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Enzymatic Degradation of Cervical Mucus for Improved Performance in Absorbent Products

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000032016D
Publication Date: 2004-Oct-19
Document File: 3 page(s) / 100K

Publishing Venue

The IP.com Prior Art Database

Abstract

Disposable absorbent articles are commonly designed to absorb or contain exudates from wearers of the articles. Menstrual fluid is one such exudate. A component of menstrual fluid that can inhibit the intake of menstrual fluid into an absorbent product is cervical mucus. Enzymatic candidates are proposed for the liquefaction of cervical mucus and several product configurations are discussed. For example, in one embodiment, the improved product may be a feminine care article (e.g., a sanitary napkin) in which one or more specifically selected enzymes (e.g., amylases) present in cervical mucus or semen have been added to a selected component of the article.

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Enzymatic Degradation of Cervical Mucus for Improved Performance in Absorbent Products

Disposable absorbent articles are commonly designed to absorb or contain exudates from wearers of the articles. Such exudates commonly include urine, fecal matter, menstrual discharge, and other liquid or semi-solid materials. Where the exudates are not fully liquid (i.e., free-flowing) in nature, the performance of the absorbent article may be compromised if the article is not capable of taking in the non-liquid components of the exudates. The article may leak, or may need to be replaced before the article's fluid capacity is reasonably well utilized.

One component of menstrual fluid that can inhibit the intake of menstrual fluid into an absorbent product is cervical mucus. Cervical mucus is a gelatinous, proteinacious complex that has generally poor flow properties, being both viscous and elastic in nature. As a result, cervical mucus can clog the pores and passages through which fluid would flow into an absorbent feminine care product. Subsequent menstrual fluid must then travel to a different location of the product in order to be absorbed, such as along the interface between the product and the body. Equally possible is leakage of the menstrual fluid onto the woman's undergarments or clothing. A further aesthetic disadvantage can be a relatively messy, discolored surface when the product is removed, as well as excessive residual menstrual fluid remaining on the woman's skin.

Various technologies have been proposed to address the product performance and aesthetic issues raised by the presence of cervical mucus in menstrual fluid. For example, the complex, hydrated structure of cervical mucus may be broken down by various mechanisms. This degradation can be beneficial to reduce the viscosity and increase the flowability of menstrual fluid. Examples of such technologies are described in U.S. patent 6,060,636 and PCT publications WO 01/45757 and WO 01/91684. The described technologies include chemical and/or enzymatic approaches to modify the rheological properties of cervical mucus and/or menstrual fluid, or to modify the interaction dynamics of menstrual fluid with an absorbent product. Such approaches have been proposed for use in feminine care products, such as by application to materials used in the products, or by incorporation into polymer melts or spin dopes used to make the materials.

One issue that must generally be considered in structural modification or liquefaction of cervical mucus is the effect of the modifying agent on the female body. Individual products used for absorption of menstrual fluid are often worn for hours at a stretch, and the uninterrupted use of such products generally spans several days during a woman's cycle. The products are therefore in prolonged contact with sensitive skin and mucus membranes. As a result, any irritant or sensitizing nature in the modifying agent poses an increased risk of skin irritation fo...