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Publication numberUS3762413 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateOct 2, 1973
Filing dateJun 21, 1972
Priority dateJun 21, 1972
Publication numberUS 3762413 A, US 3762413A, US-A-3762413, US3762413 A, US3762413A
InventorsD Hanke
Original AssigneeKimberly Clark Co
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Tampon with multiple strings
US 3762413 A
Abstract
A tampon folded in a U-shape is equipped with multiple strings including a withdrawal cord affixed near the base of the U, and a pair of manipulating strings, one end of each of the latter being attached near the top end of each leg of the U. The multistringed tampon structure is combined with a telescoping inserter device and the manipulating strings are employed to spread open the tampon during or after insertion for the purpose of transversely blocking the vaginal cavity against leakage of menstrual exudate or the like. Traction applied to the withdrawal cord refolds the tampon to its initial U-shape for easy removal.
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United States Patent 1191 Hanke 1 Oct. 2, 1973 [54] TAMPON WITH MULTIPLE STRINGS 2,879,769 3/1959 Gordon et al l28/263 [75] Inventor: David E. Hanke, Neenah, Wis.

Primary Examiner-Charles F. Rosenbaum Asslgneei xlmberly'clark Corporation, Attorney-Daniel J. Hanlon, Jr. et al.

Neenah, Wis.

[22] Filed: June 21, I972 [57] ABSTRACT [21] Appl. No.: 264,741 A tampon folded in a U-shape is equipped with multiple strings including a withdrawal cord affixed near the base of the U, and a pair of manipulating strings, one [52] US. Cl. 128/285 end of each of the latter being attached near the top [51] Int. Cl. A6" 13/20 58 d is h 128 263 270 285 end of each leg of the U. The multlstrlnged tampon 1 0 can structure is combined with a telescoping inserter device and the manipulating strings are employed to spread [56] Reerences cued open the tampon during or after insertion for the pur- UNITED STATES PATENTS a pose of transversely blocking the vaginal cavity against 2,355,917 8/1944 Knight 128/263 leakage of menstrual exudate or the like. Traction ap- 2.40l,585 6/l946 Seidlehm 123/263 plied to the withdrawal cord refolds the tampon to its 2,430.250 11 1947 Seidler 128/263 initial ushape for easy removal 2.450138 9/1948 Harwood 128/263 2,71 l,l73 6/l955 Seidler l28/263 10 Claims, 9 Drawing Figures PATEN'IEDBEI elm SHEET 1 [IF 3 'FIVG.3

FIG.I

FIG. 2

PATENTED DCI 2 m SHEET 2 or 3 mmmnnml ws FIG.4

FIG. 5

TAMPON WITH MULTIPLE STRINGS BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION It has long been recognized that the vaginal cavity in its normal collapsed state is of much wider dimension in its transverse plane than it is in its vertical. plane. It is desirable therefore, when considering a tampon structure for use in absorbing vaginal exudatessuch as menstrual fluids, to design the tampon so that when it is in place in the vaginal cavity it will be much wider in transverse dimension than it is in vertical dimension. While this is a desired arrangement, it is not easily achieved because of the size limitations imposed by insertion requirements. Since the vaginal orifice is normally much smaller than the interior dimensions of the vaginal cavity which a tampon is expected to seal against leakage, the size of a tampon which can be inserted without physical discomfort is severely limited.

In most cases, therefore, tampons now in general use,

comprise small cylindrical plugs about k inch to inch in diameter and about 2 inches to 2-% inches in length. These are usually formed from much larger batts of absorbent fibers compressed to the small self-sustaining size mentioned above. As fluid is absorbed, these tampons are expected to re-expand toward their precompressed size and in so doing become large enough to effectively block the vaginal cavity against fluid leakage or bypass. However, it has been found that while these compressed tampons do their intended job tolerably well, even the best of them do not re-expand sufficiently, or quickly enough, to provide a good transverse block even though the vertical block obtained is usually satisfactory. In any event, these tampons all rely on some fluid absorption to obtain the necessary expansion. It is clear, therefore, that fluid bypass or leakage can occur most easily immediately following the time of insertion. Further because of the size limitations imposed by ease of insertion requirements it has been found that even at full expansion effective leakage control is difficult to achieve.

