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how do we get tampon makers to acknowledge vaginismus ?
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 03, 2007 3:11 pm    Post subject: how do we get tampon makers to acknowledge vaginismus ?  Reply with quote

A German activist and I were discussing how tampon producers could have a unique chance to help prevent vaginismus by putting very clear information about it in their leaflet, and yet they do not take this chance and they seem unaware that vaginismus even exists since no company mentions it.

Yet they must know that one of the reasons some women are not buying their products is because it hurts them to wear tampons or because they simply find it impossible to insert them to begin with. So why the silence ?

It's quite obvious that they probably fear scaring even more women off, by talking about vaginismus. They HAVE TO talk about the Toxic Shock Syndrome tampons only because law compels them, otherwise I guess they would gladly be quiet about that too.

I doubt a law will ever compel them to write something about vaginismus and yet we believe that if they talked about it briefly and gently, saying there is a treatment for this and that it is not a rare condition that women may think are freak for having, it could help a LOT of young girls prevent vaginismus or at least prevent the stress linked with having to understand something that everybody pretends nobody has.

So my question is: how do we reach those companies and make them see how important it is for them to mention the word vaginismus somewhere in their leaflets?

This German woman together with some friends was thinking of preparing a letter to send them, I haven't heard from them in a long time but I hope they will soon let us know how things developed there, but in the meantime:

1. how do you think we could address tampon makers

or

2. what would you have liked to have seen written in tampon leaflets ?

thanks
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spike_train



Joined: 28 Apr 2007
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Location: Cambridge, MA

PostPosted: Mon Jun 04, 2007 6:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

They may legitimately not know. There's a common (and not entirely unreasonable, just not always true) assumption with tampons that if you're having trouble putting one in, it's because you don't know that area of your body well enough and don't have enough practice, and might be trying to insert it at a bad angle or something.

Letters seem like a good step.
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BrevisMus



Joined: 22 May 2007
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Location: UK

PostPosted: Tue Jun 05, 2007 9:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I agree with Spike - if lots of *gynecologists* don't know about vag., then I wouldn't expect tampon makers to! I'm sure they do polls and studies as to why women aren't using their product, but I would imagine that they just have one option for 'it hurts me', and that would include vag. women, women with hymens, and women who are uncomfortable with tampons in general.

Also, I'm not sure how it would actually *prevent* vaginismus? I would have thought that saying 'if you cannot insert this tampon you might have a condition wherein your vaginal muscles clamp involuntarily but don't worry there's treatment' would make more people think they have vaginismus, rather than actually prevent it.

I think it's a good idea to contact tampon makers and see what they think, and I think it will be a really good way to raise awareness, I'm just unsure as to why it would *prevent* vag.

That being said, I do wonder how feasible it would be. I think tampon makers would be more likely to have information about it in the packs if they also made dilators - that way they'd have a financial reason for doing so Wink

TSS is mentioned not just because of legal reasons, but because wearing a tampon can actually kill you. There is direct cause and effect here.

Vag. is not only not life-threatening, but is also not - in most cases - directly caused by tampons. You could argue that if they include information on vag., why not VV? There must be women who can't use tampons due to that. Or why not mention the signs to look out for for cervical cancer? etc. etc.

However, while I'm not sure about printing information on the packs (although as usual - willing to be proved wrong Wink ) most tampon makers have websites, and it would be really good if they could mention vaginismus on their websites.
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Mercy



Joined: 05 Apr 2007
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 07, 2007 5:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think the goal is not to prevent vag, but to help people with vag to know what's going on and that they can treat it. It might prevent some people from spending years wondering what's wrong down there.

It's an interesting idea to write tampon makers. I wonder if they will be receptive.
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BrevisMus



Joined: 22 May 2007
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 10, 2007 9:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mercy, I was talking about the feasibility of 'prevention' as that was the word used in the first post.

I've been thinking about this idea today, and wonder if I put together a little campaign to email tampon manufacturers would people a) be interested and b) act on it? I'm thinking that we could 'adopt' a company each and send them a letter or an email.

Thoughts?
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 10, 2007 10:15 pm    Post subject: on prevention and tampon makers Reply with quote

I think it would be a great idea Brev !

