United States Patent 3712305

A tampon is disclosed for taking up menstrual fluids having as the main portion thereof a dry folded sheet material which is muff- or hose-shaped. The tampon is constricted and pulling means are attached at the point of constriction. The sheet material has an inner layer of absorbent fibrous material with relatively weak internal cohesion. A thin cover layer with relatively strong internal cohesion is used to prevent release of inner layer fibers. The configuration aids in insertion and the materials give good characteristics during use.

Wennerblom, Bengt Axel (Sundsvall, SW)
Udden, Per Edward Carl (Timra, SW)
Udden, Anna Britt (Timra, SW)
Lindgren, Ivar (Sorberge, SW)
Application Number:
Publication Date:
Filing Date:
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
604/375, 604/904
International Classes:
A61F13/20; A61F; (IPC1-7): A61F13/20
Field of Search:
View Patent Images:
US Patent References:
3618605CATAMENIAL TAMPON1971-11-09Glassman
3051177Absorbent product1962-08-28Wilson
2884925Tampon and depositor1959-05-05Meynier, Jr.
2845071Vaginal tampon1958-07-29Wade

Foreign References:
Primary Examiner:
Rosenbaum, Charles F.
What we claim is

1. A tampon for taking up menstrual fluids comprising

2. The tampon of claim 11 wherein one portion of said hose-shaped thin fibrous layer covers the outer surface of the hose-shaped absorbent inner layer and

3. A tampon as claimed in claim 1, characterized in that the hose-shaped material by said constriction has been imparted substantially the shape of an open bag.

4. A tampon as claimed in claim 1, characterized in that the ratio of its cross-sectional maximum dimension (B) in one direction to its cross-sectional maximum dimension (T) in a direction perpendicular to said one direction is at least about 3:1.

5. A tampon as claimed in claim 4, characterized in that the ratio of its cross-sectional maximum dimension (B) in one direction to its cross-sectional maximum dimension (T) in a direction perpendicular to said one direction is at least about 4:1.

6. A tampon as claimed in claim 1, characterized in that, in its dry position, it is compressed over a limited area or zone at the middle portion of the tampon while leaving edge portions which are non-compressed or merely slightly compressed.

7. A tampon as claimed in claim 1, characterized in that the muff- or hose-shaped material in its cylindrical form has an outer diameter of at least 20 mm, preferably at least 30 mm, for instance about 40 mm.

8. A tampon as claimed in claim 1, characterized in that the sheet-material in its non-compacted condition has an average thickness of at least 2 mm, preferably at least 3 mm, for instance 4 to 5 mm.

9. A tampon as claimed in claim 8, characterized in that the hose-shaped sheet-material, at two cross-sectionally opposite locations, is folded over twice, first in one sense and then in the opposite sense, and in which substantially only the double-folded portions of the sheet-material, which portions are narrow as compared to the width of the final tampon, are compacted against each other for keeping together the tampon in its cross-sectionally substantially oblong or rectangular shape.

10. A tampon as claimed in claim 1, characterized in that the hose-shaped material, at two cross-sectionally opposite locations, is folded over inward towards the center of the tampon so as to cause the two folded-in portions at either sides to be covered by a single layer of the sheet-material.

11. A tampon as claimed in claim 1, characterized in that, in its dry condition, it is compressed over a limited area or zone extending along the two edges of the tampon and while leaving central portions uncompressed or only slightly compressed.

12. A tampon as claimed in claim 1, characterized in that said thinner fibrous layer consists of a material, which, possibly with mutually overlapping longitudinal edge portions, is formed into a hose, the two hose ends being constricted and connected with respective strings, or a string in common for the two hose ends, and serving to facilitate removal of the tampon after use.

13. A tampon as claimed in claim 1, characterized in that it consists of a hose-like portion of a liquid-absorbent material which portion approximately at its center is constricted to form two bag-like parts.

