Since periods are often a taboo subject, there are a lot of interesting facts about them we don't normally learn. In a recent interview with The Huffington Post, Thinx founder Miki Agrawal lifts the veil on menstruation and shares some interesting facts about periods. Who knew the menstrual cup has been around for so long?
According to Agrawal, there have only been three big innovations in feminine hygiene in the 20th century, likely because products geared toward women have not received as much attention as those typically marketed to men and because it's been considered impolite to even discuss periods. But lately, people have been pushing back against the idea that menstruation is disgusting and shameful. Now that it's becoming a bit more acceptable to discuss menstruation, a number of exciting products are popping up, from period trackers to smart menstrual cups to underwear like Thinx with built-in pads.
Even before people started discussing menstruation in public and on the Internet, though, periods and the inventions surrounding them have had a rich and sometimes peculiar history. Here are a few facts Agrawal mentions in the interview that might interest anyone with a period. Head to The Huffington Post for the full video.
1. The Tampon Was Invented By A Man
Until Colorado physician Earle Haas patented them in 1931, tampons weren't an available option — in their current form, at least. But tampon-like devices were actually used as far back as ancient Egypt. These "vaginal pessaries" were sometimes made of crocodile dung, elephant dung, or goose fat. Fortunately, the tampon has come a long way since then.
2. Pads Had Belts Before Adhesive Strips Were Added
Until the '70s, most women wore elastic menstrual belts in order to keep their pads in place. Women were very involved in the creation of these belts, with patents issued to several women inventors in the '40s and '50s, and were also active in the creation of adhesive pads at the Johnson and Johnson affiliate Personal Products.
3. Menstrual Cups Have Been Around Since The '80s
We rarely hear about menstrual cups even today, but they've actually been around since the '80s. In fact, the first version of the menstrual cup was patented in 1937 by actress Leona Chalmers. For those who don't know about them, they're cup-like devices inserted into the vagina to stop the blood from getting out.
4. The Word "Taboo" Stems From "Menstruation"
The word "taboo" comes from the Polynesian word "tapua," which means "menstruation," according to Agrawal. And she makes a good point about that: "The most uncomfortable thing we can talk about is a woman's period? The thing that creates human life? That makes absolutely no sense." Amen to that — but with more discussions about periods like this, maybe that will change.