It is evident that more effective utilization of absorptive capacity of a tampon would be achieved if some way were devised to provide expansion of the tampon in the transverse dimension immediately after insertion. Such expansion should preferably be independent of the fluid absorption requirement, and coincident with insertion.

Attempts have been made to improve the transverse block by sidewise manipulation of regular tampons during insertion by means of a manipulative string or the like affixed to the leading end of a tampon element used in conjunction with a tube type insertion device. Examples of such improvements in the patented art may be found in US. Pat. Nos. 2,501,972 and 2,77l,l73 to Seidler; 2,879,769 to Gordon et al., and 2,879,770 to Graham.

In the latter two patents a single cord or ribbon is affixed to the front end of a flexible cylindrical tampon of the size and type described earlier. The tampon is disposed within an insertion tube and the trailing or free end of the cord temporarily anchored to the tube base. While the tampon is being ejected, tension on the cord as it is held to the base of the outer tube at the anchor point cause the front end of the tampon to bend. At full ejection the tampon is turned sideways in the cavity and unless the inserter is deliberately tilted by the user after insertion, which is difficult to do, the inserted tampon remains offset to one side of the cavity. After ejection, it is also necessary for the user to detach the cord from its anchor point at the base of the tube before the insertion tube can be removed.

In the Seidler patents the tampon is folded in a U- shaped and disposed in a tube with the legsv of the U pointing upward. A cord is affixed to the end of one leg of the folded tampon and the free'end of the cord temporarily anchored in some fashion to the base of the tube. Seidler also mentions that one or both ends may be anchored. During ejection, the resulting restraint on the free end of the cord causes one end of the tampon to bend downward, and at full ejection, the partially opened tampon has the shape of a reversed small letter h. As with the patents mentioned previously, it appears that with the method of insertion shown, the ejection tampon will again be offset to one side of the vaginal cavity. After ejection it is also necessary to detach the cord from its anchoring point either by physical removal as taught in the earliest issued Seidler patent or by manipulation of the inner tube as in the later issued patent.

In each of the above cases, some manipulation is required after the tampon is inserted, in order for the user before the tampon can be removed. This is undesirable,

whether or not the tampon has expanded to any great extent during use. A multiplicity of nerve endings disposed in the vaginal tract adjacent the vaginal orifice makes that area especially sensitive to any scraping action which may occur. It is highly desirable therefore that during removal of a used tampon any rubbing contact be minimized in that area to prevent a feeling of irritation.

The tampon of the present invention has a structure which in addition to providing an immediate transverse block to fluid leakage, also permits easy removal with a minimum of tissue stimulation and user discomfort. Other advantages will become apparent by reference to the accompanying drawings and detailed description as set forth below.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION The improved tampon and inserter of this invention comprises a U-shaped tampon provided with 3 strings. The tampon is disposed within a tubular inserter device in a manner which enables the user to spread the tampon simultaneously in both transverse directions during, or immediately after, insertion. In addition, withdrawal of the tampon after use, is much simplified.

The U-shaped tampon may be made of conventional absorbent materials compressed to the usual small size and shape for convenience in insertion. One of the above-mentioned three strings is a withdrawal cord which is attached to the bottom of the U. The other two strings comprise a pair of manipulative strings one of each of which is attached to one of each of the legs of the U. An end of one string is attached near the terminus of one leg of the U and an end of the other string is attached near the terminus of the other leg of the U. The tampon is disposed in a conventional inserter device comprising an inserter tube and a telescoping plunger. The manipulative strings loosely depend from the terminus of each leg, and are also loosely disposed inside the tube between the inner wall of the tube and the tampon body, exiting near, or at, the base of the tube.

In oneembodiment, the manipulative strings are long enough to extend through the base of the outer tube, and through and past the trailing end of the hollow plunger, along with the withdrawal cord. In operating this form of the device, the leading end of the outer tube is inserted by the user in the usual manner and then by telescoping the plunger, the tampon in its cylindrical, unopened form is ejected into the vaginal cavity. After the tampon is fully ejected, the tube inserter is retained in place and while the inserter is held with one hand the free ends of the manipulative strings are then grasped and pulled with the other hand. The top portion of the inserter tube then acts as a fulcrum on which the bottom of the U-shaped tampon rests. While the bottom of the tampon is so positioned, pulling on the manipulative strings causes the tampon legs to pivot both downward and sidewise to thereby provide a positive block of the vaginal cavity. In this embodiment, some sort of indicia such as a colored or embossed marking is necessary on the outer tube to indicate the alignment of the tampon with the tube. That is, the marking should be so disposed to enable the user to insert the tampon with the plane which defines one face of the U facing upward. This will assure the user that the transverse spreading of the tampon body will take place in the transverse plane of the vaginal cavity.

