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Publication numberUS3885563 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateMay 27, 1975
Filing dateJun 10, 1974
Priority dateJun 10, 1974
Publication numberUS 3885563 A, US 3885563A, US-A-3885563, US3885563 A, US3885563A
InventorsJohnson Russell L, Kaczmarzyk Leonard M, Skora Robert F
Original AssigneeKimberly Clark Co
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Spreadable tampon and inserter combination
US 3885563 A
The combination of a single fold tampon capable of being mechanically spread open by the user after insertion to form a transverse block within the vagina, and an inserter-spreader therefor. The tampon is folded in half to form two adjoining legs. A withdrawal string is attached at the fold. The outer extremity of the upper end portion of each leg is provided with a downwardly facing pocket. The inserter-spreader is provided with a pair of arms which fit into the pockets and may be operated by the user to mechanically spread apart the legs of the tampon within the vagina after insertion.
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Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

United States Patent [191 Johnson et a1.

[ SPREADABLE TAMPON AND INSERTER COMBINATION [75] Inventors: Russell L. Johnson, Weyauwega;

Leonard M. Kaczmarzyk, Menasha; Robert F. Skora, Neenah. all of Wis.

[73] Assignee: Kimberly-Clark Corporation,

Neenah, Wis.

[22] Filed: June 10,1974

[21] Appl. No.: 477,630

[52] US. Cl. 128/263; 128/270; 128/285; 128/269 [51] Int. Cl. A6lt' 13/20 [58] Field of Search 128/263, 270, 285, 130, 128/269 [56} References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 61,417 1/1867 Grant 128/285 688.188 12/1901 Magoris 128/270 [451 May 27, 1975 5/1959 MeynierJr 128/270 4/1960 Graham, Jr. et a1 128/263 {5 7] ABSTRACT The combination of a single fold tampon capable of being mechanically spread open by the user after insertion to form a transverse block within the vagina. and an inserterspreader therefor. The tampon is folded in half to form two adjoining legs. A withdrawal string is attached at the fold. The outer extremity of the upper end portion of each leg is provided with a downwardly facing pocket. The inserter-spreader is provided with a pair of arms which fit into the pockets and may be operated by the user to mechanically spread apart the legs of the tampon within the vagina after insertion.

10 Claims, 10 Drawing Figures PATENTED HAYZ? I975 SHEET Illll'lll FIG.2

FIG. 3

SPREADABLE TAMPON AND INSERTER COMBINATION BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION It has long been recognized that the cross-sectional dimensions of the vagina in its normal collapsed state are much wider in the transverse plane than in the vertical plane. It would be desirable therefore, when considering a tampon structure for use in absorbing vaginal exudates such as menstrual fluids, to design a tampon which can be easily spread transversely immediately after insertion into the vaginal passageway. While this is a desired objective it is difficult to achieve because of the size limitations imposed primarily by insertion requirements. The vaginal orifice is normally much smaller than the interior dimensions of the vaginal passageway which a tampon is expected to seal against leakage, accordingly the size of a tampon which can be inserted without physical discomfort is severely limited. In order to meet these requirements. tampons now in general use generally comprise small cylindrical plugs about one-half inch to three-eighths inch in diameter and about 2 inches to 2- /inches in length. These tampons are usually formed from a much larger batt of absorbent fibers, the batt being compressed to a small self-sustaining form in the sizes mentioned above. As body discharged fluids are absorbed by the tampons these compressed batts are expected to re-expand to ward their precompressed size and become large enough when expanded to effectively block the vaginal passageway 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 an effective block in the transverse direction 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. In view of the small size of the tampon at the time of insertion, it appears that fluid bypass or leakage can occur most easily immediately following the time of insertion. Further, because of the reduced size limitations imposed by the insertion or comfort requirements it has been found when the tampon is fully re-expanded effective leakage control is difficult to achieve.

More effective utilization of the available absorptive capacity of a tampon would be achieved if some way could be devised to provide means to expand or spread a tampon in the transverse dimension immediately after insertion. Such expansion should preferably be independent of the fluid absorption requirement, and preferably coincident with insertion. It should also be independent of whether or not the tampon body is in compressed form at the time of insertion. Folded leaf springs or other resilient and expandable means interiorl disposed in folded tampons have been suggested, but one disadvantage arising from using such means is that while these resilient means serve to hold the tampon in spread condition when the tampon is worn, the tampon should preferably be capable of being returned to its folded or relaxed state for removal. In the case of internal springs there is no suitable means available for that purpose, and refolding occurs only when withdrawal forces are exerted against the base of the tampons during withdrawal. The sidewise pressure exerted by the internal spring during such withdrawal is undesirable. Further, if the spring is made so weak that it will readily refold, it usually does not have sufficient resilience to be able to span the vaginal tract effectively without assistance.

