When Aunt Flo Comes to Town: The History of Feminine Hygiene Products
Toxic shock syndrome is caused by a toxin produced by some types of staphylococcus bacteria…The earliest cases of toxic shock syndrome involved women who used tampons during their menstrual periods. However, today less than one half of cases are linked to tampon use – Medline Plus
In the United States alone, feminine hygiene products represent a $5.9 billion industry. Its global worth is approximately $35.4 billion and is expected to exceed $40 billion in the next three years.
There are three main types of menstrual management products – tampons, sanitary napkins and menstrual cups – as well as complementary items such as feminine wipes.
The history of tampons dates back as far as ancient Egypt. Medical records described tampons made from materials from the papyrus plant. In the fifth century B.C. Greek women created tampons by wrapping lint around a small piece of wood.
The Romans used wool and women in other countries used natural materials such as paper, grass and vegetable fibers.
In the 17th century, European women used sponges and cotton wadding during their periods. By the 18th and 19th centuries, tampons looked more like what women use today.
In 1929 Dr Earle Haas invented and patented the applicator tampon. The tampon was a tightly bound strip of absorbent cotton attached to a string. The applicator tube kept the tampon clean and allowed insertion without the user touching it.
German gynecologist Dr. Judith Esser-Mittag developed a non-applicator tampon in the 1940s. Her design became popular due its small and discrete size.
The most commonly used feminine hygiene product are sanitary napkins. They are simple to use and easy to buy in supermarkets and drugstores.
Nurses in France came up with the idea of disposable napkins when they were looking for new ways to stop excessive bleeding in soldiers injured in battle. The first sanitary napkins were made from wood pulp bandages, a very absorbent yet cheap material.
The idea was then taken by commercial manufacturers and women could buy disposable sanitary napkins in the late 1880s. These napkins were very expensive and they were impractical and uncomfortable. They were made from a thick, bulky rectangle of cotton, wool or other absorbent material and then attached to a belt with two loops.
Later, manufacturers of sanitary napkins replaced the loops and belts with an adhesive strip that was placed on the bottom of napkin. This meant women could attach them directly to their underwear.
The disposable sanitary napkins available today are made from bleached synthetic material. However, reusable cloth menstrual napkins are gaining popularity, particularly with women who are environmentally conscious or are sensitive to the chemicals in disposable products.
An average women uses at many as 11,000 to 16,000 pads or tampons in a lifetime. To combat the waste problem that comes with disposable feminine hygiene products, women are turning to reusable menstrual cups.
A menstrual cups is made from soft, flexible material and can be worn for up to 12 hours. It is then emptied (in the shower is easiest and cleanest), washed with soap, and used again.
Interestingly, the first prototypes of menstrual cups were patented as early as the 1860s and 70s, but they were never manufactured commercially.
In 1937 American actress Leona Chalmers patented a design of a menstrual cup made from latex rubber. Due to a shortage of latex rubber during World War II, production had to stop.
In the late 1960s, to compete with the emerging market of disposable feminine hygiene products, disposable menstrual cups were created. Reusable menstrual cups were reintroduced in the late 1980s.
Two decades later medical-grade silicone replaced latex in many cups. This meant that women with allergies could safely use menstrual cups.
Women have been using products to clean and deodorize their intimate areas for a long time, but individually-packaged wipes are an innovative new addition to the feminine hygiene market.
Feminine wipes help to refresh and keep intimate areas clean and sanitized. Wipes are much safer than deodorants, douches, powders and soaps, as they clean the outside of the intimate areas without disturbing the inner bacterial balance.
Wipes are one of the best feminine hygiene products to complement to whatever style of menstrual product you use. Feminine wipes can be used any time of the month.
As with any other feminine hygiene product, make sure the wipe you choose is made by a reputable company that complies with national safety standards and regulations and uses safe ingredients. Incorrect use or certain ingredients within some feminine hygiene products can cause discomfort, irritation and even infection.