A History of Menstrual Products:
- The first time historians saw menstrual hygiene products mentioned was around the 10th century A.D. Women used rags as pads and lint wrapped around a small piece of wood or used materials like moss, animal skins, and grass as tampons.
- By the early 1700s, most women would use old rags as pads and would wash and reuse them. A few other options were using sheepskin, boiling it clean with each use, or cheesecloth sacks stuffed with flattened cotton.
- In 1896 the first commercial sanitary pads, Lister’s Towels, went on sale. They failed to sell because women hated the thought of declaring to the public that they were menstruating by buying pads.
- French nurses in World War I figured out that Curad bandages were much more absorbent than their homemade menstrual rags and started using them as pads. In 1920 Curads by Kotex, worn with a re-usable belt, hit the market.
- The first commercial applicator tampon with a cord for removal was invented in 1929 by Dr Earle Haas under the name Tampax, hitting the market in 1936.
- The 1930s saw the invention and production of the first reusable menstrual cup. After becoming used to disposable products many women resisted a ‘backwards step’ in menstrual products.
- In the 1970s most companies started selling pads with adhesive backing, putting an end to the need for belts. Cloth pads made a comeback during this time as they saved money and were better for the environment.
- After the 1970s, the biggest change to sanitary pads and tampons was to become more discreet. Tampons got smaller, pads got thinner, and the packaging hid the products inside.