I will put you in touch with the German girl who was already planning to do something similar with some of her friends.

Just give me a few days cause I'm very busy with work but I'm glad you thought about this..

PS As for the "prevention" misunderstanding, what I meant was preventing the suffering that comes from having vaginismus and not knowing what it is, that it's curable, that many women have it etc etc..
So those companies have the power to prevent a lot of emotional suffering related to vaginismus. That's what I meant.

And maybe if girls knew that some girls have problems with pain inserting tampons, they would not start wondering and get defensive about first time sex too then, as many did. So in a way these companies could actually prevent vaginismus indeed, because vaginismus can be situational. A girl may start thinking something is wrong when she feels pain at inserting a tampon and if her fears are not reassured, as we know it is very likely she can then translate those fears into fear of first time sex too and get tense when that happens and so on and so forth..

hope it's clearer..

anyway, i'll give you that info. privately soon..
Thanks for beng active about such issues Smile
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Katherine the Shrew



Joined: 12 Jun 2007
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Location: Germany

PostPosted: Wed Jun 13, 2007 5:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hello,

I havenít posted anything in this forum yet and I have to admit that up till today I havenít even read here, although I know and very much appreciate the vaginismus awareness website! Lily contacted me these days because of the project with the tampon companies. Iím the ďGerman activistĒ and my name is Katrin. Let me say a few words to your discussion:

> It's quite obvious that they probably fear scaring even more women off, by talking about vaginismus.

I donít think itís because they donít want to scare women off, but because they donít know about vag in the first place. Also, problems with tampons donít always ďcountĒ as vag, but only not being able to have intercourse.

> Also, I'm not sure how it would actually *prevent* vaginismus?

I agree with Lilyís latter statement. Trouble with tampons (also if itís only because you are not familiar wit the anatomy or are afraid) can lead to further problems. My own problems started with tampons, and went on with gynaecological exams. If in my early teens I had had all the infos I have now (that Iím 32), the gynaecological exams wouldnít have had to be so painful, Iím sure. The first experience of pain with insertion can lead to clamping up and the vicious circle begins. Early intervention could prevent a lot of trouble, Iím sure.

> So my question is: how do we reach those companies and make them see how important it is for them to mention the word vaginismus somewhere in their leaflets?
1. how do you think we could address tampon makers
or
2. what would you have liked to have seen written in tampon leaflets ?

I think that a letter would be better than an e-mail. It can be signed properly, you cannot click it away easily and you can add information. I also think that it is not done with only one letter or e-mail. We would probably have to be very persistent about the issue. Perhaps we could also do a collection of signatures? Or many women send the same letter with their own signature?
What do you think about not only contacting the companies in one country, but in several? O.b. for example is international I think, anyway. We could translate the letter into several languages and spread them over the self help groups. Also I think it is important to contact all the companies at the same time.
Well, one girl from our group said she would make a draft for such a letter, but unfortunately I havenít heard from her quite a while. (I myself am busy with another project: We want to found a vag-charity.) So, if someone from you is already collecting ideas or would write something, that would be great. I think, a good argument would be, that they could even sell more of their product, when women know about their vag and can do something about it.

Well, good-bye for today,
Katrin
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BrevisMus



Joined: 22 May 2007
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Location: UK

PostPosted: Wed Jun 13, 2007 10:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Katrin,

That's a really interesting post. I'm very interested in what you say about starting up a vag charity Smile

I'm just thinking about the letter writing campaign - which I can try to set in motion this weekend.

I have a couple of questions that I would appreciate feedback on:

1) How much, really, do we think that tampon manufacturers play a part in this? While I think it is worth contacting them - I'm really interested in what they'd say for a start - do we think it might be a better use of time and resources to contact gynecologists and doctors?

2) What about conditions like VV? Vaginismus isn't the only condition that can become apparent when trying to insert a tampon, and it's another condition that is not very well-known.

3) My personal opinion is that we are unlikely to change what is written on the box/leaflet. Tampon companies are not going to want anything that might put potential customers off - and I honestly think that any mention of pain or potential pain on the leaflet is going to do that.

HOWEVER, I think more companies should have better insertion & troubleshooting tips on their websites. On their websites they aren't limited by space or cost (which they are on a leaflet), and I think this would be an ideal place for companies to have more information.

