my period for 5 months straight in the 12th grade. I was taking Depo ever 6 weeks.

You seem like a reasonable woman who feels comfortable enough with herself and her online persona to talk about all of the things men and young women (who have yet to know better) find disgusting. Why aren't you willing to try absolutely anything that could be of help?
Go buy a Diva Cup A few dollars is better than a hysterectomy. It's not disgusting...Child birth is less natural than it is. You calling it gross sets us back 2 paces. I'm shocked I was even put on to your blog by an ethical hygiene product company.

I know dozens of women who have benefited from using diva cups. Hell the diva cup changed my life. Put you big girl panties and do something proactive and for your sanity and health.

april said...

I hate OB. I don't like touching the cotton part that's supposed to go into me. That said, I have like 4 at home which were a free sample from Lilith Fair. They're definitely not high absorbancy. I find I can't insert them and they actually fall out for me. Once they just landed in my underwear which totally grossed me out so much I wanted to throw the whole pair away. I almost three away the remainder, but it came with such a cute little carrying case that fit no other tampons than OB which sucks though don't know why I keep it all if I'm never going to use them anyway.

My friend tried the cup for awhile. She hospitalized with her heavy flow. She still has no concrete solution but her hormones are out of control (is experimenting with different solutions).

AZ Larsens said...

Try the Diva cup! It's not as bad as you think. If you're already bleeding all over the place then what's the worst that can happen? And I recommend taking it out in the shower until you get the hang of it. It can be messy.

I liked it a lot but...after I used it I read that you shouldn't use it if you have an IUD in place b/c it could move it. Now I'm paranoid it moved.

Sarah said...

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!! What am I gonna do without my OBs? Are they discontinuing all of them, or just the highest absorbancy ones? I thought it was just our Walmart that was being dumb, not keeping them stocked up enough. I had no idea it was a nationwide epidemic! Luckily I stockpiled some of the next highest absorbency ones once I couldn't find the highest kind, so I'm ok for a few more months. I'm NOT happy with J&J right now.

Brandi said...

Please clarify where I said that the Diva Cup is disgusting. I said that removing it sounds incredibly messy. That's all I said. Settle down.

texcommando said...

How do you know she even WEARS panties?

And it IS messy. And disgusting the first time or so that you remove it. I have used instead for almost a year, and I was grossed out the first time I took it out. I got over it. It's my blood from my body doing a natural process. I'm cool with it now because it's no big deal.

Don't say that one measly misunderstood statement sets women back blah blah blah. You aren't the women's spokeswoman.

monthly said...

HI Brandi,

go to www.mymonthlygift.com
We currently have Ob Tampons in stock.

We just recieved a small shipment of the OB super plus 40 count ones.

It's not listed on the site yet, so if you'd like to purchase them, email us at contact@mymonthlygift.com

Jared and Lydia said...

Wow, Brandi, I didn't realize how many pharmaceutical reps read your blog! I also didn't realize that the diva cup was the linchpin of the womens' movement! Now I do!

There's one other thing I know - Will better watch out, because if you keep talking about your raging blood flow and weird-ass lady bits, the men are going to be all over you like white on rice. Better watch out, Will!

SSG D said...


The only thing funnier than girl catfights is girl catfights over how best to keep Aunt Flo under wraps.

Cognitive Dissenter said...

I used to have insanely heavy periods. Made it very difficult to have a job. My dr. prescribed high doses of ibuprofen while on my period. It worked the first month and that was it. I also was not happy about taking a drug that was hard on my stomach. I did a little research and read that raspberry leaf tea could help. No significant studies or research, just purely anecdotal like most herbal "remedies" are.

I thought, What the heck? It can't hurt me.

I had fresh raspberry leaves and made my own. Mixed and shredded them with some fresh peppermint leaves, poured over boiling water, then steeped for about 10 minutes. I was shocked by the results. My heavy periods suddenly became manageable.

I no longer have access to fresh leaves so I use the store-bought stuff. Much less effective and fresh tasting but still seems to help a lot. My periods are also tons lighter if I cut most of the meat out of my diet.

Just my 2 cents. I'm going to buy one of those diva cups. They sound fabulous. Wish I'd had one years ago.

tippychelle said...

I hope your getting paid for your blog Brandi....enough at least to stock up on the last tampons around the web. It HILARIOUS!

I just had the ablation in Dec....it was 45 min out patient. Light spotting and cramping for a day. No periods yet. So far its been great. According to my doc the ablation works for 80%...the other 20% may have a light period. Completely covered by insurance. With your health issues I would think yours would be covered also.

My mom had hystero.... and now has sooo many problems with hormones and prolapsing colon and bladder....didnt want to go down that road. Love you Brandi!!!

Chapman Family said...

you DO need to live in Europe. I can't buy any WITH applicators! no fair


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