Tampon with scale

A tampon is a feminine hygiene product designed to absorb the menstrual flow by insertion into the vagina during menstruation. Once inserted correctly a tampon is held in place by the vagina and expands as it soaks up menstrual blood. The majority of tampons sold are made of rayon, or a blend of rayon and cotton. Tampons are available in several absorbency ratings.

The average woman may use approximately 11,400 tampons in her lifetime (if she uses only tampons rather than other products).[1]

Several countries regulate tampons as medical devices. In the United States, they are considered to be a Class II medical device by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). They are sometimes used for hemostasis in surgery.

Design and packaging

A tampon with applicator
The elements of a tampon with applicator. Left: the bigger tube ("penetrator"). Center: cotton tampon with attached string. Right: the narrower tube.
Tampon inserted

Tampon design varies between companies and across product lines in order to offer a variety of applicators, materials and absorbencies.[2] There are two main categories of tampons based on the way of insertion - digital tampons inserted by finger and applicator tampons. 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 petaled.[3][4]

The two main differences are in the way the tampon expands when in use; applicator tampons generally expand axially (increase in length), while digital tampons will expand radially (increase in diameter).[5] Most tampons have a cord or string for removal. 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.[6]

Absorbency ratings

2 water drop marks mean that the absorbency is between 6 and 9 g.

Tampons are available in several absorbency ratings, which are consistent across manufacturers in the U.S.:[7]

  • Junior/Light absorbency: 6 g and under
  • Regular absorbency: 6–9 g
  • Super absorbency: 9–12 g
  • Super Plus absorbency 12–15 g
  • Ultra absorbency 15–18 g

Absorbency ratings outside the US may be different. The majority of non-US manufacturers use absorbency rating and Code of Practice recommended by EDANA (European Disposals and Nonwovens Association).

European absorbency ratings
Droplets Grams Alternative size description
1 droplet < 6
2 droplets 6–9 Mini
3 droplets 9–12 Regular
4 droplets 12–15 Super
5 droplets 15–18
6 droplets 18–21

A piece of test equipment referred to as a Syngina (short for synthetic Vagina) is usually used to test absorbency. The machine uses a condom into which the tampon is inserted, and synthetic menstrual fluid is fed into the test chamber.[8]

Other Languages
Alemannisch: Tampon
català: Tampó
čeština: Tampon
Cymraeg: Tampon
Deutsch: Tampon
Ελληνικά: Ταμπόν
Esperanto: Tampono
فارسی: تامپون
Gaeilge: Súitín
한국어: 탐폰
हिन्दी: तंपन
Bahasa Indonesia: Tampon
עברית: טמפון
қазақша: Тығын
magyar: Tampon
日本語: タンポン
norsk: Tampong
português: Tampão
Simple English: Tampon
suomi: Tamponi
svenska: Tampong
中文: 衛生棉條