Tampon
Overview
A tampon is a mass of cotton or rayon or a mixture of the two inserted into a body cavity
Body cavity
By the broadest definition, a body cavity is any fluid-filled space in a multicellular organism. However, the term usually refers to the space located between an animal’s outer covering and the outer lining of the gut cavity, where internal organs develop...

 or wound
Wound
A wound is a type of injury in which skin is torn, cut or punctured , or where blunt force trauma causes a contusion . In pathology, it specifically refers to a sharp injury which damages the dermis of the skin.-Open:...

 to absorb bodily
fluid. The most common type in daily use (and the topic of the remainder of this article) is designed to be inserted into the vagina
Vagina
The vagina is a fibromuscular tubular tract leading from the uterus to the exterior of the body in female placental mammals and marsupials, or to the cloaca in female birds, monotremes, and some reptiles. Female insects and other invertebrates also have a vagina, which is the terminal part of the...

 during menstruation
Menstruation
Menstruation is the shedding of the uterine lining . It occurs on a regular basis in sexually reproductive-age females of certain mammal species. This article focuses on human menstruation.-Overview:...

 to absorb the flow of menstrual fluid. Several countries—including the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

, under the banner of the Food and Drug Administration
Food and Drug Administration
The Food and Drug Administration is an agency of the United States Department of Health and Human Services, one of the United States federal executive departments...

 (FDA)—regulate tampons as medical devices.
Encyclopedia
A tampon is a mass of cotton or rayon or a mixture of the two inserted into a body cavity
Body cavity
By the broadest definition, a body cavity is any fluid-filled space in a multicellular organism. However, the term usually refers to the space located between an animal’s outer covering and the outer lining of the gut cavity, where internal organs develop...

 or wound
Wound
A wound is a type of injury in which skin is torn, cut or punctured , or where blunt force trauma causes a contusion . In pathology, it specifically refers to a sharp injury which damages the dermis of the skin.-Open:...

 to absorb bodily
fluid. The most common type in daily use (and the topic of the remainder of this article) is designed to be inserted into the vagina
Vagina
The vagina is a fibromuscular tubular tract leading from the uterus to the exterior of the body in female placental mammals and marsupials, or to the cloaca in female birds, monotremes, and some reptiles. Female insects and other invertebrates also have a vagina, which is the terminal part of the...

 during menstruation
Menstruation
Menstruation is the shedding of the uterine lining . It occurs on a regular basis in sexually reproductive-age females of certain mammal species. This article focuses on human menstruation.-Overview:...

 to absorb the flow of menstrual fluid. Several countries—including the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

, under the banner of the Food and Drug Administration
Food and Drug Administration
The Food and Drug Administration is an agency of the United States Department of Health and Human Services, one of the United States federal executive departments...

 (FDA)—regulate tampons as medical devices. In the United States, tampons are a Class II medical device
Medical device
A medical device is a product which is used for medical purposes in patients, in diagnosis, therapy or surgery . Whereas medicinal products achieve their principal action by pharmacological, metabolic or immunological means. Medical devices act by other means like physical, mechanical, thermal,...

. Tampon originated from the medieval French
French language
French is a Romance language spoken as a first language in France, the Romandy region in Switzerland, Wallonia and Brussels in Belgium, Monaco, the regions of Quebec and Acadia in Canada, and by various communities elsewhere. Second-language speakers of French are distributed throughout many parts...

 word tampion, meaning a piece of cloth to stop a hole, a stamp, plug, or stopper.

History

As a medical device, the tampon has been around since the 11th century, when antiseptic
Antiseptic
Antiseptics are antimicrobial substances that are applied to living tissue/skin to reduce the possibility of infection, sepsis, or putrefaction...

 cotton tampons treated with salicylates
Salicylic acid
Salicylic acid is a monohydroxybenzoic acid, a type of phenolic acid and a beta hydroxy acid. This colorless crystalline organic acid is widely used in organic synthesis and functions as a plant hormone. It is derived from the metabolism of salicin...

 were used to stop the bleeding from bullet wounds so that soldiers could survive battle, and there have been reports of modern menstrual tampons being used for the same purpose by soldiers in the Iraq War. In a 2009 episode of Spike TV
Spike TV
Spike is an American cable television channel. It launched on March 7, 1983 as The Nashville Network , a joint venture of WSM, Inc...

's Surviving Disaster
Surviving Disaster (TV Series)
Surviving Disaster was a simulation of real life disaster situations produced by Spike. Hosted by former Navy SEAL Cade Courtley, each episode retells situations in a worst-case scenario and what viewers can do to survive them. There have been ten episodes aired to date. The series was not picked...

, host Cade Courtley, in an episode about how to survive a terrorist shooting, shows how to use a tampon as a field dressing.

It is documented that gynecologist Dr. Judith Esser-Mittag developed, during her studies on the female anatomy, the digital design of tampon. In the late 1940s, Dr. Carl Hahn, together with Heinz Mittag, worked on the mass production of such a tampon. Dr. Hahn sold his company which included the digital-style tampon range to Johnson and Johnson
Johnson & Johnson
Johnson & Johnson is an American multinational pharmaceutical, medical devices and consumer packaged goods manufacturer founded in 1886. Its common stock is a component of the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the company is listed among the Fortune 500....

 in 1974.

