General Wellness

Evolution of Period Products

From the “red tent” and homemade rags to the diversity of options available for women today, “period products” have a pretty long and fascinating history. While you may not enjoy having your period each month, thankfully there are a number of options available today to help women manage their periods.

While women in earlier ages didn’t menstruate often because they were often pregnant and lived shorter lives, the first products for periods were likely awkward and uncomfortable, everything from sanitary aprons to sanitary belts to towels. In the late 1800s, disposable pads became available, and Kotex pads launched during World War I, made of the same cellulose used for bandages. Tampons arrived on the scene in 1929, followed by self-adhesive pads several decades later. Today, of course, you can enjoy light flow, regular flow, super or even super-plus tampons. Likewise, pads are more discreet and thinner than in previous generations.

Newer options now include absorbent period underwear, designed to prevent leaks and odor, as well as the resurgence of menstrual cups. Moved by the desire to protect the environment, more women are using cups made out of silicone, which are more user-friendly and comfortable than the first menstrual cups developed nearly a century ago. Sea sponges, used by various cultures for centuries, can be purchased at co-ops or natural care stores. You can even find reusable (and cute) sanitary napkins on Etsy!

Finally, a bit of period trivia: Courtney Cox of “Friends” fame was the first person to say the world “period” in a commercial for Tampax in 1985, considered a big deal at the time.

“We have certainly come a long way when you take a look back at the products and attitudes around periods,” said Dr. Erin Stevens. “However, that doesn’t mean we don’t still have a ways to go in reducing the stigma around periods, in creating products that work for all women and in recognizing the challenges periods can bring — particularly to women in need.”

If you have extra period products – pads, tampons, pantyliners, sanitizing wipes, menstrual cups, hand sanitizer, underwear and even chocolate – Clinic Sofia is collecting “Crimson Kit” products to donate to Haven Housing and People Serving People clients to support women experiencing homelessness or displacement due to domestic violence. You can drop them at either location throughout November and join us on Dec. 6 in Edina to assemble the kits.


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