The present invention relates to tampons for taking up, i.e. for absorbing or collecting, menstrual liquids, which tampons are composed mainly of a liquid-absorbent material preferably a fibrous material.

It has been proposed before, in order to facilitate introduction of the dry tampon into vagina, by the aid of certain facilities to constrict the fibrous material in a more or less compacted condition, thereby causing the cross-sectional area of the tampon in its constricted condition to be substantially smaller than its cross-sectional area after introducing the tampon into vagina, where the liquid-absorbent material can and should expand to thereby increase the absorption power thereof. In this instance the dry tampon has been constricted in such a way as to impart to it an essentially round or square cross-sectional shape. It is necessary, when introducing a tampon of this prior-art construction, since the vaginal opening has the configuration of a cleft and is closed laterally by musculature at the pelvis bottom, to overcome a non-insignificant reaction pressure from this musculature, which means increased frictional resistance. This is felt uncomfortable by many women. This fact, will set a practical limit to the size of the cross-sectional area of the dry tampon, and thus to the quantity of absorbent material pro unit length of the tampon which can be contained therein. Already with presently commercially available tampons this drawback is so great that certain manufacturers recommend application of vaseline to the tampon which, however, will of course deteriorate the absorption power of the tampon.

Another drawback of most prior-art tampons resides in that the absorbent material fills the entire cross section of the vagina even after the tampon has been introduced to its active position in the vagina and has been allowed to expand therein. This will limit the capability of the tampon of rapidly absorbing or collecting menstrual liquids, this drawback being particularly noticeable when larger amounts of menstrual liquids are discharged suddenly from the uterus.

The present invention has for its object to remedy the above-mentioned drawbacks and to provide a tampon exhibiting new and advantageous properties as regards its handling as well as its function when in its active position.

In a tampon according to the invention at least the main portion thereof consists of a liquid absorptive material, preferably a fibrous material, and the tampon is characterized in that it comprises a portion of a liquid absorptive material which is sleeve- or hose-shaped when in uncompressed or non-compacted condition and which is constricted and connected at the place of constriction with a means for pulling out the tampon, the tampon, in its dry condition before use, being folded over and at least partly compressed or compacted so as to exhibit a cross-sectional shape, preferably a substantially oval or rectangular shape, which is suitable for facilitating insertion of the tampon into vagina. By the expression "substantially oval or rectangular" in cross-sectional shape is generally to be understood that the cross section of the dry tampon in one direction has a largest dimension or extension which is essentially larger than the largest dimension or extension of the cross section in a direction perpendicular to said one direction. Desirably, the ratio of the two mutually perpendicular maximum dimensions should be at least about 2:1, preferably at least about 3:1, for instance about 4:1.

According to one embodiment of the invention, the tampon is composed of at least one liquid-absorbent sheet-material which, in the dry condition of the tampon, is folded over at one or more localities about axes extending in substantially parallel relation to the longitudinal direction of the tampon, and which, in its folded-over condition, is kept together in such a way that the tampon exhibits a substantially oval or rectangular cross section, as defined hereabove. In this case, the mutually contacting portions or folds of the sheet-material may be non-interconnected, or they may be interconnected by binding joints which are readily dissoluble in a moist environment and which joints may be realized by crimping the tampon together at said portions or folds.

In a preferred embodiment of the invention, the tampon is so designed, that, in its position of use and after the keeping together, if any, of the sheet material has ceased, the tampon can expand while forming at least one internal cavity which may be open towards the mouth of uterus and may be adapted to receive menstrual liquid and to facilitate absorption of such liquid by said sheet material.

The tampon may be formed, mainly at least, of a sheet-material in the form of a short hose or bag which in its circular-cylindrical shape should have an external diameter of at least 20 mm, preferably at least 30 mm, so as to enable the same to fill out the vaginal cross section completely, the internal cavity of the hose or bag being capable of receiving a substantial quantity of menstrual liquids.

