The history of the origins of female hygiene products


We live in the era when women face absolutely no problems selecting personal hygiene products. There is a wide choice of pads and tampons that suit any taste, even the most exacting one. But it was not always the case. The personal hygiene products as we know them started finding their way to the stores’ shelves relatively recently. We wonder how our mothers, grandmothers and great-grandmothers managed without them. It gets even more interesting if we take a look into the ancient times. How did girls take care of their hygiene during «these days» back then?

The first mentions of the personal hygiene products

We will find them in the chronicles of many ancient civilizations. The chroniclers were not shy about it and covered this subject quite thoroughly; this is what they wrote. A prototype of modern tampons originated as far back as in Ancient Egypt, one of the most advanced civilizations. Egyptian women were ahead of others to come up with an idea of using solid papyrus as tampons. In other countries of the ancient world, papyrus was popular too, but women there used it as a pad, folding it several times. However, papyrus was a very expensive material and affordable by the upper classes alone.


In Ancient China and Japan, special attention was given to the female hygiene and childbearing health. Therefore, even back in those old times, they implemented the most hygienic option — silk fabric folded several times.


In Ancient Rome, women came up with an idea of using cotton fabric as a napkin. Also popular were little balls of animal fur and fluff.

In Ancient Russia, things were hard. Women used scraps of cloth, often those of some cast-off garments rather than new ones. As these became soiled, they were washed, dried and reused. Hygiene as you are used to thinking about was totally out of question. Yet, these are the historical realities.

How did modern personal hygiene products originate?

The origins of pads


The situation in the industry of personal female hygiene started changing in a radical way after the World War I. During their menses, military nurses used surgical bandaging material that contained cellucotton. It absorbed very well compared to other fabrics. In 1920, this idea was picked up, developed and refined by a company that launched a mass production of toss-away hygienic pads. Of course, those were not as thin and well-absorbing as modern Ola. Still, women were thankful for their invention just the same.

That was how the era of hygienic pads started. After a while, their structure, shape and size underwent all sorts of changes. Finally, near the 1990s, these hygiene products acquired the look that largely resembled those pads we use nowadays.

The history of tampons


If you recognize papyrus rolled into a tight swab as a tampon, then its roots, as you know now, go way back into the ancient times. Thousand years would pass, women would use all kinds of handy materials, until a tampon as we know it appears. It would happen closer to year 1930.

An American surgeon who felt deeply about the monthly “troubles” of his wife made a tight narrow swab of surgical cotton. He stitched it through lengthwise with thread to prevent the construction from falling apart. This way, he reduced the volume of cotton, yet its amount remained the same, so the tampon was absorbing well. Several years later, the wide audience learned about this invention. It was a breakthrough in the sphere of female personal hygiene. Mass industrial production of tampons was launched in Europe and America. Unfortunately, Soviet girls were doing everything in the old-fashioned manner for a long time, because this issue was not properly addressed in the USSR.