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Menstrual Hygiene Day 2022: Using Moss & Grass To Sandy DIY Pads, History Of Menstruation Before Disposable Pads & Tampons

Women have used sand, moss, grass and wood to prevent the soiling of clothes during menstruation. 
  • Krati Purwar
  • Editorial
Published -27 May 2022, 11:58 ISTUpdated -28 May 2022, 11:55 IST
tampons and pads history

Menstrual Hygiene Day 2022: World Menstruation Day is here, and we cannot hold back but turn the pages of history when women used to deal with bloody days without having handy products like sanitary pads and tampons. While today, we cannot imagine our lives without menstrual products, it amazes us how women in the past lived through periods.

This article will talk about the alternatives that women used during periods to prevent staining their clothes. We will also discuss in brief how these menstrual products evolved.

Ancient History Of Sanitary Pads

A menstruating woman is not a new concept. The anatomy of a woman has always been the same. Thus, we have been menstruating since our inception on this planet. The earliest records of a menstruating rag belong to a 4th-century Greek mathematician. Apparently, she threw the rag at her admirer after failing to shoo him away.

The early records also talk of cheap and widely available options that women used to line their undergarments. In China, women used to wrap sand in a cloth pouch and use it as a pad. The idea behind all such menstruating products is to absorb the blood and prevent the soiling of clothes.

According to the book, Flow: The Cultural Story Of Menstruation, women in America made pads using buffalo skin and moss. All these descriptions and proofs mention only natural items that were used to craft pads that could help women get through those uncomfortable days.

In India, women used to wrap layers of cotton in a cloth piece and use it as a pad. Some just used a cloth piece and used to wash it now and then. It was unhygienic, but many had no other choice.

History Of Tampons As Contraception

menstrual cramps

Even for tampons, the early record is found in Egyptian descriptions. They were made from the papyrus plant. According to Hippocrates, Greek women in the 5th century used fashioned tampons using lint and a small piece of wood.

In Japan, women made tampons with paper. They used to hold it in place using a bandage and had to change it at least 10 times a day. The CNA Lifestyle report says that Romans and Egyptians fashioned the product using the dung of crocodiles and elephants. They used it as contraception.

History Of First Disposable Napkins

European and American women had a DIY approach to pads until the 1880s. It was the 1890s when the first disposable pads were seen in the markets. According to CNA Lifestyle, French nurses inspired these pads. They used the absorbent wood pulp to stuff pads and apply them to the affected area to stop bleeding on the battlefields.

In 1896, Johnson and Johnson’s Lister’s Towels came, but it did not gain much popularity among women because the advertising of such products was frowned upon. Curads, another brand that tried to sell pads in 1920, faced the same issue.

However, in 1921, Kimberly-Clark convinced women in America to ask for pads in the market by the name Kotex. It is short for a cotton-like texture. Since then, Kotex is a synonym for sanitary pads.

Another kind was the great-grand-daddy of sanitary pads. Its construction was similar to wrapping a ball of cotton wool in a net with loops on both ends. Women used to have trouble with its stability and used a belt to keep them in place.

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Modern-Day Sanitary Pads And Tampons

sanitary pads for women

The history of sticky and modern-day sanitary pads dates to the 1980s. Soon we got disposable pads with wings, and we all are aware of the fresh fragrance and odour-locking mechanism.

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In 1929, Dr Earle Haas created tampons with applicators. He patented his invention and sold the rights to Gertrude Tendrich, a businesswoman who started Tampax. In the 1940s, a German Gynaecologist, Judith Esser-Mittag, is also known to have created tampons with applicators. 

From bizarre DIY menstrual products to hygienic and comfortable pads and tampons, women across the globe have endured a lot due to menstruation. They have fought social stigmas and asserted their rights to dignity while bleeding. Stay tuned to HerZindagi for more such stories!

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Your skin and body like you are unique. While we have taken all measures to ensure that the information provided in this article and on our social media channels is credible and expert verified, we recommend you consult a doctor or your dermatologist before trying a home remedy, quick hack or exercise regime. For any feedback or complaint, reach out to us at compliant_gro@jagrannewmedia.com