Said sheet-material, according to the invention, could suitably comprise a relatively thick inner layer of liquid absorptive material having a relatively weak internal cohesion and coated at the outer surface, at least, of the tampon, by a thin fibrous layer having a relatively strong internal cohesion and being capable of preventing any release of fibers from the inner layer. Where the latter is in the form of a hose or bag, the thin fibrous layer is suitably arranged so as also to cover the inner surface of the hose or bag, in which case said thin fibrous layer may suitably be in the form of a hose in part turned inside out. This hose in the final condition of the tampon, may be contracted at its ends, in which case the two ends may be closed in common by a string, or by individual string ends, suitably of a common string. The function of this string is the well-known one, viz. to facilitate withdrawal of the tampon after use. The above-mentioned embodiment in which the ends of the hose in part turned inside out are closed by individual string ends is the preferable one, since in this case double safety will be obtained when withdrawing the tampon.

The invention will now be described more in detail with reference to the accompanying drawings, illustrating some embodiments of the tampon according to the invention, as well as of methods and material for producing the tampon, and in which:

FIGS. 1(a to c) in plane view, in side view and in cross-sectional view, respectively, illustrate a tampon according to a first embodiment of the invention;

FIGS. 2( a to c) similarly illustrate a second embodiment;

FIGS. 3( a to c) and FIGS. 4 (a to c) similarly illustrate variations of the tampon of FIGS. 2;

FIGS. 5( a, b) and 6(a, b) in plane view and side view, respectively, illustrate further embodiments;

FIG. 7 in perspective view shows an embodiment in which the tampon is produced by double-folding a hose- or bag-shaped blank;

FIG. 8 in cross section illustrates the embodiment of FIG. 7 in its final condition;

FIG. 9 in longitudinal section illustrates a hose-shaped and in part inside-out-turned surface cover for a tampon according to the invention;

FIG. 10 shows an embodiment somewhat similar to that of FIG. 7 and provided with a ring-shaped spring member for expanding the tampon;

FIGS. 11, 12 and 13 illustrates an inventive method of producing a tampon;

FIG. 14 in cross section illustrates a compacted tampon as produced by using a special folding procedure;

FIG. 15 shows an embodiment of a tampon comprising two integral, sleeve-like main portions; and

FIGS. 16 and 17 in cross section illustrate the compacted tampon of FIG. 15 as produced by the use of two different folding procedures, respectively.

Referring now more specifically to FIGS. 1 (a to c), the embodiment of a tampon 1 illustrated therein is made of a liquid absorbent sheet-material which is suitably covered by a thin protecting layer, as will be described more in detail hereinafter. The tampon is shown in its dry condition before use and has been imparted by a compacting operation, with a generally flattened shape. The length of the tampon is designated by L, its width by B and its thickness by T. The ratio of of B to T, according to the invention, should be at least 2:1, preferably at least 3:1 and suitably is about 4:1. Owing to its flattened shape, introduction of the tampon into the slot-shaped vaginal opening is facilitated. The compacting operation may be carried out at a reduced pressure so as not to cause excessive compression of the absorbent material, but enabling relatively rapid expansion of the latter after the tampon has been introduced into the moist environment within vagina.

FIGS. 2 (a to c) illustrate a tampon 2 substantially similar to that of FIGS. 1(a to c). The tampon in its connected condition consists of two or more superposed layers or sheets of the absorbent material, which may suitably be integrally connected with each other at one longitudinal edge or at both longitudinal edges of the tampon. The compaction, however, should be sufficient to keep the layers or sheets together in the compressed condition, preferably without the use of any particular adhesive. By properly controlling the compacting force, however, the adhesion between the layers will be sufficiently weak to enable the same to be rapidly released in the moist environment within the vagina, whereby the layers will separate from each other. This will increase the rate of collection of menstrual liquids by the tampon by enabling rapid absorption of such liquids within the layers. The tampon, as will be further described in connection with FIG. 13, may be produced by rolling up an absorptive sheet-material onto a mandrel and providing the same with a hose-shaped cover which is connected at both ends with pull-out strings, after which the ends of the tampon are closed and the tampon cover is turned partly inside out into the tampon. FIGS. 3 (a to c) and 4 (a to c) illustrate how it is possible, in order to keep the dry tampon together, to compact the latter over a limited central area 7' or over a longitudinal central zone 7" with a limited extension in width, whereby the absorbent material of portions 8' or 8", respectively, outside such area or zone will remain noncompacted or slightly compacted, thereby enabling them more rapidly to be rendered effective to absorb menstrual liquids after the tampon has been inserted.