The present invention is directed to a tampon structure adapted to be conveniently spread transversely within the vagina by means of an exteriorly operated insertion device to provide an immediate transverse expansion and an accompanying block against fluid leakage along the sides of the vaginal passageway. The tampon is not biased transversely by any mechanical means and therefore will easily return to its folded state during withdrawal.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION The tampon of this invention comprises an elongate absorbent pledget folded on itself into a u shaped to form a tampon with adjoining legs and having the withdrawal string attached at the fold formed at the base of the legs. In the improved tampon structure each of the legs of the folded tampon is provided at the upper end portion of the outer extremity of the leg with a pocket having a downwardly facing opening. Each of these pockets is designed to receive the manipulatable arms of a device adapted to transversely spread these legs apart inside the vagina after insertion. One readily available spreading device which suits this purpose is a pair of surgical forceps. However, simpler and more economical single-use devices are preferred and described herein. The spreading device, with the tampon positioned on the spreadable arms thereof, is first employed to insert the tampon into the vaginal passageway to the desired depth. The arms are then operable from outside the vagina to spread the tampon legs apart to a comfortable width within the vagina, after which the spreading device is easily withdrawn. The spread legs of the tampon thus placed in the vagina are immediately effective in blocking the downward flow of fluids through the vagina as they are discharged from the cervix and thereby serve to prevent early leakage from the vaginal passageway.

The above and other advantages of the improved tampon will become apparent by reference to the following detailed description and accompanying drawings.


FIG. 1 is a side view of one embodiment of a tampon made in accordance with this invention.

FIG. 2 is a longitudinal section of FIG. 1.

FIG. 3 is a side view of the tampon of FIG. I in asso ciation with a pair of placement forceps.

FIG. 4 is a sectional view similar to that of FIG. 2 but showing another embodiment of a tampon in accordance with the invention.

FIG. 5 illustrates the tampon-forceps combination of FIG. 3 ready for insertion into the vaginal passageway with the latter partially shown in vertical longitudinal section represented in a simplified diagrammatic form.

FIG. 6 is similar to FIG. 4 and illustrates configuration of the tampon and forceps after full insertion into the vaginal passageway.

FIG. 7 illustrates the tampon in position in the vagina after the legs of the tampon are spread apart by manipulation of the forceps, with the vaginal passageway now shown in a simplified diagrammatic section that is transverse of the longitudinal axis of the vagina.

FIG. 8 is a perspective view of another type of insertion device for the tampon.

FIG. 9 is a side view of the insertion device of FIG. 7 with a tampon of this invention positioned thereon.

FIG. I is a view similar to FIG. 9 but with the tampon shown in a spread-open position obtained by inward manipulation of the rear portion of the insertion device.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION As shown in FIGS. 1, 2 and 3 of the drawings, the improved tampon 12 of this invention comprises an elongate batt of absorbent material folded in half to a general U-shape with the folded tampon having a pair of upwardly extending legs 14 and I6. A withdrawal string 18 is attached at the fold near the base of the legs. Disposed at the outer side of the forward extremity of each leg 14 and 16 are exterior pockets 20 and 22 respectively, with downward facing openings.

When being made ready for insertion, an insertion and spreading device such as a pair of surgical forceps 32 has the leading ends of its forward tong elements or spreadable arms 24 and 26 inserted into pcokets 20 and 22 respectively.

Forceps 32 is provided with gripping elements 33 and 34 which may be manipulated in a scissors-like movement to open arms 24 and 26 and thus spread tampon legs 14 and 16. When legs 14 and 16 are spread to a comfortable width the forceps are easily removed, the pressure of the vaginal walls on the tampon being sufficient to hold the tampon in place during withdrawal of the forceps.

The tampon body may be made of any suitable absorbent material such as absorbent cotton, wood fluff fiber, cellulose sponge, synthetic sponge, or the like. When the absorbent material is made of loose fiber batts it is usually wrapped in a fluid-pervious wrapper. The pockets on the side of each leg may be formed from the absorbent material itself; from a fluidpervious wrapper material such as is commonly used in tampon construction; or from a fluid-impervious film or the like.

