Entries in Tampons (3)


Subscription Services Look to Automate Tampon Delivery to Women

HelloFlo | Juniper(NEW YORK) -- It's a routine women know all too well.  At that time of the month, it's off to the drugstore to buy a box of tampons, and perhaps some Advil or Midol as well.  The next month, the cycle repeats.

We order food, taxis, personal assistants, even Girl Scout Cookies using the web and mobile applications.  But why not even the most intimate of products, like tampons?

It's certainly an idea -- an idea that now a few women have had.  Three companies -- Juniper, HelloFlo, and LeParcel -- have set out to improve the tampon-buying experience with monthly subscription services.

"This entire experience is so last-century.  You go to the store, you buy your stuff and you come home and you run out," Lynn Tao, the founder of Juniper, told ABC News in an interview.  "You can pay $35 in San Francisco and find a start-up to do almost anything for you -- clean your house, get you a car.  Why not for something like this?  This should be automated too."

All three of the services work in a similar way.  You pick your tampon brand, tell the service when you get your period, enter your payment information and the tampons are delivered to your house five to six days before you begin your cycle.

But the services are certainly not identical.  Juniper was one of the first tampon subscription services to hit the Web, and it also happens to be the priciest.  Tao launched the site in October 2012 and began charging $28 a month.  You pick your preferred Tampon brand, go through the "calibration process," which requires you put in the start date of your period, and decide if you need some Midol or backup protection (panty liners, pads, etc.).

Tao says the premium price gives you a premium experience.  The packaging is nice and included with each set of tampons (you can request anywhere from 10 to 40 tampons) are a selection of teas and chocolates.  If you opt to include Midol or panty liners, they're all included in the $28 flat fee.  

While a box of 36 tampons usually costs $8.00, Tao says its service "provides a lot more value."  Each subscriber is also paired with a Juniper BFF, someone who helps customize the experience.

However, HelloFlo, which launched earlier this week, offers similar services for half the price.  Naama Bloom, the founder of the service, said it is all about convenience and making it fit into the way you are already talking about your period.

"I thought of how I think about my period and how do I talk about it," Bloom told ABC News in an interview.  "We focus on the one decision and that's whether you have a low, medium or heavy period."

There are three flow (or flo) options.  The $14-a-month deal is for those whose periods are on the lighter side and only last for 3 to 4 days.  Then there are the $16 Medium Flo and the $18 Heavy Flo packages.  The size and number of tampons included depend on your flow level.  When you select the plan, you input the day of your last period and the frequency of your period as well as your birth date.  Included with the package is a small treat.

And because three is never a crowd, there is Le Parcel, started by Megan Hollenback.  Le Parcel fits in between the other two.  For $15 a month, you get 30 tampons or pads or panty liners of your choice.  And yes, included in each Le Parcel package is a piece of chocolate and a small gift.

Women absolutely now have a choice of subscription tampon services, but the question is whether there is even a demand for this sort of service.

As of this writing, Le Parcel had 1,500 subscribers and Juniper 100 subscribers.  HelloFlo would not comment on its subscriber numbers.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


FDA Slaps J&J for Tampon, KY Trouble

Cristina Arias/Getty Images(SKILLMAN, N.J.) -- The beleaguered consumer product giant Johnson & Johnson has had its hand slapped again by the FDA, this time for problems with tampons and other popular personal care products.

In a warning letter released Wednesday, the FDA admonished J&J’s McNeil unit for failing to adequately follow up on a range of consumer complaints. The most serious of the complaints includes a report of a woman who suffered from toxic shock syndrome after using an O.B. tampon.

McNeil’s plant in Skillman, N.J., manufactures a variety of personal care products, including O.B. tampons, Carefree and Stayfree menstrual napkins, KY brand lubricant and moisturizing products, as well as Reach dental floss.

In the reported case of toxic shock syndrome, J&J waited more than a month before alerting the FDA. And in a separate incident, J&J failed to tell the FDA that a consumer had lost a tooth while using Reach floss.

But the latest and most extensive list of offenses involved KY Liquibeads Vaginal Moisturizer. J&J markets Liquibeads as an “ovule insert”  that contains a “premium quality silicone formula” that “dissolves within minutes, locking in your body’s natural moisture and keeping intimate skin hydrated while enhancing comfort.”

For 227 consumers, who complained to J&J between June 2010 and December 2011, the Liquibeads did not live up to those promises of “enhanced comfort” or “more enjoyable” intimacy. Yet the company filed away such complaints -- under headings like “does not dissolve,” “uncharacteristic consistency/texture and “does not perform as expected.” The complaints were not, the FDA said, “adequately evaluated or investigated.”