In another embodiment, which is much simpler to operate, there is provided near the base of the outer tube containing the tampon, a small aperture through which the free ends of the manipulating strings are threaded to hang outside the tube and lie over the gripping portion provided at the base of the tube. The free ends of the string are long enough to be disposed loosely between the tampon and tube walls and still extend a short distance below this gripping portion. The aperture is located perpendicular to a plane coincident with the plane defining one face of the U. During insertion the user grips the outer tube at its base with the aperture facing upwardly, so that the plane of the U is properly aligned with the transverse plane of the vagina. The thumb is pressed against the free ends of the strings to hold them in place against the tube base, and the tube is inserted in the normal manner. After insertion the plunger is telescoped to eject the tampon. As the tampon is ejected, the legs of the U are pulled down and outward by the strings attached to their outer ends, and the tampon is thus caused to open out and spread transversely into the shape of a flat letter M having rounded shoulders. A terminal portion of each of the legs of the M are thus extended into contact with the respective side wall of the vaginal cavity to thereby provide a positive transverse seal. After the plunger is completely telescoped and the tampon ejected, the strings held by the thumb are released and the entire inserter device is easily withdrawn without futher manipulation.

The length of string disposed loosely within the tube may be regulated by the manufacturer so that the extent of spreading of the legs may be predetermined.

If desired, the strings attached to the leg ends of the U-shaped tampon may also be made of water-soluble fibers such as sodium alginate, polyvinyl alcohol, or hydroxypropyl cellulose and the like. This permits the string, or a portion of it, to dissolve in body exudates during the time the tampon is in place in the body. When water-soluble strings are employed with the first long-stringed embodiment, that portion of the strings which are disposed within the body will dissolve if retained in place a sufficient length of time. Thus, under ordinary circumstances, when the time comes for withdrawal of the tampon, no pressure will be exerted on these strings if they are grasped accidentally at the time of withdrawal. Instead, all traction will be exerted only by the withdrawal cord.

With the tampon in place, the withdrawal cord extends outside the body in the usual manner. When withdrawal of the tampon is necessary, pulling on the withdrawal cord will apply traction to the center of the transversely spread tampon and cause the legs of the partially opened, or fully opened M-shape, to fold back and return to its original U-shape as it is being withdrawn. Withdrawal is thereby accomplished with ease because there is a minimum distortion of the sensitive area near the vaginal orifice.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS In the drawings:

FIG. 1 is a long view of a tampon in accordance with one embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 2 is a long view of the tampon of FIG. I disposed in a suitable insertion device with the latter shown in section.

FIG. 3 is a long view similar to FIG. 2 of the tampon after ejection and with the tampon legs partly spread out.

FIG. 4 is a long view of a tampon in accordance with another embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 5 is a view partly cut away of the FIG. 4 device disposed in an insertion device.

FIG. 6 is a view partly cut away of the FIG. 5 device with the tampon partially ejected.

FIG. 7 is a partial view of the FIG. 5 device with the tampon fully ejected.

FIG. 8 is a partial view of the base portion of the outer tube and plunger of another embodiment of a suitable insertion device.

FIG. 9 is a partial view of still another embodiment of a suitable insertion device.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION In FIG. 1 there is shown a U-shaped tampon 12 of absorbent material. The tampon is provided at the bottom of the U with a withdrawal cord 14 having a terminal knot 15 or other tactile identifying means. At the end of each leg 16 of the tampon there is provided a manipulating string 18. The manipulating strings are attached near the terminus 16 of each leg and have downwardly depending free ends 19 which are substantially as long as withdrawal cord 14. Cord 14 has a knot, bead or the like 15 near its end in order that it may be kinesthetically distinguished from free ends 19.

