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Now It Stands For "Oh, Bollocks!"
December 31, 2010 10:35 AM   Subscribe

O.B. tampons - my personal favorite, as well as that of many, many menstru-ees - have mysteriously disappeared. Every OTHER tampon I've encountered has been inferior crap. HALP!

I've been using O.B. Ultras for the past seventeen years. That's longer than I've done ANYTHING, short of "breathe" and "metabolize Yoo Hoo into energy". However, O.B.s mysteriously disappeared from the market several months ago... at first just the Ultras/Supers, and more recently, ALL OF THEM. THIS IS HORRIBLE.

I liked O.B.s because they were well-made... they were tightly-woven, non-fluffy, expanded width-wise instead of lengthwise... they were just VERY CLEARLY engineered with a lot of thought in mind. All other tampons I've seen have seemed downright shoddy by comparison, and their performace has matched.

So what the hell do I use now? I have a box of "Regulars" which I have been - and I can't believe I'm about to write this - jury-rigging into DIY "Ultras"... but as the Regulars have disappeared from shelves as well, it's a stopgap measure (no pun intended).

I am NOT interested in pads. Nor am I interested in the Keeper or Diva Cup (I realize that many women love them; they're just not right for ME). I AM interested in reversing time and going back to the summer of '10, when O.B. Ultras were available far and wide throughout the land. But until time travel is invented... what the hell do I DO? Does anything come CLOSE to O.B.'s level of awesomeness?
posted by julthumbscrew to Health & Fitness (46 answers total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
 
I was still able to find them at Walgreen's recently, although they've disappeared from Kroger's and I didn't know it was a universal problem. I will go buy them all up and start hoarding today, I guess. - thanks for the link.

In the meantime, check places that they're usually way way overpriced, they may still be there.
posted by dilettante at 10:39 AM on December 31, 2010


They've been missing from my stores since November. Sob.

To answer your question: No, I've never found anything that comes close to being as good. You could look into taking Seasonale, which allows you to only have a period four times a year. I'm serious.
posted by something something at 10:41 AM on December 31, 2010


Oh no! This makes me so glad I switched to a cup. Applicator-free OBs have always been my tampon of choice.

However, I have used applicator-free Natracare tampons and found them a reasonable, if overpriced, substitute.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 10:44 AM on December 31, 2010 [8 favorites]


Hoard them if you find them. It's horrible. I have no idea why they discontinued them because they were the best. I am just finishing the end of my hoard, though. ROLL ON MENOPAUSE!

Apparently the Kotex U Super Plus are roughly equally absorbent, though it's so annoying to have to go back to the antiquated and environmentally wasteful applicator model.
posted by Sidhedevil at 10:44 AM on December 31, 2010


Oo, thanks, PhoBWanKenobi! I had never heard of Natracare, and definitely want some applicator-free tampons for purse use. Those are expensive, though--almost twice the price of OB!
posted by Sidhedevil at 10:46 AM on December 31, 2010


This is the first I've heard of the shortage, and it makes me glad that I tend to stock up on O.B.s when they're on sale. I wonder if Maxim Organic Non Applicator Tampon, Super Plus would be an acceptable subsitute? There is only one customer review on them at this store, but it is positive and from an O.B. user.
posted by vers at 10:46 AM on December 31, 2010


I am in the same boat as you, and I've been reading that Playtex Sport tampons expand width wise. There's a Jezebel article that quoted someone at Johnson and Johnson who said there's a temporary stop in production but that regular OB tampons should be back in 2011. But they have permanently discontinued the Ultra.
posted by blueskiesinside at 10:47 AM on December 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


I like Natracare tampons, which are mentioned briefly in your second link. I think, unfortunately, they only go up to Super Plus, not Ultra, and they're more expensive than OB, but you can order them online and they are very OB-like.
posted by redfoxtail at 10:47 AM on December 31, 2010


Also, click through and tell them you're boycotting Johnson and Johnson products; there's a link to a form at the bottom of this page.
posted by Sidhedevil at 10:54 AM on December 31, 2010


Here's the Jezebel article.
posted by peagood at 10:54 AM on December 31, 2010


...oops - I didn't see your link to it - but I meant to continue on to say that I know I've seen them around Toronto, somewhat recently, sometimes in little tiny groceries that don't move a lot of stock in that department. I know they're not in larger stores lately - but I'm going to be poking around the mom and pop stores and am wondering if others are too - or should I not bother?
posted by peagood at 10:57 AM on December 31, 2010


