10 Menstrual Products And Techniques Through History

I remember being shocked when I heard that pads used to be safety pinned into underwear. I guess I just assumed that the sticky, adhesive bottom on a maxi pad was always, well, a thing. I don’t know about you, but if I had to rely on pins every time I needed to change a pad, I’d be the grumpiest chick the 1950s has ever seen. I’d be the meanest girl at the sock hop and I’d probably always have stains on my poodle skirt. Seriously, who has the time or patience for that?

Well, besides our moms and grandmothers and great-grandmothers, I guess.

Have you ever wondered how women dealt with their time of the month before our modern menstrual conveniences? Well, women are a pretty creative and resilient lot and had some fascinating and uncomfortable ways of taking care of their Aunt Flow. Check out these 10 menstrual products and techniques used throughout history and be thankful that you aren’t sticking moss up your vagina.


Have you heard of any other interesting ways that women handled their period? What would you use to handle your flow if you didn’t have tampons, pads or menstrual cups? Tell us in the comments!

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  • I started my periods before the age of the stick-on pad, and those ones with an elastic belt on which you hooked the pads were really not comfortable, and felt kind of risky! I’ve written a few things on the ancient history of menstruation, like https://theconversation.com/four-weird-ideas-people-used-to-have-about-womens-periods-30623 and http://www.wondersandmarvels.com/2014/11/the-history-of-tampons-in-ancient-greece.html. Enjoy.

  • Caprice

    I couldn’t imagine using pins and such to hold my pad or napkin in place. It is difficult enough at times using current time’s pads and tampons. Wearing all those belts and thick pads must have been so uncomfortable. I have heard stories from my relatives. I am so thankful to be living when I am when I comes to menstruation.

    • Anna Sefalik

      I came of age using pads with a “sanitary belt.” Adhesive pads were a great advance–but once I started using tampons, there was no going back.
      The belts worked pretty well, but the pads were bulky, and if you were very active, they could slip, causing leaks.