Feminine hygiene in China
Today I read an article about something that happened on Sunday: the Chinese swimming team ended up 4th and Fu Yuanhui (China’s newest internet sensation thanks to her funny reactions) mentioned that she had her period. The article is here. What is newsworthy is not that she was so open about it (and immediately after said it was not an excuse for her bad result), but that many Chinese people didn’t know it is possible to swim when you have your period. Several people asked on Weibo why there was no blood in the swimming pool then.
Also today I read another related news: China’s first tampon brand is going to be released this month. They should totally hire Fu Yuanhui for their commercials!
I already mentioned the state of feminine hygiene products in China in an old post about supermarkets. In big stores you can find a whole aisle filled with hundreds of brands of pads in every size and colour, but the only tampons will be o.b. Who needs a tampon when you can have a 40 centimetres long pad? Or when you can choose between cottony surface or mentholated pads? Based on my own experience, the 40 centimetres long pad feels like a diaper, but it is useful for sleeping. I hate the cottony surface, feels wet all the time. And the mentholated pads… think about the refreshing feeling in your mouth when you eat a mint candy. Now think about it down there. It’s too weird.
Last Saturday I went with C. to a team building activity organized by his company. I only watched, I didn’t participate. The activity consisted in a series of inflatable constructions inside a pool, and all the members of the team had to cross all of them to earn points. It looked fun. C. slipped and fell into the water 5 times. That was the funniest part :D
There were 2 women in C.’s team who didn’t participate… another member told us that “they could not get in the water”. Going to the beach or the swimming pool is not as common in China as it is in Spain, but it’s a shame that Chinese women basically don’t have a chance to choose what product to use for their period because of lack of information! Will this change after the Danbishuang tampon starts having a presence in supermarkets?
I have just returned to the UK from living in China (I’ll be teaching in Spain next btw, yay!) my girlfriend and I both noticed the lack of tampons in shops but there are soooo many pads! Have you actually tried that huge pad? Omg I think I am jealous right now.
Hahaha, I tried the 40 cm once but it’s too long, it almost goes over the underwear xD The 35 cm one is safe enough for sleeping on heavy days.
Have fun teaching in Spain! Which city?
Haha did you just try it because you couldn’t resist it?! Do you prefer tampons or pads? My girlfriend likes tampons but being a guy, I prefer to use pads! Talking of underwear, that’s another thing we noticed in China – it’s usually big, even young women seem to wear big underwear (no thongs). Cambrils, Catalonia.
Er… I have never before met a guy who had an opinion on pads and tampons xD
Sorry if it’s made you uncomfortable! Has it? :(
Hahaha, no, not at all. It’s just uncommon :P
Haha thanks, I like to wear them sometimes!
PS. So if there are any pad brands in Spain you could recommend, that’d be great! :P
Not many brands in Spain! There’s basically just two big ones (Evax and Ausonia, and I think they are from the same manufacturer) and then some supermarkets have their own brands too.
Spain doesn’t have the unlimited selection China offers? Well that’s a shame! Do you know if they have wings?
It will be interesting to see if the tampon takes off in China with the new brand coming up. I wonder how it will be marketed. Lol, they have very cute packaging for pads in China. Such a colourful wall in contrast to what we have in Australia :D
Agreed, so many colours!
Hahaha yes, many of the packagings are very colourful and even childish! Hello Kitty? Come on!
I agree, it would be super foolish of the new tampon company not to hire Fu Yuanhui as their spokeswoman! Maybe a new generation of Chinese women will break the pool/ tampon taboo.
Or maybe the new “period underwear” companies will break into the Chinese market, replacing the giant diaper.
I have heard about those period underwear! If they open an online shop in Taobao I think they might have a good chance of success!
I never imagined that something like the 40 cm pad could exist! Must be so uncomfortable! :O
It’s supposed to be a night-time pad, but I know girls who wear it also during the day because they think the “normal” size ones are too small. It totally feels like a diaper…
Oh those pads, I remember going first time to a Chinese supermaket and asked my wife what on earth this huge colourful wall of products were. Never imagined till then that tampons are pretty much just a niche product in China and many other Asian countries.
I think it will take still a long time (if at all) that those giant pads/ diapers will be ever replaced
I guess women feel “safer” with the extra protection, haha.
Hahaha muy buen post Marta! La verdad yo no pasé por estos problemas cuando estuve en China ya que no suelo usar tampón.. pero mi compañera de cuarto estaba desesperada y en vacaciones se fue a Suiza (su país) y se trajo muchos tampones para el segundo semestre XD
Tampoco nunca he probado la toalla higiénica de 40cms pero si las otras grandes, sirven tanto para prevenir desastres en la noche!
Opino que lo mejor son los envases tan cute kawaii y de personajes y cosas. Así hasta tener el período es divertido, aquí no hay diseños con monitos :( hahaha
Siii! Yo para dormir los dos-tres primeros días uso la de 35 cm, así no hay peligro de “derrames” jajaja. La de 40 es demasiado…
¿Probaste las de ABC mentoladas? Toda una experiencia… jajaja!
