Saturday, May 11, 2013

What's the Connection?

The following blog post discusses menstruation and the associated supplies. Male readers may want stop reading this particular post right now. Female readers who may be uncomfortable with this conversation may to stop reading here as well.

Up until the last year or so I hadn't had to buy tampons, pads, or liners for close to five years.  When I was diagnosed with endometriosis, I went on a continuous dose birth control pill to help prevent any recurrences and minimize any menses related pain.  One day out of every three months, I would wear a liner.  That was it.  One day, barely any flow to speak of.  At that rate, the box of 60 liners lasts a very, very long time.

In the last year I have changed my regimen and my menstrual cycle has returned to its pre-pill levels.  Eventually, I was forced to head off to Target to buy the necessary supplies. For the last four or five years I haven't:

  • had a period of any note
  • watched broadcast or cable television with any regularity
  • read any print magazines
  • surfed the web without using an ad blocker
In other words, I have been completely oblivious to 99.99% of commercials related to feminine hygiene products.

"What's the big deal?" you might ask.  Fair enough.  But things change over the years.  Advertising helps make people aware of the changes.  Me, I was unaware of the change.

I was able to find the tampons I like without any issue.  Conveniently, there were liners right next to them. But  I could not find the pads. Where were they? There I am, in the tampon aisle at Target, starting to mutter audibly, wondering "Have pads left the market? Is everything super thin now? Okay, well, then, I want long ones. With wings? No wings? Really, what's the benefit of wings? I think I used to like wings, but why? Ok, I want unscented ones.  Why in the world must it be so difficult to find unscented products? And really, nothing on these packages is giving me any confidence that they have any absorbing power whatsoever. WHERE.ARE.THE.PILLOW.PADS!!"  Sorry folks, I am the crazy lady who talks herself through at least a quarter of all buying decisions.

In a fit of frustration and embarrassment at having to spend way too much time in the feminine care aisle I decided I would just give up and stop someplace else.  I turned around, face-to-face with the adult undergarments. Located conveniently next to the pads for which I had been looking.


Except not.

For most women, I would think that buying their monthly supplies is no different than buying milk or shampoo or dishwasher detergent.  Go to the designated aisle, look for the familiar packaging, grab, and go.  It's one of those completely automatic purchases. In general one does not comparison shop for these items. She has bought the same thing every month for years on end.  There are, I suppose, changes in packaging, changes in style, but the changes are subtle enough (usually) that they don't even register. But when one hasn't had to buy pads for years, the cumulative effect of those changes is devastating.

It used to be that one would  buy her pad based on the intended use - light, regular, heavy, overnight.  Easy, yeah? Through in some wings, some lengths, maybe some fragrance and that was it. And there were convenient little droplet icons so you knew the absorbency at a glance.

Apparently, now one buys her pads based on the type of BRA she intends to wear with it.

Wait. What did I miss, was there a major ad campaign telling the frilly bra-ed ladies incredible the thinness is and telling the plain ol' broads how much extra protection they can have? How does my bra, you know, that undergarment that helps protect the boobies, have anything to do with the fluid exiting my body from between my legs? Admittedly, my breasts get a bit tender around that time of the month, but that doesn't really affect my below the waist choices. And really, the option on the far right? So, droopy boobs, even in a sports bra, need special odor protection.  WHAT THE HECK?

Regardless, I was find something to fulfill my needs, but really, where are the droplets and the special blue water?