The History of Period Products

Periods have always been a part of a person with a healthy uterus. Today, we have many options available to bridle the natural blood flow. The day you start your monthly cycle, you have various options as your menstrual product. Allegedly it has never been an easier time in history to have your periods like it is today. Having said that, people, mostly women due to the lack of social liberalism, had shorter periods as compared to the women of 20 century. In those times, the ideal body type was not as petite, and hence it resulted in fewer days of the menstrual cycle. 

Women who lived their lives mostly before the 20th century were married at a very young age and spent most days, being pregnant, breastfeeding, etc. which cut down the total time of menstruation. 

Due to the shorter lifespan of an average human, women didn’t even experience menopause. Although, it does make us wonder how women used to manage their periods in those times. 


Women generally used any material that was comfortable and could hold the flow in for as long as possible. Rabbit Skin, Grass, wool, cotton were some of the earlier preferred materials that women stuffed in their undergarments. 1850 was the time when many were focused on creating patented menstrual products. One such product was a menstrual apron. A slight piece of rubber was placed in the butt area so that it could stop the blood flow when you sit down. Although, it was cumbersome, uncomfortable, and promoted foul smell. 


Nurses of France created the very first sanitary pad. They made a bandage from wood pulp to absorb excessive blood flow during battles. The usage of wood pulp made the bandage affordable and hence disposable. Johnson and Johnson took inspiration from the design and introduced the very first sanitary pad in America called Lister’s Towels. Although the name of the product made it hard for a woman to ask for it in public shops. Hence, Lister’s Towels were relaunched with the name Nupak. 


Kotex launched the very first sanitary pads made of cellulose (cotton acrylic blend). They were priced at 5 cents per pad. The sanitary pads were targeted to the wealthy white women who could afford to go to a departmental store to purchase it. There was a separate box where one could place the coin and pick the pad for themselves in order to avoid any awkward interactions with the salesman. 


Soon after, a patent for the very first menstrual belt was issued. The belt helped in keeping the pad in place due to the lack of adhesive at the back of the pad. 


Leona Chalmers, an American actress, launched the very first patented menstrual cup. The cup wasn’t a massive success as people didn’t want to deal with anything bloody. Some also avoided it because it required to be inserted in the vagina.


Dr. Earle Hass launched the modern tampon and marketed it with the name Tampax. The tampon was made of cardboard with cotton on the other end and an applicator attached. 


Stayfree launched the belt-free pads and introduced the adhesive for the very first time. The launch of these pads changed the face of the industry. Women went gaga over it, and it quickly became a huge hit. 


Rely tampon launched the tampons made of polyester from the outside. The polyester would absorb blood and formed cubes, which increased the absorption level of the tampon. However, a certain accumulation of bacteria also caused Toxic Shock Syndrome to many. 


The very first birth control pill was advertised as the means of skipping periods. These pills were FDA-approved with the tagline, “Why bother having a period if you don’t need to?”


2017 saw the shift of harmful menstrual products to more organic ones. People focused on what they used for their bodies and the environment. Sanitary pad made with organic material, grew in popularity. 

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