In FIG. 2 the tampon 12 is shown disposed in an outer insertion tube 20 of plastic or the like. A hollow telescoping plunger 24 is slidably disposed under tampon 12 and fits within gripping portion 22 of tube 20. Manipulating strings 18 and withdrawal cord 15 are all threaded through hollow plunger 24 with their free ends extending from the bottom opening of the plunger. Strings l8 depend from each leg 16 and are loosely disposed between the walls of tube 20 and tampon 12. In order to utilize the tampon, the user inserts tube 20 in the usual manner and to the desired depth, making certain that the plane of the U is coincident with the transverse plane of the vaginal cavity by indicia means on the outer surface of the tube, not shown. The said means, of course, indicates the radial disposition of the tampon in the tube. Plunger 24 is then telescoped inwardly to the position shown in FIG. 3. With the tube still in place, the inserter device is held with one hand and knotless string ends 19 are then carefully segregated from cord 14, and pulled in the direction indicated by arrow 21. This operation causes legs 16 of the tampon 12 to be gradually spread apart as shown. The user may continue to exert pulling force on the strings 19 until the legs 16 are spread open as far as is desired. After spreading, string ends 19 are released, and tube 20 and plunger 24 may be easily removed as a unit, leaving cord 14, knot 15, and string ends 19 extending outside the body in the usual fashion. When it is desired to change tampons, withdrawal cord 14, identified by terminal knot or other tactile means is grasped and withdrawn. The pulling force exerted on the base of the center of the opened tampon by withdrawal string 14 causes the spread out leg portions of the tampon to fold back into its U shape as it is being withdrawn, for easy removal.

In FIG. 4 there is shown a modified tampon structure in which all parts are the same as in FIG. 1 except for the length of strings 18a. In this instance strings 18a in FIG. 4 are shorter than strings 18 in FIG. 1 for reasons to be made apparent below.

In FIG. 5 the tampon 12 is shown disposed in an outer insertion tube of plastic or the like. Tube 20a has a gripping portion 22a through which a telescoping plunger 24a is disposed. Above the gripping portion 22a there is provided an aperture 26 in the tube wall near the base of tube 20a. For proper radial alignment of the tampon within the tube, aperture 26 is located with respect to tampon 20 so that an imaginary vertical line dropped from the aperture is perpendicular to the plane of the U. Strings 18a extend loosely from each leg terminus l6 downwardly between the walls of tube 20a and outwardly through aperture 26. Free ends 19a of the strings extend over and beyond gripping portion 22a. Withdrawal cord 14 extends through hollow plunger 24a as shown.

In FIG. 6 the thumb 30 and middle finger 32 are used to grasp gripping portion 22a of tube 20a with string ends l9a held firmly between the thumb 30 and gripping portion 22a of tube 200. Aperture 26 is positioned so as to face upward for proper alignment of the tampon during insertion. After inserting the outer tube in proper position, index finger 31 is pressed against plunger 24a in order to eject tampon 12. Because the strings ends 190 are held against movement by the thumb 30, outward movement of leg termini 16 is restricted by strings 18a and legs 16 are caused to are outwardly and downwardly as the tampon 12 is ejected.

In FIG. 7 the tampon 12 is shown as being completely ejected in the form of a flat letter M having rounded shoulders and the outer leg portions 16 of the M are free to contact the end walls of the vaginal cavity. In performing the insertion as illustrated in FIGS. 6 and 7, the user is free to release string ends 19 at any time during the operation to insure that legs 16 are not spread too far to cause discomfort. In fact, the user may elect not to hold string ends 19 at all whereby a conventional insertion operation may be carried out with tampon l2 unopened, which may be desired in the waning days of a period.

In FIG. 8 there, is shown an alternate form of an outer tube 40 with a reinforcing ring 42 used as the gripping portion. An aperture 44 through which strings 19 are threaded is disposed slightly above ring 42. The strings may be held or not held by the user during insertion, as with the previous embodiment. In this arrangement, hollow plunger 45 is also provided with a longitudinally extending groove 43 which is disposed directly beneath strings l9 and aperture 44 so there will be no binding betweenplunger 45 and strings 19 during the telescoping action.

