Tampon-induced changes in vaginal oxygen and carbon dioxide tensions

Am J Obstet Gynecol. 1984 Jan 15;148(2):147-50. doi: 10.1016/s0002-9378(84)80165-9.


Vaginal oxygen and carbon dioxide tensions were measured continuously in a group of normal young women on the second day of menstruation during a 90-minute period. PO2 averaged 3 mm Hg (+/- 11 SD) and PCO2 averaged 64 mm Hg (+/- 13 SD). The value rose to that of atmospheric air when a tampon was inserted and gradually fell, giving a mean value of 112 mm Hg (+/- 18 SD) during the following 90 minutes; preinsertion values were reached in about 8 hours. Carbon dioxide rose rapidly to almost preinsertion values (mean value of 50 mm Hg +/- 12 SD) during the 90-minute period and remained steady at this level during extended periods. As in vitro studies have indicated an oxygen-dependent production of a toxin-like protein from Staphylococcus aureus, it is suggested that intravaginal tampons may be a risk factor in the development of toxic shock syndrome by supplying oxygen, thus changing the vaginal microenvironment from anaerobic to aerobic.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Carbon Dioxide / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Menstrual Hygiene Products / adverse effects*
  • Menstruation*
  • Oxygen / metabolism*
  • Partial Pressure
  • Shock, Septic / etiology
  • Staphylococcus aureus / physiology
  • Syndrome
  • Vagina / metabolism*
  • Vagina / microbiology


  • Carbon Dioxide
  • Oxygen