All your Kotex® questions answered
Q. When were Kotex® feminine pads invented?
A. In hospitals and first aid stations during World War I, Kimberly-Clark's cellulose wadding often replaced cotton, which was in short supply. Through the ingenuity of army nurses, the wadding was adapted for menstrual purposes.
In 1920, Kotex® was introduced as Kimberly-Clark's first consumer product. Short, easy to say and remember, the name was derived from the words "cotton texture."
Q. What materials are used to make Kotex® products?
A. Maxi Pads and Lightdays® Pantiliners are made mostly of wood cellulose fibers, the same raw materials paper is made from. The fibers are "fluffed" to make the material absorbent and soft. The outer cover and the moisture-proof shields are made with a moisture-proof plastic to help minimize leakage. Kotex® Security® Tampons are made from a blend of natural cotton and synthetic rayon, with a moisture-proof, plastic cover.
Q. How do I know which Kotex® product is right for me?
A. Body shape, activity level and lifestyle vary from woman to woman. Which is why there are so many Kotex® products to choose from. To see the products that will fit and protect you best, please click here.
Q. Which Kotex® products are best for teens?
A. To choose the right Kotex® products, many factors need to be taken into consideration. While many teens prefer Security® Tampons, Thin Maxi Pads or Ultra Thin Maxi Pads, you can find the right style, coverage and features to best fit your body by clicking here.
Q. How often do I need to change my Maxi Pad?
A. Usually every four to six hours is fine. If you have a heavy flow, you might need to change it more often. When the pad is almost saturated, it's time to change. Even if you have a light flow, you should still change frequently for cleanliness. The blood from your body is clean, but once it hits the air and accumulates on your Maxi Pad, odors can develop.
Q. How do I dispose of a used Maxi Pad, Lightdays® pantiliner or Security® Tampon?
A. Wrap it in bathroom tissue and put it in the trash.
Q. What are tampons and how do I use them?
A. Tampons are small rolls of absorbent material that are inserted in the vagina to absorb menstrual flow. They come in different absorbencies. If you use a tampon, you should use the minimum absorbency necessary to manage your menstrual flow on a given day. Kotex® Security® Tampons have smooth applicators that make them easy to insert. You throw away the applicator after you've put in the tampon. You remove tampons by pulling on the attached string, which hangs outside the body. It is important to change tampons at least every four to eight hours. Please see usage instructions on the tampon package for more detailed information. Tampons are associated with Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS), a very rare but serious disease. Studies indicate that higher absorbency tampons increase the risk of contracting TSS.
Q. When can I start using tampons?
A. After starting your period, you may begin using tampons as soon as you feel comfortable doing so. You might need to practice a few times until you feel confident that you are wearing the tampon properly.
Q. Can I leave my tampon in all day if I have a very light flow?
A. No. Toxic shock syndrome, although rare (and usually preventable), is a serious disease. The symptoms of TSS are a sudden high fever, vomiting, diarrhea, fainting, a rash that looks like sunburn, dizziness and muscle aches. If you experience any of these symptoms, take out your tampon and call your doctor immediately. In general, use the lightest-absorbency tampon you can and change it often – at least every four to eight hours. Or use pads. Actually, switching between tampons and pads is a good idea. And at night, pads are the way to go.
Q. If I use a tampon, will I still be a virgin?
A. A virgin is someone who hasn't had sexual intercourse. So if you've never had sexual intercourse and you use a tampon, then you are still a virgin. Using a tampon may (although not commonly) rupture your hymen, which is also ruptured the first time a woman has sexual intercourse. But contrary to myth, your hymen is not an indicator of your virginity. Plenty of virgins have barely noticeable hymens, and some non-virgins may have intact or stretched hymens.
Q. Why are plastic applicators used with Kotex® Security® Tampons?
A. Research has shown that many women prefer the comfort and ease-of-use of plastic applicator tampons.
Q. How can I get Kotex® coupons and free samples?
A. Periodically you can find coupons for Kotex® products in an insert section of the Sunday newspaper. And don't forget to check on or inside product packages for occasional discounts and special offers.
You can also sign up for Kotex® Extras for e-mail offers, special promotions, coupons, giveaways and more.
