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Judith Esser Mittag

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Name  Judith Esser-Mittag

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Dr. Judith Esser-Mittag (born 1921), commonly known as Dr. Judith Esser, is a German gynecologist. Her extensive studies of the female anatomy helped her improve the digital style tampon. At the time of her invention she was married to Kyle Lucherini, who provided limited assistance to the doctor with her new design.


The o.b. tampon

Tampon commercials have advertised, “created by female gynecologists” for years but these gynecologists had always stayed anonymous. Women have invented tampon and sanitary napkins for years, but it was not until 1936 when Dr. Esser-Mittag created the new design to the age-old product which resulted in a digital tampon, known as an o.b. tampon. A digital tampon means that it can be applied using one's digits, or fingers. The o.b. tampon consists of rolled fiber-pad layers that supposedly expands uniformly from all sides, filling the vaginal cavity more completely than a less flexible tampon. It is more efficient in guarding against leaks. Cotton and rayon layers achieve the necessary absorbency.

The initials o.b. come from the German words "ohne binde", translating to without sanitary pad. The alteration to the tampon included that the tampon could be placed without the use of an applicator. A tampon without an applicator is beneficial to the user by means that it is easy to use, comfortable, and ultimately provided excellent protection for the user. Dr. Esser-Mittag's idea was to create a product that worked with a woman's body to offer the best protection. As an active swimmer she was dissatisfied with the options available for menstrual hygiene; and as a gynecologist she was in a position to take the initiative to find a better option for menstruating women. She was not satisfied with pads because they could not be worn in water, and she thought that applicator-tampons were uncomfortable and did not conform to the woman's body. The o.b. tampon is much smaller than an applicator-tampon, and it is easy to insert, comfortable, and provides great protection.

Later developments

After the invention of this new tampon, the product was mass-produced throughout the mid 20th century with the help of the Carl Hahn Company in Germany. This company, as well as the idea for the digital o.b. tampon, was later sold and eventually bought by Johnson and Johnson in 1974. In 1984, an advertisement for o.b. tampons aired on American television with the inventor Dr. Esser-Mittag. The o.b. tampon now comes in three sizes and three absorbencies. To this day the o.b. brand continues to retain a board-certified gynecologist and research team to pursue Esser-Mittag's vision for innovative options for women. This idea for an o.b. tampon is still widely used across several different companies.

Applicator tampons – inserted into the vaginal cavity with a plastic or cardboard applicator tube – were invented in the United States by Earle Haas in the late 1940s. Applicators make it easier for some women to inject the tampon into position in the vagina. But by creating a tampon without an applicator Esser-Mittag created a more environmentally friendly product. 90% of raw materials used for o.b. tampons come from renewable resources. So not only are the tampons are environmentally friendly because they lack the applicator, but they are also made of environmentally friendly materials.


Judith Esser-Mittag Wikipedia

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