I was recently in Asia and they had these awesome OBs there, that I never saw around North America, that were very easy to insert and the nicest I've ever used (sorry, don't know the name). Maybe they discontinued because they will introduce something even better?
posted by TheGoodBlood at 11:09 AM on December 31, 2010


Oh guys! I recently bought these Natracare tampons in Amazon using their subscribe and save deal and they were cheaper than OB.
posted by two lights above the sea at 11:11 AM on December 31, 2010


The Jezebel comments suggest Kotex compact tampons as a replacement - apparently they expand in the same way. I've been using Kotex security tampons as a replacement. They have a plastic applicator, which I hate - so wasteful - but they do seem to be comfortable when inserted. The Kotex U - in the colorful packaging - is also fairly comfortable, but again with the plastic applicators. Maybe Kotex in general are better?

Tampax are the worst, IMO - they are too long for me or expand lengthwise or something.


Per the Jezebel article, the ultra are discontinued, and the rest of them will be back soon. I am very glad!
posted by insectosaurus at 11:14 AM on December 31, 2010


Back when I used tampons, I was strictly loyal to OB. It is a sad day for women. Unlike sponge worthy sexual partners, it's tough to determine which days of your period are OB worthy.

I have heard good things about sea sponge tampons, FWIW.

I'm not trying to be a cup evangelist, but just to bring up an option you may not know about, I stopped using tampons because I started using a diaphragm (the birth control device, the very same) as a menstrual cup. My primary reason for doing this was because you can have sex with it in without worrying about the sheets/having to do it in the shower. (This is why I didn't go for the Keeper or Diva Cup, because you can't have sex while using either of them.) This is also a very, very inexpensive way to go. I had tried Instead, and found it to be a half step above a medieval torture device, so I got fitted for a diaphragm thinking that sizing would make it more comfortable. And for me, the diaphragm is super comfortable, versus the Instead cup being painful.
posted by Leta at 11:47 AM on December 31, 2010


I am terrified of not having my beloved OB tampons. Because of that, I'm sending my boyfriend out on a mission as soon as he calls me back (I'm stuck at work and then we're going to a holiday party).

In the mean time, I want you to know that I checked out the OB website, which says they'll be back in stock soon. Having found a toll free number on their site I called it. Pressing 0 to speak to a human got me nothing, but by pressing 1, I got a list of places that stock ob tampons.

Since I'm at work and there are no customers right now, I investigated.

wal mart - not on the website, check stores for availability
target - website only has the pro comfort in stock
cvs - website only has the pro comfort in stock
kmart has the ultras in stock, but no other size
albertsons - website is not searchable. poo.
rite aid - 0 results for that search term
eckerd - eckerd is now rite aid
longs drugs - no results found for o.b. tampon (not for o.b. either)
walgreens.com has the option to check stock at a store near you - they have some near me!!!! But, none online.
kroger - no results matching your search
atv - I couldn't figure out how to find a website for this company. grrrr if there is one in your area, call them.
Meijer - unable to find any products.
stop and shop - sorry, no matches were found
duane reade - does not appear to be a searchable website
posted by bilabial at 11:56 AM on December 31, 2010 [3 favorites]


Well, if you can't find them at all anymore, even after exhausting the options given by bilabial, I would be happy to send you my meager ration of OB tampons. I loved the applicator ones but could never get the hang of the non-applicator version, so I have one multi-box (regular, super [I think], and ultra) hanging out in my closet. It's not much, but it's something. MeFi mail me if you want them.
posted by cooker girl at 12:12 PM on December 31, 2010


There are some O.B. Tampons still available on Amazon, but it looks like sellers are quickly running out.

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_sc_0_10?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=ob+tampons&x=0&y=0&sprefix=ob+tampons
posted by mmmbacon at 12:37 PM on December 31, 2010


I noticed the shortage about four months ago and started keeping my eye out for them. Drugstore.com and Amazon have had them to some extent but when I placed orders, some were canceled because they were out of stock and did not have an anticipated ship date. A few orders were fulfilled, but none for the variety pack with the super and ultra sizes. Sob. I have been buying them wherever I can find them, and agree with others to try smaller shops.

I tried to talk to the pharmacy department at my local Target about why they were out of stock and to request restocking them and was told, literally, "You have no voice in that - those decisions are made by the big guys behind doors. Those are million dollar contracts. They don't care what you want." Literally, those were his words. So that led me to think the absence was intentional. But this guy obviously had no ball in the game, so to speak.

I have used the Natracare but they don't seem as absorbent to me and they don't insert as easily, IMO.

