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A Comparison of the Effects of Organic Cotton and Rayon Blend Tampons on Vaginal Cytokines

Principal Investigator: Heather Zwickey, PhD & Carolyn Nygaard, ND

The lower female genital tract comprises a dynamic system that is influenced by hormonal changes related to the menstrual cycle, contraception, pregnancy, and lactation. Additionally, it is influenced by the blood and tissue products introduced during menses and parturition, by a diverse population of microorganisms, and by vaginal products that include tampons. Inflammation in the cervicovaginal lining increases susceptibility to different infections and becomes a serious liability for vaginal products.

Organic cotton tampons will be compared to rayon or rayon blend tampons at three time-points: pre-menstruation, during menstruation, and post menstruation. Inflammatory cytokines (IL-6, IL-8, TNF-alpha) will be collected in two ways, directly from the tampon, and vaginal lavage. This study is designed to compare Th1 (IFN-gamma) versus Th2 (IL-4, IL-5, IL-13) cytokines in order to determine if organic cotton tampons induce different cytokines than similar absorbency and size rayon blend tampons with regards to vaginal inflammation.