A tampon is a mass of absorbent material (typically cotton, rayon, or a mixture of the two) inserted into a body cavity or wound to absorb bodily fluid. The most common type in daily use (and the topic of the remainder of this article) is designed to be inserted into the vagina during menstruation to absorb the flow of menstrual fluid. Tampons are also used to absorb blood from nosebleeds. Several countriesincluding the United States, under the banner of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)regulate tampons as medical devices. In the United States, tampons are a Class II medical device. Tampon originated from the medieval French word tampion, meaning a piece of cloth to stop a hole, a stamp, plug, or stopper. The tampon has been in use as a medical device since the 18th century, when antiseptic cotton tampons treated with salicylates were used to stop the bleeding from bullet wounds.
Contributions by Joyous!, Pascal666, and Thalia.