FIG. 5(a and b) shows how the compaction of the tampon for keeping it together can be effected along a limited portion of the length of the tampon, so as to lease at the leading end of the tampon a non-compacted or slightly compacted portion 8'". This will soften the leading end of the tampon, making the introduction of the tampon into the vaginal opening more lenient. The same effect may be provided in the embodiment of FIG. 3 (a to c). FIG. 6(a and b) shows a combination of the embodiments of FIGS. 4 (a to c) and 5 (a and b).

As seen in plan view in FIGS. 2a, 3a, 4a, 5a and 6a, the area of the compacted portion of the tampon may be equal to, or larger than, the area of the non-compacted or merely slightly compacted portion thereof.

The compaction of the tampon as described hereabove has for its main purpose to reduce the cross-sectional area of the tampon so as to facilitate insertion of the tampon, or rather, to enable the use of as large an amount of absorbent material as possible within a predetermined cross-sectional area. The compaction, however, has also for its purpose to stiffen the tampon so that it will not collapse or otherwise become deformed during the insertion thereof.

In the embodiment of FIGS. 7 and 8, the tampon is made of a hose-shaped absorbent sheet-material. In this connection it may be pointed out that the embodiments of FIGS. 1 to 5 could also be made of such hose-shaped material, if desired. To produce a tampon according to FIGS. 7 and 8, the hose-shaped material is formed with double-bent or folded-in portions 10 and 11, respectively, at mutually opposite locations of the hose 9. FIGS. 7 illustrates how such folding operation is initiated, and FIG. 8 shows the final result after completing the double-folding operation and compacting the folded-in portions against one another for keeping the tampon together.

As appears from FIG. 8, the double-folded portions 10 and 11 are more heavily compacted whereas the portions 12 and 13 of the hose-shaped material 9 at either sides of the double-folds are non-compacted or merely slightly compacted. The compaction of the portions 10 and 11 extending longitudinally of the tampon inparts sufficient stiffness to the latter. The compaction, however, should be carried out at a moderate pressure in order, in the position of use of the tampon, to enable a relatively easy expension of its portions 10 and 11 while absorbing liquids, and to enable them to separate from each other and to unfold, whereby the tampon, while adapting itself to the vaginal space, will form an internal cavity within the tampon. Owing to the presence of such cavity, the pressure of the tampon against the vaginal walls will be reduced to a comfortably low value.

Owing to the portions 12 and 13 of the tampon according to FIGS. 7 and 8 being non-compacted or only slightly compacted, the longitudinal edges of the tampon will remain soft, enabling a lenient insertion of the tampon. Said portions, in addition, will be capable of rapidly absorbing liquid immediately upon introduction of the tampon.

