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Tampon Shortage Signals End Times? 

Published January 5, 2011 at 5:50 p.m.

At 8:20 this morning, I received a frantic call from a reader. "I know it's early," she said," but I wanted to tell you there's an o.b tampon shortage." 

Wait. What?!

She went on. "First, I went to the Rite Aid. They didn't have them. Then I went to the Hannaford's, and they didn't have them. I went to four stores and none of them had any o.b.s. None of the shelves even had an empty space, like they were out of them. It looked like they just disappeared."

Holy. Shit.

So what did our menstruating friend do? "I was tired and hungry and bleeding, so I just bought something called 'Pearls' and went home." But she didn't want the Pearls, whatever they are; she wanted her o.b.s. She didn't want to have to stick any plastic stuff inside her, she said.

I can't say I blame her. I don't want any plastic stuff inside me, either. Nor do I want anything made of cardboard inserted into any orifices. If I was a loyal o.b. user, I'd probably be freaking out, too.

But why the dearth of tiny tampons in the area? Did o.b. just forget that anyone lived this far north? Was there a holiday rush on feminine products? Is the company just trying to ween us off tampons in preparation for the end times, when we'll have to go back to using balled-up rags or burying ourselves from the waist down?

No, no and no. According to o.b.'s Website, the shortage is a result of a "temporary supply interruption." And apparently they're "working hard" to bring supply in line with demand. Obviously not hard enough, if there are hard-working, tax-paying, patriotic American women bleeding in the streets.

But what does "temporary supply interruption" mean, anyway? Thankfully, the New York Times is here to do the heavy lifting for us. On the paper's health care business blog, Prescriptions, the Gray Lady takes o.b. to task about the shortage and other serious things, like toxic shock syndrome and FDA complaints about o.b.'s products. While they don't get any answers from the company regarding Cooter Plug Scarcity 2010/2011, at least they ask the questions.

The venerable ladyblog Jezebel also tackled this issue a few weeks back. According to them, women are taking to the streets in protest of the discontinuation of the popular plus-size Ultra tampons. And they're not too happy about having to switch brands after years of o.b. loyalty. 

So I guess now o.b. tampons are a hot commodity. I wouldn't be surprised if women are hoarding them. Hell, they're already going to $75 for a case of four boxes on Amazon. That's 63 cents per tampon — more than twice what they go for regularly.  

My advice to any women put out by the global o.b. shortage is maybe go local. Our very own Seventh Generation makes tampons sans applicators that, in addition to being chlorine-free, are made from organic cotton. So you can feel good about saving the earth while you bleed.   

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Lauren Ober

Lauren Ober

Lauren Ober was a Seven Days staff writer from 2009-2011.

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