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Q&A : FRUSTRATION LEADS TO ALTERNATIVE IN FEMININE PROTECTION.

Audrey Contente, who started her career as a biomedical instruments and supplies saleswoman, has invented a feminine protection product being marketed as ``the first real alternative in feminine protection in more than 60 years.''

Contente, a former triathlete, said she came up with the product out of frustration and need.

``One day, I got out of the pool, I went one way and the tampon went the other,'' she said. ``We went from rags to pads in the '20s, from pads to tampons in the '30s, and then nothing (new), pretty much. I thought, `Why does it have to be that way?' ''

After 10 years of research, design and development, she came up with Instead and founded Ultrafem Inc., the Montana company that manufactures the product.

Instead was introduced in drugstores in the Pacific Northwest and Northern California in September 1996, and, in March, became available in major supermarkets and drugstores in Los Angeles. The product also is available nationwide at Target and Walgreen.

For more information, call (888) 467-8323.

Contente provided the following information:

What is Instead?

It's a round device, with a pink rim and semi-clear cup, made of thermoplastic, the same soft, flexible material used in medical products such as catheter tubing and baby bottle nipples.

How does it work?

The device is inserted without an applicator by pressing the rim of the cup together, making it slightly longer but no wider than a tampon. Once in place, it conforms to the woman's body under the cervix and next to the pubic bone. To remove, put your finger under the rim and pull.

Won't removal be messy?

Instead of absorbing menstrual fluid, this product catches fluid in a cup. But there's no likelihood of making a mess. Women bleed less than half a cup during the length of a period; even the heaviest flow day yields only one to two tablespoons of fluid.

How safe is it?

The Food and Drug Administration approved Instead in 1993. It has been shown to not cause Toxic Shock Syndrome toxins.

How is this product different from tampons or pads?

Because it does not absorb vaginal fluids, it is safe to wear up to 12 hours at a time. The one product also accommodates heavy- to light-flow days, and one size fits all. It can remain in place during sexual intercourse, but is not a prophylactic.

Are there any negative side effects?

None known. Any woman who is menstruating and who uses tampons or pads can use Instead. However, while there are no latex or dioxins in the product, anyone who has high allergic reactions should check with their doctor first.

What impact does this product have on our environment?

It is not flushable. It is not biodegradable. And it is not reusable. It must be disposed of in the trash, just like any other feminine protection product.

How much does it cost?

Instead costs about $2 for a box of six and $5 for a box of 14.
COPYRIGHT 1997 Daily News
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1997, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:L.A. LIFE
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Apr 14, 1997
Words:498
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