FIG. 9 illustrates the tampon in its condition before folding or after expansion thereof. The internal cavity 14 is open at the end of the tampon intended to face the mouth of uterus, whereas the same is substantially closed at the opposite end of the tampon. The absorptive material layer 15 is coated by a protective layer 17 comprising an external portion 18 covering the outer surface of the material 15 and an internal portion 19 covering the inner surface of said material. The portions 18 and 19 integrally join each other at the upper end edge 16 of the tampon and suitably consist of one integral, hose-shaped piece of material which is capable of preventing any relasing of fibers from the absorbent layer 15. The hose-shaped protective layer is constricted at one end 20 as close to the bottom portion of the hose-shaped absorbent material 15 as possible, and the protective layer is also constricted at its other end 21, which other end has been moved down into the tampon by turning the hose 17 half inside out. Tied to the hose ends 20 and 21 are strings 22 and 23, respectively, the string 23 being threaded out through the tampon bottom and hose end 20. The strings 22 and 23 serve for facilitating withdrawal of the tampon. By providing the tampon with two strings attached at individual points of the tampon, increased safety will be obtained that the tampon will indeed follow when pulling the strings, since there will be relatively small probability of loosening of both string attachments. According to the method thus described, a central attachment of the pullout string of the tampon is obtained which, owing to the attachment points of both string ends being disposed relatively close to one another, will prevent folding of the tampon during its removal, since the pulling forces required for withdrawal of the tampon will be taken up along the axial center line of the tampon. The attachment of the strings 22 and 23 to the hose ends 20 and 21 may be made in various ways, such as by tying by an adhesive, by a small thermoplastical attachment member which is heated to softening temperature for fastening the same, or in any suitable other way.

FIG. 10 illustrates an embodiment of the tampon according to the invention, in which the tampon is formed from a hose-shaped material and has fastened to its upper edge a ring 25 of an elastically resilient material, such as thermoplastic, for example. This ring has for its purpose after insertion of the tampon to enhance the opening movement of the tampon and to keep the tampon open in its active position so that the volume of the internal cavity 14 of the tampon will be as large as possible, which will be the case if the ring in its expanded condition is substantially round.

FIGS. 11 and 12 illustrates a method of producing material for a tampon according to the invention. Applied onto an endless belt 31 or web forming wire which may be moved for instance in the direction indicated by the arrow P, is a material 32 intended to serve as a protective layer 17 for the tampon shown in FIG. 9. When applying the material 32 to the belt, the material is formed with double-folded portions 33 at regular intervals along the belt, the folding taking place about axes extending perpendicularly to the direction of advance P of the belt. Thereafter a loose absorbent material 34 is applied as a continuous layer or cover onto the thin material layer 32 over a zone 35 thereof, the width F of which is less than half the overall width E of the material 32. Along one lateral edge of the covered zone 35 a narrow uncovered zone 36 is provided, and to the right of zone 35 there is a wide uncovered zone 37 of the material 32. After the covering operation, the covered material is subjected to a controlled tension in its longitudinal direction, whereby the folded portions 33 of the material 32 will unfold while pulling the layer of absorbent material superposed thereover apart, thus causing the absorbent material thereafter merely to cover a plurality of relatively spaced areas. Then the material 32 is cut off perpendicularly to the longitudinal direction at the locations of the previous double folds, and a tampon is made in a manner to be described in detail in connection with FIG. 13. If the relatively separated areas covered by absorbent material are of sufficient length to enable two tampons to be formed thereof, then the covered material will additionally be cut off centrally intermediate said locations of the previous double folds of the material 32.

FIG. 13 illustrates a suitable tool for forming a tampon according to the invention, said tool being in the form of a hollow mandrel 41. Applied around the mandrel is, for example, one piece of the covered material 32 as separated in the manner just described and with its absorbent material 34 engaging the peripheral surface of the mandrel. In effect, the material 34 will then cover the entire periphery of the mandrel, whereas the material 32 which, in the peripheral direction, is longer than the material 34 by an amount corresponding to the unfolded length of the double folds 33, will coat the periphery of the mandrel with a corresponding overlap which is sufficient to keep the material 32 together in the peripheral direction. Thereafter, the material 32 is constricted at the free end of the non -covered zone 37, and a string 23 is attached to the constriction 21 and is threaded back through the central bore of the mandrel. Upon pulling the string 23, the portion of the material 32 corresponding to the zone 37 will be moved into the mandrel. Finally, the material thus composed is withdrawn from the mandrel, and the material 32 is constricted at its portion corresponding to the zone 36 so as to form a second constriction corresponding to that designated by 20 in FIG. 9.