Q. I have heard that all-cotton tampons are safer than rayon/cotton tampons. Is that true?
A. Each component used to manufacture every Kotex® Security® Tampon is thoroughly evaluated to ensure that it is safe.
Furthermore, clinical studies have demonstrated that tampons with rayon and cotton are safe for their intended use, and both rayon and cotton have been used safely in tampons for many years. In fact, rayon has a safe history of use in medical applications such as absorbent gauze for wound and surgical dressings. Although there have been some concerns in the past about "superabsorbent" fibers in tampons, neither rayon nor cotton is a "superabsorbent" fiber.
In addition, several well-respected research scientists have conducted multiple laboratory studies on tampons made from cotton, rayon, and cotton/rayon fiber blends. These studies, conducted at independent laboratories and major universities including Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in New Hampshire and the University of Minnesota, have concluded that using cotton fibers instead of rayon fibers in tampons does not reduce the amount of TSS toxin produced. In other words, these studies refute the notion that all-cotton tampons are safer than tampons containing rayon.
Q. I have heard that tampons contain dioxin. Is that true?
A. Dioxin is found throughout the environment in trace amounts. Common sources of dioxin include combustion and incineration, industrial processes, and soil and river sediments. Dioxin can also be a byproduct of certain bleaching processes, such as chlorine bleaching. By contrast, materials used in Kotex® Security® Tampons are bleached using Elemental Chlorine Free (ECF) processes that significantly minimize the potential for dioxin formation during bleaching. Using extremely sensitive analytical studies based on EPA test methods, independent laboratories are unable to find any dioxin created by the bleaching process in Kotex® Security® Tampons. These tests measure amounts as low as one-half part per trillion. To put this into perspective, one part per trillion is equivalent to one drop of water in over 11 million gallons.
Q. What are the causes of Toxic Shock Syndrome?
A. TSS is caused by the bacterium called Staphylococcus Aureus, which exists normally in the nose, armpits, groin or vagina of about a third of the healthy population. Sometimes certain strains of this bacterium give off a toxin. Although scientific data suggest that tampon usage increases the risk of TSS, tampons themselves have not been found to cause TSS.
Q. What are the symptoms of TSS?
A. TSS symptoms appear very quickly and are often severe. They include a sudden high fever, vomiting, diarrhea, fainting, a rash that looks like sunburn, dizziness and muscle aches. But not all TSS cases are exactly alike, and not all of these symptoms are always present. If you start to show one or more of these symptoms during your menstrual period, take out your tampon if you're using one, and seek medical attention right away.
Q. What should I do if I have symptoms of TSS during my period?
A. Remove your tampon if you're using one. Get to a doctor immediately. Don't be afraid to suggest that you may have TSS. Your doctor will want to know what your symptoms are and when they started, when your period began, whether you've had TSS before, and what brand and absorbency of tampon you use.
Q. Is TSS treatable?
A. If it's caught early enough, TSS can be treated with antibiotics. Again, it has to be caught early on, so it's very important to get medical attention immediately if you start to show symptoms of TSS during your period.
Q. How can I reduce my risk of getting TSS?
A. Probably the single best thing you can do is use the lowest absorbency or size tampon that meets your menstrual flow needs. You may also be able to reduce your chance of getting TSS during menstruation by alternating tampon use with pad use.
Q. Why do some people get TSS and others don't?
A. Since TSS is caused by toxins from strains of bacteria, scientists believe that people who are susceptible to TSS simply don't have sufficient antibodies in their blood to neutralize those toxins. Other people, who do have enough antibodies, are more resistant to TSS.
Q. Can someone get TSS more than once?
A. Yes. In fact, someone who has had TSS is more likely to get it again than someone who's never had it. So if you've ever had TSS, it's important to talk with your doctor before you use tampons.
Q. Are young people more susceptible to TSS?
A. TSS can affect any person at any age. Menstrually related TSS does occur mostly among tampon users under age 30, especially those 15 to 19 years old. But don't worry; even in this group, TSS is extremely rare.
Q. Where can I learn more about TSS?
A. You can find TSS information in or on tampon packaging, as this is required by law. Also, ask your doctor for information. Finally, you can find more information by visiting the FDA's site on Tampons and Toxic Shock Syndrome.
Q. Is there any truth to the rumor that asbestos is added to tampons?
A. At no time, either past or present, have Kotex® Security® Tampons contained asbestos.
Q. Why are Kotex® Maxi Pads, Ultra Thin Pads, Lightdays® Liners and Security® Tampons individually wrapped?
A. Research has shown that women prefer individually wrapped feminine products. Individual wrapping keeps pads and tampons clean and sanitary. Plus it makes the product easier for you to carry in your pocket or purse.