The Evolution of Period Products

  • by Cinestie Olson

Written by Cinestie Olson

Since the beginning of time (literally), menstruators have had to learn to manage and deal with periods. Today, we have so many period product options to choose from, it can be a bit overwhelming when walking into a drugstore! Before period cups, period underwear, tampons, or even pads, menstruators had incredibly limited options during their period. Continue reading to see how period products have evolved over time!

Ancient Times

Menstruators in Ancient Greek and Rome made homemade pads that were made of cotton or wool (I’m itching just thinking about it). They would then have to pin the material to their underwear.

Ancient Egyptian menstruators had a different idea to support their monthly bleeding. They were the first to use a remedy that resembles today’s tampon! Using papyrus, a material used to create paper, sandals, or rope, they would shape the material like a tampon!

19th Century (1800s)

The 19th Century was the first recorded time where period taboos and stigmas were prevalent (thanks…)! Many menstruators were free-bleeding, and menstrual hygiene became a societal concern.

Introducing: the “Hoosier” Sanitary Belt. This sanitary belt was a belt that could pin to reusable cloth pads. This was the most popular option for menstruators in the 19th Century!

20th Century (1900s)

The 20th Century was revolutionary for menstruators. The first disposable sanitary napkin was actually invented for the purpose of absorbing blood on battle grounds during WW1. When everyone realized that these napkins were incredibly absorbent, Johnson & Johnson created Lister’s Towel - a sanitary napkin for menstruators. Soon after, Kotex created a successful sanitary napkin using the same material. This product was heavily advertised and contributed to menstruators everywhere feeling more comfortable when shopping for period products! 

In 1929, the plastic applicator was invented for tampons. Many menstruators had already been putting cotton or other sponges inside themselves when they were on their period, but there was a taboo around that time that menstruators should be uncomfortable being so intimate with their vaginas! Dr. Earle C. Haas invented the modern applicator and called it ‘Tampax’ (sound familiar?) During this century, period cups were also invented!


Today, there are so many innovative period products on the market catering to different needs such as size, materials, sustainability and comfortability. From period underwear, to period discs, to period cups with applicators 😉, there’s something out there for everyone!


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