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11 Peculiar Period Products of the Past and Present

Avatar photo 9 years ago 7 minute read

Not all women have the privilege to wear the comforts of a sanitary menstrual pad or a tampon. Either by choice or by no choice at all, some women have to endure not only the discomfort of their monthly periods, they also have to go through some really uncomfortable procedures to keep their flow in control.

The idea of having a monthly period is always a source of displeasure to most women. For one, you bleed for three or more days. You have to sit or lie down straight so the blood does not overflow from the napkin or tampon. Even with the best efforts, there are times that the blood is just too stubborn and it overflows anyway. The only good thing about your period; perhaps, is that it indicates that you are not pregnant.

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Back in the past, and even today, there are women who have not had the luck of using a sanitary menstrual pad or a tampon. Yes, in some places, these things not been around for long.

Consider yourself lucky for having them now, but wait until you learn what other women used then and still use, even today. Here are 11 peculiar and cringe-worthy menstrual period products that have tortured women in one way or another:

1. The Catamenial Sack

Ladies of the 1800’s were not very lucky in the menstrual sanitary procedure department.Apart from going through a few days of rapid hormonal changes, bleeding,the occasional menstrual cramps and other symptoms that can make a woman cranky, menstrual products in those years were rarely heard of, if any.

It was in the late 1890’s that the first menstrual products were introduced to the public in the form of a catamenial sack. Yes, it’s exactly what you think it is. Women would place a sack-like object under the vagina and it was supposed to trap the blood in it. Can you even begin to imagine how that would work exactly? Not well.

2. A Sanitary Apron

clothIn the 1800’s, if you lived out in the back country, too far for modernization to reach at that time, you didn’t get much.

So, women have found ways to clean up after themselves especially during a certain monthly visit that they have.

Women used to attach cotton or a cloth on their bloomers to absorb the blood. They also wore an apron all around to act as a second layer. It was not very pleasant, if you think about it. Wearing an apron all day was uncomfortable. It was heavy and it did not smell good mixed up with the blood from the menstruation. This created an embarrassing situation for women of the day.

3. The Soft Rubber Cup

A soft rubber cup is the very first of the tampon species. But, just like the first of many innovations, it was neither the most updated, nor the most comfortable menstrual product out there. As compared to the catamenial sack, it was a notch better.

It functions like a tampon where the rubber cup is inserted in the vagina and the tail is used to pull it out. Yes, the cup takes the blood and so on it goes. It was not very tidy at the first years of its invention, and women in those days do not really prefer to touch anything that is bloody or messy.

4. The Sanitary Belt

wear under your outfitThe early 1920’s did not go far with their menstrual products. The latest addition to their list was a sanitary belt. If the catamenial sack was not uncomfortable enough, this was not any better.

But hey, this is what they had to work with and to them it was good enough. Still, it gets you thinking what it was like. How does it feel going through the whole day while having a sanitary belt clinging to you?

A sanitary belt was a belt that you wear under your outfit. It held two pads that covered your vagina from the front to the back to absorb the blood flow. The pad was wide enough to accommodate the blood flow although there are still instances when it would detach or overflow.

5. The Beltless Feminine Napkin

This was the first of its kind, beltless, apron-less, cup-less and the beginning of an actual movement to give comfort to a woman during her menstrual period.The feminine napkin first made its debut in the late 1960’s. Although a bit bulky and wide, unlike the sanitary pads that we have today, the feminine napkin is the first breath of fresh air to women – or perhaps, to their menstrual period problems.

The first menstrual pads that came out were a bit big and wide. Cotton was used to absorb the blood flow and it was still a little messy at first. The beltless feminine napkin could stick to a woman’s underwear – no belts, pins or aprons required. The first products tended to slip and bunch up, though.

6. The Moon Cup

Moon Cup
Photo by NicoleCarey / CC BY SA

The tampon department got a little better when they invented the moon cup. The moon cup was more comfortable than the rubber cup because of the soft materials used for it.

It still resembled a tampon. You insert it inside your vagina, so it can filter the blood flow and there is a tail that you can use to pull it out.

The moon cup is made of latex. That means it is softer and more flexible to insert and extract. Unlike the rubber cup that stretches the vagina because it’s hard, the moon cup can take the form and fit of your vagina, and leaving it in its original shape.

7. The Washable Cloth Menstrual Pad

Despite what you think about a cloth or cotton menstrual pad that can be messy and stinky, there are women who opt to use these types of products.Some women claim that this type of menstrual pad is safer than the ones widely used, because it is not made of plastic and you can wash it yourself which means you can make sure that it is clean.

menstrual pad
Photo by KaurJmeb / CC BY SA

Although it would require a whole lot of changing for the day if you have a heavy flow, a washable menstrual pad is comfortable and soft.

It also comes in different designs that best suits your taste.

8. Glad Rags

Although they sound funny and weird, glad rags are made to control the flow of your monthly visit. It’s not exactly a rag, but it’s close to it. It resembles a washable cloth menstrual pad but it is wider and it holds a place for a cloth where your blood flow will be absorbed. The rag part acts as a base or a second layer if the blood overflows.

Glad rags are used by women who opt to avoid the discomfort of plastic or artificial cottons used by modern sanitary pads. Glad rags are made from natural cotton and are soft and comfortable. They are also washable and it comes in different colors and designs.

9. The Pill

Yes, contraceptive pills make it to this list for good reason. Apart from being a protection from pregnancy and to help you regulate your menstrual periods, the pill is also used to slow down the blood flow.

contraceptive pillsEver notice that you are advised to take the first pill on the first day of your period and it gradually turns off the blood flow like a switch?

You still need to wear a menstrual pad or a tampon though, since there would still be a few drops. But taking the pill can help slow down the blood flow. If anything, it is considered a menstrual product because it helps with counteracting the discomfort of the whole menstruation thing by controlling the one that’s making it most uncomfortable: fast blood flow.

10. Cotton Tampons

Okay, they may be modern, but they are still uncomfortable.Actually, scratch that. Having your period is already uncomfortable in the first place. Cotton tampons can be a source of additional discomfort if you’re not the type to wear one.

As you know, tampons are inserted inside your vagina to absorb the blood. The cotton part of the whole thing can either tickle you or make you feel messy. Although modern tampons will not make you feel it, still there are times when you will feel weirded out to have something there inside your vagina.

11. Sea Sponge Tampons

Sea Sponge TamponsA sea sponge tampon looks like a fully bloomed coral. It is round, it has holes like a sponge and like a sponge, and it absorbs the blood inside you.

Although it has the basic functions of a tampon, what makes it cringe-worthy is the sea sponge look that it has. Just imagine, a sponge with holes inserted in your vagina? No, thank you.

You can thank your lucky stars that you have the comforts of the modern sanitary menstrual products that we have now. Imagine having to use any of the older ones listed above. Think about it: you are already having a bad day because of the discomfort from your period, then comes in any of these bizarre products that are more of a punishment than of help. No wonder women were cranky all the time back in the day.