A Brief, Bloody History Of How The Tampon Was Created
Periods are the crème de la crème of the never-ending sh*t that happens to women’s bodies.
Full disclosure, this comes from a girl who’s been experiencing PMS for about one week too long.
I have always been a tampon girl, because pads have far too much in common with diapers. Plus, I don’t trust myself with anything more complicated than a string I have to pull every four hours.
The National Center of Health Research reports about 43 million women in the US use tampons.
What’s even crazier? The average American woman will use nearly 17 thousand tampons in her lifetime. That's a lot of cotton.
Tampons may be wedged in our vaginal canals for three to five days a month, but we don’t know jack sh*t about them.
Let’s shed some light on its bloody history.
Ancient tampons were totally a thing.
Tampons weren’t just created in the '50s for bleeding housewives.
Ancient Egyptian texts reference a “tyet” or an “Isis knot,” which bears a close resemblance to a tampon, according to the digital Museum of Menstruation.
These old-school blood plugs were usually made of flax or cheap linen, nothing like the plushy filling our vaginas are accustomed to feeling. Can you get calluses up there?
Additional literature suggests that ancient Egyptian ladies used disposable tampons made of papyrus and other grass.
It wasn’t just the Egyptians, either. Ancient Greeks circa 5th century BC reportedly used wood rolled in lint as makeshift tampons.
No one cared about your stupid period in the 18th and 19th centuries.
A Man's Guide To Understanding A Woman's PeriodA man's guide to understanding a woman's period: elitedai.ly/20MMXS0 via The Elite Daily Show exclusively on go90 Posted by Elite Daily Video on Thursday, November 12, 2015
Tampons soaking up your period blood? Don’t be ridiculous!
In the late 1800s, American gynecologist Paul F. Munde published a riveting 552-page tome titled "Minor surgical gynecology: a treatise of uterine diagnosis."
In it, he describes eight uses for the tampon, the first of which is to use it as “a carrier for the application of medicinal agents to the cervix and vagina.”
Munde proves that men, once again, failed to understand women's bodies. Using a tampon as a way to regulate menstrual bleeding isn’t mentioned anywhere in his magnum opus.
Go home, Munde. You're drunk.
In the '20s, we almost had tampons. Not quite.
In the 1920s, some punk named John Williamson stuffed a condom with Cellucotton, cutting off the tip, and showed it to his father.
Instead of the plastic applicator we know and love today, early tampons relied upon condoms or fingers for insertion.
As you can imagine, neither went over well with the religious.
Williamson's father, for one, was totally scandalized. He reportedly said, “Never would I put such a strange article inside a woman!"
I wonder what his stance on strap-ons would be.
In the '30s, the tampon as we know it was finally invented.
Everyone was grossed out by the idea of using a tampon without an applicator, so inventors got to work.
In 1931, Earle Haas developed a cardboard applicator used to insert cotton tampons. You may know this particular cardboard as Tampax, and today it's most commonly seen with a plastic applicator.
As it turns out, there are plenty of ways to stop menstrual bleeding without getting your hands dirty. Thank goodness.
For the record, we still don't know how to talk about periods.
Okay, let me rephrase that, because we do broach the subject occasionally.
Instead of total ignorance, we deal with pesky boyfriends asking if it's our "time of the month" every time we give them attitude.
Pop culture isn't kind when Aunt Flo comes to town, either. Look no further than "Carrie" and Cherokee Hair Tampons (thanks, South Park).
As long as period-shaming exists, tampons will be an open "secret."