Nooo hahaha, no las conozco! Veré si las pruebo XDD
I’m so excited for China to get tampons!
I’ll keep checking the supermarkets to see if they really become gradually popular!
A lot of my expat friends in China used to beg me to bring back tampons for them since they were either hard to find or super expensive! I’m glad China is making tampons, but I hope that they’re comfortable and safe :/
I think not using tampons is an Asian thing in general. My mom never used them so I didn’t either, and when I talk to a lot of Asian American friends here in the states they also are not big on the tampon. But man, once I went tampon I never went back. They’re amazing! Chinese ppl are missin out!
I read the Chinese company that is going to start selling tampons posted a lot of certificates and documents on their website to prove their products are safe. It’s definitely a very sensitive product and any concerns for safety or the materials used could kill the (already minuscule) market for tampons here. (A couple of years ago there was a scandal with pads… it seems many brands were using toxic materials!!).
This post is hilarious! As a brit, I took tampons for granted, it didn’t even cross my mind that I wouldn’t be able to get them in China. Needless to say I received a big delivery in the post a few weeks later :D
The sheer stock of pads available in the shops is mind-boggling!
Before I came to China, a girl that had been here told me to bring my own tampons and pads. Tampons I can understand as they are hard to find, but pads… there are literally thousands of brands hahaha.
Why is it not common to see Chinese in pools and beaches? Is it because most of them cannot swim? Is it quite challenging to find a decent piece of swimwear in China?
Apart from the fact that many of them cannot swim, they are also not big fans of tanning. However, don’t imagine empty pools and beaches! Some can get very crowded, but the proportion of population going there is definitely lower than in Spain.
Mmm depends on what you consider decent. Swimwear here has a very particular style, with skirts, shorts, frills and a lot of cloth. I wrote a post about it once! https://martalivesinchina.wordpress.com/2015/04/06/chinese-swimwear/
Duuude, where did you find that monster pad?! That’s too funny. It will certainly be interesting to see if tampons catch on here. I had to explain to the lady what a tampon was – she was not impressed. I have a picture on my phone of the preferred pad brands in my household otherwise I get confused by the massive selection and end up buying the wrong pads (that look almost exactly the same).
I find the cutesy pads and napkins (AKA portable toilet paper) with Hello Kitty or whatever pretty funny. I almost always buy Hello Kitty toilet paper packets because then I can laugh while I’m getting everything in order.
And mentholated pads – beyond weird. Nothing like having your privates feel like a cough drop I guess….
Hahaha the monster pad is everywhere, man! Even small convenience stores have it. Look out for the dark blue packages :P The model in the picture was in a big supermarket though. Sometimes they exhibit new products so you can check them hahaha.
You are fine buying pads? You are a great husband! C. is always a bit embarrased when I make him buy them hahaha.
It used to be quite a sad state of affairs in India too… In the 90s I’d bring a years supply of OB! However now, no need to fill a suitcase with feminine hygiene products… pretty much whatever tickles your fancy is available around the corner.
That’s cool! I hope China catches on soon!
Wow! Would you look at that pad! The 40 cm pad is absolutely hilarious. I can imagine strolling down the aisle with that thing. Anyway, thanks for sharing, this was a great post!
It’s definitely long enough to cover the aisle, hahaha.
I hate tampons. Don’t do it China! They just give me cramps – and no wonder, you got all that abosorbing cotton up there. :P
Oh, I’m sorry to hear that Lani! They don’t give me cramps or anything. But the important thing is that you could make an informed decision to use them or not! Many Chinese didn’t even know tampons exist!
I would be very hesitant to use something made in China that goes up there anyhow….I mean, what kind of health regulations does China have?
They do have regulations (and in some cases even stricter than in Western countries), the problem is the way they are enforced xD I also think that manufacturer producing tampons in China is going to have a hard time because of the general mistrust in Chinese products.
I debated about whether to put this out there or not as I know people can be really squeamish when it comes to periods but I have found the AMWF community to be an open minded bunch and maybe my experience can help someone else, so here goes!
After more than a decade of using pads and tampons I stumbled across an article about menstrual cups. I have not bought pads or tampons since. I am not going to share brands/links here as this is not meant to be an ad I just wanted to share my experience in case it can help someone else.
It took a little bit of getting used to at the start but now I will never go back. I literally can’t feel the cup (which is made out of medical grade silicon and caries no risk of toxic shock) – unlike tampons and pads which I always found uncomfortable. You can sleep with it in, it’s one tiny thing to take travelling rather than boxes of pads or tampons. I wish I had known about this option sooner as it would have saved me a lot of hassle and money.
Well the post was about periods so your comment is definitely spot on haha. I have read good reviews about the menstrual cup but I haven’t tried it myself. I’m kind of worried about the insertion, as I am pretty dumb and it took me quite a while to start using tampons. However now I should be fine. I should get one and try!
It took me a long time to start using tampons too. Menstrual cups take a bit of practice to insert but now I find them much better than tampons. Good luck!
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