In FIG. 9 there is shown another form ofinsertion device with a base of reduced diameter as in FIGS. 2 and 5. However in this embodiment strings l9 and threaded between hollow plunger 24b and gripping portion 22b. A longitudinally extending groove 47 is provided in plunger 24b to allow strings 19 to be loosely disposed therein. Indicia means 49 are also shown on tube base 221) for proper radial disposition of the tampon as previously indicated. In operating this device, strings 19 are folded back over indicia 49 and held by the thumb against gripping portion 22b, in order to control the opening of the tampon as in the FIG. 6 device. The withdrawal cord is threaded through the hollow plunger as in FIG. 6 to keep it segregated from the manipulating strings.

What is claimed is:

1. The combination of a transversely spreadable tampon and an inserter therefor; said inserter comprising an elongate open-ended outer tube and an inner plunger telescopically associated therewith, said tube having a leading end from which said tampon may be ejected by telescoping said plunger and a trailing end provided with a gripping means at the base which is gripped by the user during insertion of the tube and tampon ejection; said tampon comprising a U-shaped absorbent element having a withdrawal cord attached to the bottom of the U and having a pair of manipulating strings attached near the top of the U, an end of one of said strings being attached near the terminus of one leg of said U and an end of the other of said strings being attached near the terminus of the other leg of said U; said tampon being disposed in said outer tube with said strings depending downward and being loosely disposed within said tube between said tampon and the inner wall of said tube, the free ends of said strings further extending thru the trailing end of said tube along with said withdrawal cord, the length of said strings and cord being substantially the same.

2. The combination of claim 1 in which said withdrawal cord has tactile means associated with its trailing end.

3. The combination of claim 1 in which said outer tube has indicia on its outer surface for identifying the radial disposition of said tampon therein.

4. The combination of claim 1 in which said manipulative strings are water soluble.

5. The combination of a transversely spreadable tampon and an inserter therefore; said inserter comprising an elongate open-ended outer tube and an inner plunger telescopically associated therewith, said tube having a leading end from which said tampon may be ejected and a trailing end provided with a gripping means at the base which is gripped by the user during insertion of the tube and tampon ejection, the wall of said tube having an aperture disposed therein adjacent and above said base; said tampon comprising a U- shaped absorbent element having a withdrawal cord attached to the bottom of the U and having a pair of manipulating strings attached near the top of the U, an end of one of said strings being attached near the terminus of one leg of said U and an end of the other of said strings being attached near the terminus of the other leg of said U; said tampon being disposed in said outer tube with the withdrawal cord depending downward and extending through the bottom end of said tube and said manipulating strings depending downward within said tube and being loosely disposed between said tampon and the wall of said tube, the free ends of said strings being threaded through said aperture and extending out of said aperture beyond said base.

6. The combination of claim wherein said aperture is perpendicular to a plane coincident with the plane defining the face of said U.

7. The combination of claim 5 wherein said manipulative strings are water-soluble.

8.'The combination of a transversely spreadable tampon and an inserter therefor; said inserter comprising an elongate open-ended tube and an inner plunger telescopically associated therewith, said tube having a leading end from which said tampon may be ejected and a trailing end provided with a gripping means at the base which is gripped by the user during insertion of the tube and tampon ejection; said tampon comprising a U-shaped absorbent element having a withdrawal cord attached to the bottom of the U and having a pair of manipulating strings attached near the top of the U, an end of one of said strings being attached near the terminus of one leg of said U and an end of the other of said strings being attached near the terminus of the other leg of said U; said tampon being disposed in said outer tube with the withdrawal cord depending downward and extending through the bottom end of said tube and said manipulating strings depending downward within said tube and being loosely disposed between said tampon and the wall of said tube, the free ends of said strings extending between the base of said tube and said plunger, and said plunger being provided with a longitudinal groove coincident with said strings whereby said strings are loosely disposed therein.

9. The combination of claim 8 wherein said gripping means has indicia means disposed above said groove.

10. The combination of claim 8 wherein said manipulative strings are watersoluble.

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Classifications
U.S. Classification604/15, 604/904, 604/385.18, 604/364
International ClassificationA61F13/20, A61F13/26
Cooperative ClassificationY10S604/904, A61F13/26, A61F13/2051
European ClassificationA61F13/20C, A61F13/26