The latter construction is shown in the section view of FIG. 4. In FIG. 4, the legs 14a and 160 are formed of absorbent material and laminated to the outside thereof is a layer of thin plastic film 17 such as polyethylene, polyvinyl chloride or the like. The used withdrawal string is also shown at 18a. In this embodiment, downwardly opened pockets 20a and 22:: are formed by cuffs made of the plastic film. This embodiment provides two additional advantages. The plastic film I7 which sheaths only the outer sides of the folded tampon eases insertion since it has a smooth slick surface. When the tampon is spread open after insertion the plastic film is disposed on the lower surface of the tampon where it acts as a fluid barrier and thus permits more of the effective capacity of the tampon to be utilized before removal.

In FIG. 5, the tampon-forceps combination of FIG. 3 is shown poised for insertion in vaginal passageway 40 at the end of which is located cervix 42.

In FIG. 6 the tampon-forceps combination of FIG. 3 is shown fully inserted.

In FIG. 7 the forceps have been opened as indicated by the directional arrows l3 and to spread apart the tampon legs 14 and 16 and thus deploy the legs across the transverse dimension of the vaginal cavity. Preferably legs 14 and 16 are spread sufficiently far apart to touch the side walls of the vaginal passageway below the cervix. However, any amount of spreading of the tampon legs which feels comfortable to the user may be employed and still provide improved leakage control when compared with a conventional tampon or one without mechanical spreading capabilities. The forceps or other insertion device may then be removed leaving the spread tampon in place.

In the spread position, legs 14 and 16 of the tampon effectively intercept substantially all of the menstrual fluids which may be discharged into the vaginal passageway through the cervix, and by so doing insure against early leakage problems.

The basic improvement of this invention is the provision of what otherwise may be characterized as a conventional U-shaped or single-folded tampon with downward facing pockets at the upper leading end of each leg which pockets are adapted to receive exteriorly maneuverable elements of a suitable spreading device, thus enabling the tampon to be mechanically spread to its full effectiveness across the transverse plane of the vagina immediately after the tampon has been placed therein.

Many variations of this improved structure are possible. The pockets may be an integral part of the tampon body. The pockets may be composed of the tampon wrapper only, if such a wrapper is used in the tampon structure. The pockets may be comprised ofa stockinglike mesh material if desired. The tampon body itself need not be compressed as is necessary with most present day tampons, since the insertion device provides a positive delivery system which does not need the rigidity of a compressed tampon structure to support itself during insertion. However, compressed material may be used for the tampon when larger capacity is required. In such case the fluid dependent delay in reexpanding the compressed material will not be detrimental as in the case of conventional compressed tampons, because the mechanical spreading achieved at time of insertion provides an effective block. As noted earlier, any of the usual absorbent materials may be used in the improved tampon construction.

The deployment of spreading device also may take on many variations. While the deploying device set forth in the specific examples above has been described as surgical forceps which are quite expensive and usually made of stainless steel, it is preferable that the insertion device be constructed of relatively inexpensive plastic which then may be conveniently disposed of after a single or multiple use if desired. The surgical style forceps may be made of plastic, for example. However, a much more simplified device and its method of use are shown in FIGS. 8-10. As shown therein, the device 49 comprises a one-piece element of flexible spring-like material such as polypropylene, polyethylene or the like having two substantially parallel arms 50 connected at their base by an arcuately shaped flexible portion 51 from which said arms extend. Portions 53 of the arms, spaced from said arcuate base 51 a substantial distance, diverge inwardly from parallel alignment to cross each other and then revert back to their parallel alignment where the free ends form a pair of finger-like extensions 54. The cross-over portion thus is in the form of an X with extensions on each end. The lower extensions are joined at the bottom to form a U at 51 and the upper extensions 54 have free ends for insertion in the pockets.

When extensions 54 are inserted into pockets 20 and 22 of tampon 12 as shown in FIG. 9, the tampon is ready for insertion.

After insertion, inward finger pressure exerted against arms 50 in the directions shown by arrows 63 and 64 in FIG. will cause extensions 54 to diverge and to spread apart legs 14 and 16 of the tampon as in dicated by arrows 65 and 66. At this stage finger pressure is relaxed slightly and the insertion device is easily withdrawn leaving the spread tampon in place.

The outside portion of arms 50 of insertion device 49 may be provided with grooves 60 or some other rough ened surface to aid in gripping. It may also have grooves 61 at each end of arcuate base 51 to facilitate the inward flexing action used to spread the tampon.

