Nowadays, menstruation is less stressful and more sanitary since the invention of adhesive sanitary napkins. Menstrual pad alternatives are even available for combating bloody menstrual battle. But have you ever wondered what ancient women, including your mother and grandmother up to your super grandmother, used during their times? Moreover, they had to go through ridiculous menstrual taboos which are still prevalent in many places. Here’s a brief history of the discovery and invention of the sanitary napkins and menstrual pad alternatives. Let me take you back in time!

which are still prevalent in many places. Here’s a brief history of the discovery and invention of the sanitary napkins and menstrual pad alternatives. Let me take you back in time!

Ancient Assumptions of use of traditional sanitary pads and tampons: Animal furs Women living in countries with extreme climates commonly used animal fur to catch menstrual flow seeping. Animals’ blood were shed for women’s blood! Grass African and Australian women opted to use cloth-covered grass as pad during their menses. However, this alternative is harmful to the skin of the genitals since grass in arid regions are pointy and rough. Moss Folded in a cloth and placed inside the woman’s underwear. A little bit creepy since some crawlers might be hiding inside the moss that even rinsing and washing will not eliminate them! Old rags This is one of the most common and sanitized traditional tampons used by women. Old clothes, especially those made in absorbent cotton, are cut or torn to be used as pad. After use or whenever the cloth is “full”, the rag is washed and may still be used the next time. Papyrus It was generally known during the ancient times that women used soaked and softened papyrus, a thick paper used as paper for writing, as sanitary napkin. Sand The practice was used by the ancient Chinese women where the sand is tightly wrapped in a cloth. When the blood leeched thru the cloth, they throw the sand away, wash the cloth and use it again the next day. Sticks made out of wood The ancient Greeks used sticks covered with lint to absorb the blood from within, that is, the stick is inserted in the woman’s body for the lint to sip the flow before coming out of the woman’s genitalia. How painful! Wool Use of wool as pad is most common to Roman women where they will roll up a sheep’s wool and place it inside the underwear. Not to mention the wool is bulky, it is very rough and ticklish plus the smell from the wool may not be sanitary to the woman’s genitals.
1879 British Medical Journal described a new tampon-like device to be inserted in the vagina to absorb blood flow
1800s to 1920s Hoosier sanitary belt, made of metal, used to hold washable pads, shaped like a diaper.  The belt remained popular until sometime in 1920s when a woman wore the washable pads inside her underwear instead of attaching it in the belt.
1888 Lister’s towels, the first commercially available disposable menstrual pads, developed by Johnson & Johnson
Around 1888 Nurses began using pulp bandages they found in the hospital. This same material was later used for the first Kotex pads.
1929 Development of the first tampon by Dr. Earle Haas
1980s Adhesive pads which can be attached to underwear was introduced, eradicating the Hoosier belt in the market
20th century Continuous innovations were made resulting to different designs and sizes of sanitary napkins, ensuring that no blood stain will seep thru   Development of tampon and sanitary pad alternatives like cloth pads, Thinx (period-friendly underwear), and menstrual cups.


Sanitary pads and tampons have made women’s menstruation period easy since they no longer have to undergo through all the traditional. However, this also has cost us the environment’s condition since these plastic-made pads contributed to water and land pollutions the world battles today. This pioneered the development of menstrual pad alternatives such as the Daisy menstrual cup, which is reusable, convenient and easy to store and carry and is environment friendly.

This cup can stand 4-12 hours before removing and emptying it. Using menstrual cup also reduces your expenses for your menstrual period since the cup is reusable for 5 years. So in your next purchase, rethink if you’ll stick to your sanitary pads or switch to Daisy menstrual cup.