Although the method thus described for producing a tampon according to the invention has many advantages the tampon, of course, could be formed by several other methods.

A tampon according to the invention, as mentioned hereinbefore, in its dry and compressed condition is essentially flat and substantially has the shape of a parallelepiped with rounded edges, and its dimensions may be as follows:

Length (L) =40 to 80 mm Width (B) =15 to 40 mm Thickness (T) =3 to 15 mm

Insofar as the tampon is made of a hose-shaped material, as shown, for example, in FIGS. 7 to 10, the outer diameter of the hose in its cylindrical form may be 15 to 40 mm. The thickness of the layer of liquid absorptive material of the hose wall may be 2 to 6 mm.

As regards the material from which the tampon according to the invention should suitably be formed, the following points of view may be given:

The absorptive material may be of the same kind as that employed in conventional tampons, such as compacted, long-fiber type rayon, dry-defibrated cellulose pulp, cotton fibers and/or any other fibrous material exhibiting a good absorption capacity.

The protective cover or protective layer of the tampon may consist of non-woven fabric having, for instance, a base weight of about 15 g/m2 and completely enclosing the tampon with the major portion of its fibers extending substantially in the longitudinal direction of the tampon to ensure sufficient tensile strength of the tampon upon pulling out the same after use. The protective cover could also consist, for instance, of a thin woven textile material or of a soft, wet-strong and porous sheet-material. It is preferred, however, to use the non-woven type textile material which should cover the tampon completely, both outwardly and inwardly, as described. The principal advantage of a tampon which is completely enclosed by a protective cover resides in that no loose filaments or fiber bundles can remain in vagina upon removing the tampon.

Further owing to the presence of this closed cover, which can, of course, be tightly closed also in the longitudinal direction of the tampon, it will be possible to predetermine the expansion of the tampon due to liquid absorption both longitudinally and circumferentially, so as thereby to attain optimum characteristics of the tampon in use and upon removal thereof after use.

FIG. 14 shows in cross section a compacted tampon according to the invention, and in which a sleeve-like material as that of FIG. 9 is at two opposite positions folded inward towards the center of the tampon where the folded-in portions or folds 43 and 44 meet. Within the compacted tampon the inturned folds will be positioned between two single layers of the absorbent sheet-material, as will be seen from the FIGURE.

FIG. 15 is a perspective view of a non-compacted tampon according to a still further embodiment of the invention. This embodiment comprises two sleeve-like portions 51 and 52 formed from one single hose-shaped blank and constricted at a position 55 where they are integrally connected. The sleeve-like portions 51 and 52 at their extreme ends have openings 53 and 54, respectively, to corresponding internal cavities. At its constriction 55 the tampon is provided with a pull string 56. The tampon shown in FIG. 15, in certain cases, may preferable before that shown in FIG. 9. Thus, for instance, it may be better adaptable to the femal sexual organ upon withdrawal of the tampon therefrom, owing to the fact that, on this occasion, it will more readily take up a flat shape thereby enabling the same more easily to have imparted to it a turning movement or twist of a kind required at the passage thereof from vagina to the vaginal entrance to make the withdrawal comfortable at these passages which, as seen in cross section, have the general shape of slots extending at an angle to each other.

FIGS. 16 and 17 illustrate two alternative methods of folding and compacting a tampon according to FIG. 15. In these FIGURES which illustrate the tampon in cross-section, FIG. 16 shows how the tampon can be compacted without any folding in the portions of the hose-shaped portions 51 and 52, while FIG. 17 illustrates compacting after folding in said portions in accordance with the exposure of FIG. 3, for example.

The invention is not restricted to the embodiments as described and illustrated by way of example, since these are susceptible or different variations and modifications without any departure from the scope of the invention.