10 Fascinating Facts About The History Of Your Period

Posted: 10 February 2013

Categories: Blog

With all the variety and availability of discreet tampons and sleek winged disposable pads that we, the modern ladies are blessed to use every single time during menstruation, it’s easy to take all of it for granted.

Let’s take a look at some interesting facts on the history of menstruation and develop an insight into how women prior to this modern technological era dealt with their periods and learn something about the monthly cycle you may not know about.

#1. Women in a modern industrialized society on average menstruates 450 times in her life, which is 9 times more than prehistoric women and today, women in agrarian areas menstruate about 150 times in a lifetime.
[Livoti, Dr. Carol and Elizabeth Topp. 2004]

#2. Ancient Greeks believed that menstruation was the body’s way of removing diseased blood and came up with bloodletting that supposedly mimicked a woman’s period and was prescribed for all kinds of diseases for centuries which caused more harm than health. [Graham Ford]

#3. In premodern cultures, menstruation huts were used for a place where women were separated from the community during their periods for various reasons ranging from fear to respect. [Grahn, Judy. 1993]

#4. Scientists have suggested that premodern women, who had experienced no artificial night lighting, ovulated with the full moon and menstruated on a new moon. [Grahn, Judy. 1993]

#5. At one point in history, women who complained of menstrual cramps were sent for psychiatric evaluation because menstrual cramps were viewed as a rejection of one’s femininity. [Delaney, Lupton, and Toth. 1988]

#6. Menstruation may have influenced humanity’s sense of time as most early lunar calendars were based on the length of a women’s menstrual cycle. [Grahn, Judy. 1993]

#7. In some parts of India, women had to wear a handkerchief stained with their menstrual blood around their necks to indicate that they were menstruating. [Grahn, Judy. 1993]

#8. Egyptian women used softened papyrus as rudimentary tampons. The Greeks used lint wrapped around small pieces of wood. Dr. Earle Haas invented the modern tampon in 1929 which was called a ‘catamenial device’ or ‘monthly device’.

#9. During the First World War, nurses in France realized that the cellulose bandages used on wounded soldiers absorbed blood much better than plain old cotton that they started to use them during their periods.

#10. In the early twentieth century, American and British women had originally used menstrual napkins made of bird’s-eye-weave cloth, the same material often used for baby diapers. These were homemade pads which they were obliged to wash and reuse. [Delaney, Lupton, and Toth. 1988]

Additional facts:

#11. In 1929, Dr. Earle Haas invented a “modern” tampon which was called a ‘catamenial device’ or ‘monthly device’. This tampon looks like a “teabag” and can be inserted into the body with a handy applicator. You can still find this rather old-fashioned tampon in retail shops under the brand Tampax.

#12. After the Second World War, Germany was destroyed and in need of almost anything to start over again. This included menstrual protection that required absorbent materials in the manufacturing of sanitary pads. This was the time when Dr. Carl Hahn in collaboration with Heinz Mittag and gynaecologist, Dr. Judith Esser developed the digital tampons that can be inserted into the body without the aid of any applicator.

When these tampons were finally marketed out to the German public in 1950, conservative circles and traders slammed tampons as immoral and women were understandably reserved about the latest feminine hygiene product and mistakenly believed that the tampons could disappear inside of them.

Education about tampons and awareness concerning the female anatomy and menstruation advocated gradually removed the fear and within the first year of sales, digital tampons became a bestseller.
Until now, digital tampons remain as the most advanced type of tampons and outperform “teabag” and other types of tampon by far. Today, billions of digital tampons (also available in applicator) are sold every year worldwide.

Please share this article with your friends if you find it interesting. And do leave a comment below, if you have something to add. We'd love to hear from you.

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Reader Comments

Alex on 19 Feb 2013 at 07:42
Some very interesting history there!

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