9 Fun Facts About The History Of Tampons

by Kaitlyn Wylde

There's been a lot of conversation revolving around tampons lately. Their material components have been brought under scrutiny, and the negative environmental impact of the disposal of plastic applicators have been the subject of many-a-discussion. Everyone is talking about tampons — men, women, teens, environmentalists, doctors, naturalists. New products like menstrual cups are filling the market in hopes of steering customers away from tampons. It seems like all of a sudden, there's a stigma around tampons; it's as if the public is starting to see them as a flawed modern invention.

The truth is however, tampons have been around for a long, long time. Civilizations dating back to the ancient Greeks have recorded evidence that women used homemade tampon-like devices. Which is interesting ... because I think we all have a story from our mothers about how they had to buckle in their giant maxi-pads which caused them to wobble on their bikes and show off embarrassing bulges in their underpants.

But our mother's behavior was a result of stigma. Our mothers were brought up in a time when feminine products were little secrets they had to use to hide their shameful bodily functions. Back in ancient Greece, women didn't have the same societal pressures and they didn't have the time to be hateful towards their natural functions. So before you say goodbye to tampons, enjoy some interesting facts you probably didn't know about their history.

"La, la, la, la, la, la, la, sheets of Egyptian cotton"

Ancient Egyptian women used softened papyrus to absorb their menstruation. Though it might sound like quite a process for us busy women, it was just something they were used to making.

Ouch, just ouch

Women in ancient Greece used slim planks of wood wrapped in lint as tampons. I can't imagine a worse place to get a splinter.


The Roman women used sheep's wool. It was accessible and absorbent.

Paper cuts

Japanese women used folded paper. I imagine it was softer than the kind of paper we know.

One with nature

Women in Asia and parts of Africa used rolled plants and grasses. They weren't particularly absorbent but they did block the flow.

It wasn't always this easy to use

Tampons as we know them which come with a removable, disposable applicator did not come around until the 20th century.

During WWII, tampon sales hit a high

During the war, women were taking over men's jobs and working long hours. The tampon became a tool for the working woman. It allowed her to be mobile and not chained to the bathroom.

It took a long time to get tampons on television

Up until the 1970s, tampons were not publicly broadcasted. When the National Association of Broadcasters Code Authority approved Tampax for televised advertisements, they were everywhere. Even now, it's impossible to watch any show on TV that has women and not sit through a few tampon commercials.

It beat out every other menstruation product

Over 70 percent of women in the United States use tampons as their menstruation method of choice. Statistically, women will use 17,000 tampons in their life time. The more you know!

Images: Giphy (9), Pixabay