The agency’s warning letter also raised questions about whether Liquibeads should be on the market at all, given the manufacturer’s failure to prove that the moisturizer is compatible for use with latex condoms.

J&J has until early June to outline a plan to correct the problems.

“We take the issues raised by the FDA seriously,” McNeill PPC, Inc. said in a statement to ABC News. “We will respond fully to their concerns and take whatever steps are needed to resolve these issues.”

This chiding from the FDA is only the latest in a string of problems that has plagued J&J in recent years. In 2010, metal and wood particles were found in 13 million packages of Rolaids. In 2011, J&J’s Ethicon was sued by more than 100 women citing negligence and defective product design of the vaginal mesh, Gynecare Prolift. And in March, J&J recalled, yet again, thousands of bottles of Tylenol 8 Hour Extended Release Caplets.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Texas Blogger Finds ‘Moldy’ Tampon

Danielle Parr(SAGINAW, Texas) -- A Texas blogger has some women thinking twice about what’s inside their tampon applicators.

Danielle Parr of Saginaw, Texas, said she was shocked to see black spots on a tampon peeking out from its purple applicator.

“I pushed it out a little further, and I saw what looked like mold on it,” said Parr, a 23-year-old stay-at-home mom. “I immediately showed it to my husband, and his eyes got really big. He said, ‘It looks like mold to me.’”

Parr said the tampon came from a box of Kotex she bought at a grocery store three or four weeks earlier. The rest of the tampons in the 36-pack appeared to be normal.

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On Tuesday, Parr posted pictures of the tampon on her blog, which now has 304,100 views and counting. She also emailed pictures of the tampon to Kimberly-Clark, the makers of Kotex tampons, and said she got a swift apology, which she also posted on her blog:

“We understand how distressing it can be to find mold on a product that is used for personal hygiene and apologize for your concern. In instances where it has been found, we conducted tests on the product involved and have found the mold to be a common environmental species that carries no health risk. The vegetative mold is similar in nature to mold on vegetables or in baked goods.”

“I think that’s why this is getting such a huge response,” said Parr. “People are grossed out by what I found, but even more freaked out by the company’s response.”

Parr said she got a second response from Kimberly-Clark late Tuesday night apologizing for the original reply:

“Nothing is more important to us than consumer safety. Any discoloration or abnormality with our tampons is extremely rare, and we want to do a full investigation to determine the source and follow-up with our manufacturing facility. So if you still have the tampon, can you please return it to us by using the prepaid mailing envelope we’re sending you?”

Parr gave the tampon to ABC affiliate WFAA for independent testing.

Bob Brand, a spokesman for Kimberly-Clark, said the company is committed to consumer safety.

“We are committed to, and are taking all necessary steps to get to the bottom of this; including hiring an independent testing facility to conduct a thorough investigation of the product in question. Unfortunately our initial response to the consumer contained incorrect information and we are sorry for the mistake.  Any discoloration or abnormality with our tampons is extremely rare, and we believe this is an isolated incident.  We have reached out to the consumer and have apologized,” he said in a statement to ABC News.

In November, the company recalled roughly 1,400 cases of Kotex tampons that were “manufactured with a raw material contaminated with a bacterium, Enterobacter sakazakii, which may cause health risks, including vaginal infections, urinary tract infections (UTIs), pelvic inflammatory disease or infections that can be life-threatening,” according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The health risks of a moldy tampon are less clear, according to Dr. Kimberly Sauchak Gecsi, a gynecologist at UH Case Medical Center in Cleveland.

“It’s never been studied,” said Gecsi, adding that the vagina has defense mechanisms that can kill most pathogens. “It’s not necessarily harmful, but we really don’t know.”

Gecsi said women who are worried about what’s under their tampon applicators do have options.

“You can always use an applicator-free tampon,” she said.

Parr said she plans on using applicator-free tampons from now on, and not ones made by Kotex.

“It’s an image I can’t get out of my mind,” she said, adding that companies should make clear applicators so women know what they’re putting in their bodies.

But not everyone thinks the black spots on Parr’s tampon are mold.

“Am I the only person that thinks that ‘mold’ looks like Sharpie marker?” an anonymous commenter wrote on her blog.

“I am not a fly-by-night tampon decorator,” Parr replied. “I like Sharpies as much as the next guy, but I’m not gonna doodle on a tampon and pass it off as mold to get a few blog views.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio