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What Do Tampon Absorbency Ratings Mean?


Updated May 06, 2014

Question: What Do Tampon Absorbency Ratings Mean?
The FDA regulates tampon absorbency ratings. By using the lowest tampon absorbency rating during your period, you can help reduce your risk of getting toxic shock syndrome, or TSS.
Answer: Because there are so many brands of tampons to choose from, the FDA has developed the following tampon absorbency rating terms:

  • Light absorbency tampons which means that these tampons absorb 6 grams of blood or less. Light absorbency tampons are good for the last days of your period when your blood flow is lowest.
  • Regular absorbency tampons hold from six to nine grams. Many women find that regular absorbency tampons are good for most of the days of their periods.
  • Super absorbency tampons hold from nine to 12 grams of menstrual blood. Super absorbency tampons provide the extra absorption that some women need the first day or two of menstruation.
  • Super plus absorbency tampons can absorb between 12 to 15 grams of blood. Some women who experience extra heavy bleeding at the beginning of their periods may need to use super plus absorbency tampons.
  • Ultra absorbency tampons absorb from 15 to 18 grams of menstrual blood. Most women will never need to use ultra absorbency tampons.
Although tampons that absorb more than 18 grams of menstruation are available, there is no absorbency rating term for these tampons. If you need to use this type of tampon, you should talk to your doctor about the amount of blood flow you experience during menstruation.


FDA; Labeling for Menstrual Tampons; http://www.fda.gov/OHRMS/DOCKETS/98fr/04-19488.htm; accessed 01/28/08.

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