There is a Facebook page set up on the issue, though it's called "Boycott OB Tampons/All Johnson & Johnson products"
posted by Yoshimi Battles at 12:38 PM on December 31, 2010


bilabial, Kmart doesn't have the ultras in stock (and didn't when I checked two hours ago). The page looks like an in-stock product, but there's a little message in red that says "Not in stock for shipping."
posted by Sidhedevil at 12:54 PM on December 31, 2010


julthumbscrew, I'm sorry for your loss - but I am glad I read this thread; I just went and bought 12 boxes of Ultras from my local drugstore. They still have the mixed packs - if you want some of those, let me know and I'll hook you up.
posted by deliriouscool at 1:20 PM on December 31, 2010


If you have your heart set on uninterrupted O.B. use, there are plenty available on eBay.
posted by kitty teeth at 1:39 PM on December 31, 2010


Some ideas in this blog post.
posted by MsKim at 1:50 PM on December 31, 2010


Just went back to Walgreen's and emptied out the display. Check chain drugstores in neighborhoods that are, um, more culturally conservative - I don't know how best to phrase that. That's where I found mine.
posted by dilettante at 2:02 PM on December 31, 2010


Yes, I'm in a neighborhood for work today where I doubt the ladies here are big fans of OB tampons. I know what you're saying, and my plan is to head right over to the walgreens and the cvs on the corner.

though I'm not tooooo worried, since I got my boyfriend to invest in 17 boxes of OB for me. He heard the desperation in my voice and cleaned out a few shops. Sadly, as far as I know he didn't find any ultras, but I nonetheless appreciate the heads up from this thread.
posted by bilabial at 2:09 PM on December 31, 2010


Aaaarrrrggghhh! Thanks for this posting. Another O.B. user here who ran out at a bad time and discovered that all the tampons in stock in the supermarket had enormous amounts of packaging and PLASTIC applicators. (And, yeah, O.B. is just a better tampon.) Extremely disappointed about the discontinuation of Ultra, though. Will go out and see what I can scrounge posthaste.
posted by tully_monster at 2:40 PM on December 31, 2010


If you take birth control pills, ask your doctor if you can skip periods by taking regular pills instead of placebo/no pills during your usual placebo week. At least until they get OB back into stores. I only bleed very lightly for about 2 days since I started on the pill, so I'm hoping my 1/3 box of OBs lasts until they get back on the shelves again.
posted by matildaben at 3:08 PM on December 31, 2010


Oh no! I've been using a Cup for awhile now, but still like to keep a box of OBs as a backup. I know I saw them last week at a pharmacy in Montreal (the regulars, not the ultras). I'll make sure to stock up, thanks for posting this!
posted by OLechat at 3:48 PM on December 31, 2010


I'm in Vancouver, Canada, and just went to the drug store (in a panic because I did not know they were not being stocked!) anyway, the shelves were full but the packaging has a "new silk touch cover" on the corner.
posted by sadtomato at 6:09 PM on December 31, 2010


Intriguingly enough the UK equivalent, Lil-lets, has a note on their online shop saying 'Unfortunately, at this time we are unable to offer Lil-lets feminine hygiene products to our consumers in the United States & Canada. If you would like us to contact you when we are able to resume this service, please click here.' Is there some legal nonsense going on? Is Tampax worried that too many people are using the sensible widthways expanding version? Are the FDA concerned about people not using enough plastic to insert their tampons?

But yeah, if you end up really desperate and know someone in the UK/Ireland/South Africa, get them to smuggle you some lil-lets.
posted by Lebannen at 6:32 PM on December 31, 2010


Sorry if this is way off-base as I've never tried OB tampons, but out of all the tampons I have tried, the only one I've ever wanted to use again is the Playtex Gentle Glide. It's got a plastic applicator, which I understand is a negative, but it is very comfortable and might work as a temporary solution?
posted by wondermouse at 8:00 PM on December 31, 2010


I like Playtex Sport as well. I think they expand width-wise instead of length-wise, and are the most comfortable for me (I'm pretty "short" down there). They have a flower shape instead of a flag shape that other tampons have. But they do have the plastic applicator.

The NY Times says o.b. should be coming back this year (with the interruption due to manufacturing problems, possibly related to problems Johnson & Johnson has had company-wide), although, strangely, their follow up questions were not answered.
posted by bluefly at 3:38 AM on January 1, 2011


Seriously the only tampons in the USA without applicators!? That's so bizarre I can't even begin to fathom it. Here in Australia ALL tampons are without applicators--seriously, if you're that hard up for them you can just get some Australian friend to go buy a local brand for you and send them on over.