When the insertion device 49 is made of molded polyethylene or other like plastics, it is sufficiently low in cost so that one device may be included with each tampon and discarded after use. A light metal construction may also be used. When a low cost element is used, each combination of tampon and insertion device may be enclosed in an individual wrapper to preserve its hygienic condition.

What is claimed is:

l. The combination of a tampon particularly adapted to be transversely spread within the vagina at the time of insertion and an inserter device adapted for inserting and spreading said tampon; said tampon comprising an elongate absorbent member folded on itself to form a pair of adjoining, upwardly extending legs and having a withdrawal string attached near the base of said legs; the upper end portion of each of said legs being provided with an open pocket disposed on the exterior side thereof with the open end of each of said pockets facing downwardly; said inserter comprising an elongate device provided with a grip portion at one end and a tampon delivery portion at the other end; the tampon delivery portion comprising a pair of generally parallel extensions adapted for movement away from each other by manual operation of said grip portion; the extensions of said tampon delivery portion being disposed in the pockets of said tampon whereby manipulation of said grip portion will spread apart the legs of said tampon.

2. The tampon and inserter combination of claim I wherein said inserter comprises a pair of surgical forceps.

3. The tampon and inserter combination of claim l wherein said inserter comprises a pair of surgical forceps and said forceps are made of flexible plastic.

4. The tampon and inserter combination of claim I wherein the tampon is comprised of absorbent fibers enclosed in a fluid pervious wrapper.

5. The tampon and inserter combination of claim 1 wherein the tampon is of highly compressed absorbent material.

6. The tampon and inserter combination of claim 1 wherein the tampon in its folded configuration has its exterior sides surfaced by a plastic film and said film is also employed to form the pockets.

7. The tampon and inserter combination of claim 1 wherein said inserter comprises a one piece element of flexible material having two substantially parallel arms, said arms being connected at their base by a flexible segment, said arms being bent to cross over each other a substantial distance from said base and ending in parallel extensions beyond said crossover.

8. The tampon and inserter combination of claim 7 wherein said inserter is comprised of flexible plastic.

9. The tampon and inserter combination of claim 8 wherein said plastic is molded polyethylene.

10. The tampon and inserter combination of claim 8 wherein said plastic is molded polypropylene.

Patent Citations
Cited PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US61417 *Jan 22, 1867 grant
US688188 *May 18, 1901Dec 3, 1901Anthony E MagorisTampon.
US2884925 *Jul 26, 1956May 5, 1959Meynier Jr Maurice JTampon and depositor
US2934068 *Jun 21, 1956Apr 26, 1960Personal Products CorpTow tampon
Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US4306555 *Apr 15, 1980Dec 22, 1981Barbara RitterApplicator swab and method of making the same
US4755166 *Dec 18, 1986Jul 5, 1988Kimberly-Clark CorporationMulti-fingered tampon applicator combination
US6095998 *Jul 29, 1998Aug 1, 2000The Procter & Gamble CompanyExpandable bag tampon and spreading tampon applicator therefor
US6302861 *Jul 29, 1998Oct 16, 2001The Procter & Gamble CompanySpreading tampon applicator
US6695763Jan 2, 2002Feb 24, 2004Kimberly-Clark Worldwide, Inc.Incontinence insert device and method of using same
US7815593 *Jan 12, 2007Oct 19, 2010Peter James Brian LambDevice for introducing an object into a vagina with sanitary finger mounting means
US8197434Apr 28, 2004Jun 12, 2012Playtex Products, Inc.Tampon assembly having shaped pledget
US20040243088 *Apr 28, 2004Dec 2, 2004Playtex Products, Inc.Tampon assembly having shaped pledget
US20070118067 *Jan 12, 2007May 24, 2007Lamb Peter J BDevice For Introducing An Object Into A Vagina With Sanitary Finger Mounting Means
US20070167902 *Mar 5, 2007Jul 19, 2007Playtex Products, Inc.Tampon assembly having shaped pledget
US20130081975 *Sep 30, 2011Apr 4, 2013Elizabeth LincolnGripping Utensil Kit
WO2003059227A2 *Dec 19, 2002Jul 24, 2003Kimberly Clark CoIncontinence insert device and method of using same
U.S. Classification604/14
International ClassificationA61F13/20, A61F13/26
Cooperative ClassificationA61F13/2051, A61F13/26
European ClassificationA61F13/20C, A61F13/26