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Eur J Obstet Gynecol Reprod Biol. 1989 Apr;31(1):53-65.

Study of the vaginal mucous membrane following tampon utilisation; aspect on colposcopy, scanning electron microscopy and transmission electron microscopy.

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Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Hotel Dieu, Lyon, France.


The effect of periodic tampons was studied in 17 young women during the menstrual and inter-menstrual cycle. Biopsies (n = 19) were analysed on scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and transmission electron microscopy (TEM). The effect of medium absorbant tampons was compared with that of super-absorbant tampons. On colposcopy, dryness was noted in 89% cases, peeling in 47% cases. Microulcerations were observed only once (5%). Dryness and peeling was most often encountered with the super-absorbant tampons and during the inter-menstrual phase. TEM revealed cellular destruction affecting all layers of the epithelium: lysis of superficial and intermediate cells, destruction of desmosomes accompanied by the creation of inter-cellular spaces, lipidic vacuoles in the lysed cells. SEM revealed epithelial peeling with cleavage and severe cellular desquamation. Cellular anomalies were common at the level of the cytoplasmic membrane, which presented either defects, a porous aspect, or appeared swollen by air-bubbles.

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