February 2, 2011

Les Ennuis Des Femmes (Women's Troubles)

When I studied abroad in Paris for Fall ’07, I was warned that in France the tampons do not have applicators. Being afraid of sticking an uncomfortably dry tampon up my vagina with no aid of a nice plastic casing, I brought along my own 4-month supply of American tampons.

Then the inevitable happened. I don’t know if Shark Week came early, or I just forgot to put tampons in my bag, but suddenly I was caught in a situation I was not prepared for. I was out with some friends when I realized I needed a tampon, and STAT.

We took a detour to the nearest MonoPrix (a grocery store) and found the appropriate rayon (aisle). This was my first time in this rayon in France, and to my surprise I found tampons with applicators! I bought the tiniest box of generic MonoPrix brand tampons available, and while they were far from ideal, I made an important discovery: Tampons with applicators existed in France!

When I moved out here in Fall ’09, I decided to leave my trusty American tampons at home and use that valuable suitcase space for shoes instead. If applicator tampons existed in generic brands, clearly the France-doesn’t-have-applicators rumor was a lie, and I’d be able to find usable tampons in Lille.

I now regret this decision. Back in the states, I use Playtex Gentle Glide tampons. They fit me perfectly! The applicator is plastic and it goes in smooth. The size is the perfect size for my vagina. Everything is wonderful in tamponland.

Unfortunately, this brand does not exist in France, and so far none of the French brands have been up to snuff. They are either too big, or I have trouble with the applicator. I still use these French brands, but am I totally comfortable down there? No sir. That “time of the month” is uncomfortable enough as it is even with the perfect tampon! Oh Playtex Gentle Glide, how I miss thee!

Although a lot of me has adapted and become more French as time passes, my vagina remains stubbornly American.


  1. Ok Laura -- first of all, I'm loving this blog, and living vicariously in Lille through you :). Second -- I recommend you try something that I was quite a bit hesitant about but I now know was a WONDERFUL decision which is to switch from tampons to a menstrual cup (I use the Diva Cup, which should be available online, or at Whole Foods when you're in the US). I originally tried it because I'd heard good things and I hated all the waste that I was producing with my disposable tampons. I was a bit scared to get all hands-on down there during that time of the month, but in the end it was no big deal. The cup is SUPER comfortable (don't feel anything at all) and can hold a ton -- this was a big plus for me because I was always having to change tampons with next-to-nothing on them, just because the 6 hrs or whatever was up and I didn't want to get toxic shock or something. So it's great if your light, and if you're heavy it can hold a lot so you'll still be covered. You can leave them in for 12 hours so I just take it out/clean it once when i wake up and once when I go to bed. Very low-maintenance, and like a said comfortable and good for the earth, because you reuse it (which, again can seem gross but really is not). They can seem a bit expensive but it actually works out because you'll never have to buy tampons again.

    Ok now that's MY rant talking about my vagina haha. Again love the blog, miss you and glad it sounds like you're having the time of your life!

  2. Hey Kayla!

    Thanks for reading my blog! I'm glad you like it so much :)

    As far as the menstrual cup goes, I've thought about trying it a few times but haven't yet bought one. I'm a little bit hesitant about it for basically all the reasons you've listed! Haha. But I do agree about feeling bad due to all the unnecessary waste tampons and pads cause. I'm not sure if the cup exists in France, but I'll have to check it out! Thanks for the recommendation.

    I miss you too my French buddy! I keep referring to you as my "French friend" since we were in all those French classes together, but then I confuse people as you're not actually French, haha.


  3. hello! I admit, I have been reading your entertaining blog for a long time, but this is my first comment!

    I live in Paris with my (French) husband, and I too suffer from tampon woes! I use the same brand you do (what a coincidence!) Playtex, how I love thee! I missed them, so my dear mother went to costco and bought a pack of 180 of them and mailed them! After two years, I am just now running out :)

    Just wanted to say I feel your pain (or uncomfortabless) :) You're not the only one!

  4. Have you tried Tampax? They have plastic applicators, come in different sizes and are available here in France. Give them a try and hopefully they're OK for you :-)

  5. Katie: Hello! I'm glad you're enjoying my blog! I love to get feedback from my readers :)
    After my parents read this post they offered to ship me a box of playtex tampons, but I'm stubbornly determined to find a French brand that works for me! Although having a giant costco sized box mailed to me does sound tempting, haha.
    How long have you been in Paris?

    Sara Louise: Thanks for the suggestion!
    I almost wrote about Tampax in my post, but thought it might be TMI. I have tried them ( I was drawn to brands I recognized before the French ones), but I find that they are just too long and too flat for me! I bought some the other day in legere anyway, but there're just not as good.

  6. In Korea the plumbing is so bad that you have to throw away tampons in the trash. I refuse to do that. It's disgusting. But after my friend had her plumbing completely blocked up and had her pipes dismantled and the offending products brought out, I was afraid of the toilets. So, I had to switch to pads as the least disgusting of the alternatives. It's very upsetting.

  7. hello! I've lived here for 3 years now, which, I'd like to add it's not long enough to pronounce grenouille correctly. Also sometimes if i don't concentrate really hard, chatouiller confuses out a jumbled mess :). i think it's the double vowels.

    I was reading your post, laughed out loud and made my husband read it. I think he now thinks that I'm less weird for having so many tampons in the bathroom. Hopefully.. maybe. So thanks for the help ;)

    Have a good weekend!

  8. Becky: I'm pretty sure they told us to throw away our tampons when we were studying abroad in Paris too?? Oh places other than America with their bad plumbing... I'm sorry you're stuck with pads! I feel like I cramp more when I use pads :( Good luck!

    Kaite: I definitely still have some pronunciation problems, but the important thing is that we're always trying. And that they make good blog posts, haha. As for the tampons, glad to be of service! Bon dimanche!


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