Design and packaging

Tampons come in various sizes, which are related to their absorbency ratings and packaging. The outward appearance of a tampon is similar for all brands, but their absorbency varies. The two main differences are in the way the tampon expands when in use; for example applicator tampons such as Tampax tampons and Natracare tampons will expand axially (increase in length), while OB, Natracare and Lil-lets digital tampons will expand radially (increase in diameter). All tampons have a cord for removal and some have an additional outer cover to aid insertion and withdrawal. Some women prefer to use a tampon which is contained within an applicator to further aid insertion.

The majority of tampons sold are made of rayon, or a blend of rayon and cotton. Organic cotton tampons are made from only 100% cotton. Tampons are sold individually wrapped to keep them clean. Since the vagina is not a sterile body cavity, and for the most part contains “good bacteria”, there is no need for any menstrual device to be sterilized.

Tampon applicators may be made of plastic or cardboard, and are similar in design to a syringe. The applicator consists of two tubes, an "outer," or barrel, and "inner," or plunger. The outer tube has a smooth surface to aid insertion and sometimes comes with a rounded end that is petalled.

The tampon itself sits inside the outer tube, near the open end. The inner tube is encased inside the outer tube and held in place by a locking mechanism. The outer tube is inserted into the vagina, then the inner tube is pushed into the outer tube (typically using a finger) pushing the tampon through and into the vagina.

Digital or non-applicator tampons are tampons sold without applicators; these are simply unwrapped and pushed into the vagina with the fingers.

Absorbency ratings

Tampons are available in several different absorbency ratings, which are consistent across manufacturers in the U.S.:
  • Junior absorbency: 6 grams and under
  • Regular absorbency: 6 to 9 grams
  • Super absorbency: 9 to 12 grams
  • Super Plus absorbency 12 to 15 grams
  • Ultra absorbency 15–18 grams


In the UK absorbencies range as follows:
  • Lite/Lites/Light (light flow) 6 g and under
  • Regular/Normal (light to medium flow) 6–9 g
  • Super (medium to heavy flow) 9–12 g
  • Super Plus (heavy flow) 12–15 g
  • Super Plus Extra (very heavy flow) 15–18 g

Toxic shock syndrome

Dr. Philip M. Tierno Jr., director of clinical microbiology and immunology at the New York University Medical Center, who helped determine that tampons were behind toxic shock syndrome cases in the early 1980s, blames the introduction of higher-absorbency tampons in 1978, as well as the relatively recent decision by manufacturers to recommend that tampons can be worn overnight, for increased incidences of toxic shock syndrome. Materials used in most modern tampons are so highly absorbent that they pose the risk of absorbing the vagina's natural discharge and upsetting its natural moisture balance, which is what enables toxic shock syndrome to occur. The U.S. FDA suggests the following guidelines for decreasing the risk of contracting TSS when using tampons:
  • Follow package directions for insertion
  • Choose the lowest absorbency needed for one's flow
  • Consider using cotton or cloth tampons rather than rayon
  • Change the tampon at least every 4 to 6 hours
  • Alternate between tampons and pads
  • Avoid tampon usage overnight when sleeping
  • Increase awareness of the warning signs of toxic shock syndrome and other tampon-associated health risks


Following these guidelines can help to protect a woman from TSS, and cases of tampon connected TSS are extremely rare in the United States.

Alternatives to tampons include menstrual cups, pads, and sea sponges. However, sea sponges are technically no longer allowed to be sold as menstrual aids. A 1980 study by the University of Iowa found commercially sold sea sponges to contain sand, grit, and bacteria; therefore, sea sponges could also potentially cause toxic shock syndrome.

Other health concerns

Tampons may contain pesticides used on the cotton and chlorine
Chlorine
Chlorine is the chemical element with atomic number 17 and symbol Cl. It is the second lightest halogen, found in the periodic table in group 17. The element forms diatomic molecules under standard conditions, called dichlorine...

 which is used to bleach them. Some of the substances used to bleach tampons have been implicated in the formation of dioxin. A study by the FDA done in 1995 says there are not sufficient amounts of dioxin to pose a health risk; the amount detected ranged from undetectable to 1 part in 3 trillion, which is far less than the normal exposure to dioxin in everyday life. Tampons not using bleaching are on the market, but no research has been conducted to determine whether all-cotton tampons and pads are safer than the more commonly available tampons and pads.

Further reading

  • Finley, Harry (1998)(2001). The Museum of Menstruation and Women's Health. Retrieved December 12, 2003 from http://www.mum.org/comtampons.htm
  • Khela, Bal (November 26, 1999). The Women's Environmental Network. Retrieved December 13, 2003 from http://www.wen.org.uk/gen_eng/Genetics/tampon1.htm
  • Meadows, Michelle (March–April, 2000). Tampon safety: TSS now rare, but women should still take care. FDA Consumer magazine.
  • Sanpro. (April 8, 2003). The Women's Environmental Network. Retrieved December 13, 2003 from http://www.wen.org.uk/sanpro/sanpro.htm
  • Truths and myths about tampons http://www.snopes.com/toxins/tampon.htm
  • Using a Toilet for Tampon Disposal
  • Practicing Proper Sanitary Napkin Disposal
  • The effects of lactic acid bacteria: Bacterial Vaginosis: a public health review, Marianne Morris et al., British Journal of Obstetrics and Gyneocology, 2001, Bacterial Vaginosis as a risk factor for preterm delivery: A meta analysis, Harld Leitisch et al., General Obstetrics and Gynecology Obstetrics, 2003.

External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
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