The only applicator tampon we have are Tampax, and, having worked in a supermarket for years, they don't sell very well. Probably only to visiting Americans! I always looked at them and wondered how anyone would buy them, and the oddity of women being squeamish about their innards enough that they'd buy something so wasteful.

Well, now I know there's an entire country!
posted by owlrigh at 8:33 AM on January 1, 2011


owlrigh -- it's not always squeamishness, but partly due to just what people are used to using from when they first started menstruating. Similar to how your shelves mostly have non-applicator tampons and so that's what people generally use, our shelves have mostly applicator ones, and that influences choice.

This whole fiasco really shows that there should be at least some other manufacturer in this market. If I were a competitor from another country I would be checking that out asap. :D
posted by bizzyb at 11:28 AM on January 1, 2011


bizzyb, you are spot on the money. The thing is, as well, our top selling tampons are Libra, owned by SCA (Swedish) and Carefree, the latter of which is owned by Johnson & Johnson (USA). Other brands coming to prominence are U (Kotex Australia, a division of Kimberley-Clark, USA), Dejour (Australia), Cottons (Germany), and Moxie (Australia).

Two of the top brands of tampons are owned by US companies! They should get their act together and start selling them within the USA. And maybe push them at younglings of school age.

When I was in high school, they had free tampon packs for girls who started. My school had Libra, which was pretty much why I used them for years--when you need to go buy some and you've already used a particular sort and you don't want to be standing in front of all the tampons because OMG you've just started menstruating! You just grab the first one you recognise, and so BANG. Product loyalty from a few free samples to teenage girls.

Oops, diverting away from what the OP was asking! Sorry. If you really run out, PharmacyOnline ship overseas.
posted by owlrigh at 4:31 PM on January 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


Thank you, thank you, thank you, lovely Mefites... especially those of you who MeMail'd me with generous offers to hook me up from your own private 'pon stash!

I think I'll be exploring overseas options... it's also occurred to me that it might be possible to, um, "roll my own"... although sterility issues do concern me there.

It's rather amazing how evasive and obtuse the manufacturer is being, considering how many women are FREAKING THE HELL OUT... I'm really curious what happened, not to mention royally ticked off. Although if they DID bring them back to market, I'm embarrassed to say I'd gladly go out and buy an armful.
posted by julthumbscrew at 6:47 PM on January 1, 2011


Are ultras the same as super plus? I'm sitting here in an asian market looking at a row of on super plus.... Will buy and send if they are the right ones!!
posted by tristeza at 3:11 PM on January 2, 2011


Well, I picked up 2 boxes of OB Regular and 2 boxes of OB Super Plus and will send to anyone if you want them. MeMail me!
posted by tristeza at 5:30 PM on January 2, 2011


I just ran across this, suggesting that Johnson & Johnson is getting their act together. You Ultra fans are still SOL, though.
posted by workerant at 12:04 PM on January 20, 2011


I found regulars at Target today. (That's the Northgate Target in Seattle, for menstruating Mefites in the area.)
posted by The corpse in the library at 6:06 PM on January 20, 2011


I also found regulars in Seattle at Viet-Wah - I have two boxes for anyone who wants them. :)

I sent 6 boxes of Ultras to julthumbscrew in what can only be described as a Metafilter first (for me, at least).
posted by tristeza at 7:46 PM on January 20, 2011


I would like to give a big "I love the Internet, but ESPECIALLY MeFi" shout-out to all of the wonderful women who offered to hook me up with O.B.s - and to the amazing Tristeza, who actually DID! You guys rock harder than Skynyrd crossed with lab-created diamonds. And now for the good news: O.B.s are COMING BACK!
posted by julthumbscrew at 11:20 AM on January 25, 2011


Update on the blue.
posted by gingerbeer at 11:03 AM on January 27, 2011


Drugstore.com just sent a notice out that all sizes of O.B.s are back in stock; I assume this means that they are now available in other stores now as well.
posted by vers at 5:01 AM on February 5, 2011


I picked up 6 boxes of Super Plus today at Target. Yay!
posted by Yoshimi Battles at 12:03 PM on February 5, 2011


Now I'm wondering how many other Me(nstruating)Fites are going to start hoarding those little suckers, as I intend to do... it's ridiculous how traumatizing the loss of a personal hygiene product was!
posted by julthumbscrew at 12:06 PM on February 5, 2011


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