I think it is much more feasible to encourage companies to update their website. This would be the much cheaper option for them too, and I think we are more likely to get results.

Thoughts?

Over the weekend I am going to get something together to promote this little bit of guerrilla-activism, and start thinking about sample letters. I think it is more hard-hitting if people write separate letters that are varied - so not just the same letter again and again. For instance, in the UK, MPs can ignore multiple copies of the same letter - you're always advised to make it a little more personal.

(Of course, I am morally torn about this whole issue. I want to raise awareness of vaginismus... but I disapprove of tampons!)
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 14, 2007 12:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Good idea, encouraging them to improve their websites.

At the same time, not everyone trying a tampon for the first time and feeling pain will even think about their websites, so we could ask them to have a wee section in their leaflets that link to a page on their website where they have further information for those finding problems when inserting a tampon or mooncup, and there they could mention vaginismus AND Vvestibulitis...

ANyway, i have to get back to work now but I'm very glad you're going to try drafting a letter that we can all then change lightly individually..
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Katherine the Shrew



Joined: 12 Jun 2007
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Location: Germany

PostPosted: Fri Jun 15, 2007 6:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

> 1) How much, really, do we think that tampon manufacturers play a part in this? While I think it is worth contacting them - I'm really interested in what they'd say for a start - do we think it might be a better use of time and resources to contact gynecologists and doctors?

In our group we think a lot about in what ways we can reach women best. One way we already put into action is via leaflets in gynecologistsí practices or advice centres. The problem is getting the money raised for it again and again. I thought about the tampons companies because I assume that almost every woman at least tries tampons once in her life. I further assume that most women will read the leaflet carefully when first trying tampons. So if vag was mentioned and briefly explained on the leaflet we could reach many women. So the aim of the tampon project is to inform women about vag. Another aim we pursue is informing doctors. Of course one possibility is also via leaflets by support groups. The problem is that many doctors will trust their specialist literature more than what some women say they experience. So we have no clever ideas about how to inform more doctors. Getting more research done is probably very difficult as a non-professional and anyway research follows its own rules I guess.

At the moment we put our energy mainly into the charity thing because we think this is a better ďframeĒ for all other projects. So the other ideas donít have a high priority at the moment.

> 2) What about conditions like VV? Vaginismus isn't the only condition that can become apparent when trying to insert a tampon, and it's another condition that is not very well-known.

I donít suffer from VV and I donít know much about it. Of course it would be very helpful if women suffering from VV could also find information about this in the tampon leaflet. But I think they have to initiate that themselves because I donít feel enabled to speak for them. One could think about a co-operation, though.

> 3) My personal opinion is that we are unlikely to change what is written on the box/leaflet. Tampon companies are not going to want anything that might put potential customers off - and I honestly think that any mention of pain or potential pain on the leaflet is going to do that.

I also think that it is rather unlikely, but still worth a try. And I still think that one chance is, that they understand that many women donít use tampons because they suffer from vag. Many women very fast come to the stage where they can and do use them, once they know what to do about it. So they would actually get more customers if they mentioned vag.

> HOWEVER, I think more companies should have better insertion & troubleshooting tips on their websites.

I totally agree. The insertion tips on the leaflet are not very helpful. I have never read the ones on the websites. I thought that we could also suggest improving the insertion tips Ėmainly on the leaflets, not only on the websites. Not every woman has access to the internet or uses the webistes of tampon companies.

> I think it is much more feasible to encourage companies to update their website. This would be the much cheaper option for them too, and I think we are more likely to get results.

Yes, I agree, thatís a good option. Also the idea with a link to the website sounds interesting.

> I think it is more hard-hitting if people write separate letters that are varied - so not just the same letter again and again. For instance, in the UK, MPs can ignore multiple copies of the same letter - you're always advised to make it a little more personal.

Thank you for this info! I have absolutely no experience in such things, but what you say sounds reasonable.

> (Of course, I am morally torn about this whole issue. I want to raise awareness of vaginismus... but I disapprove of tampons!)

Oh, thatís annoying Wink. Could you Ė briefly Ė state what exactly you disapprove of?

Bye,
Katrin

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