A History of Tampons

Tampons have become an everyday use for most women all around the world when it comes to getting their periods. Even most men know the term, too! But, ask yourself this – have you ever wondered where the small wad of fabric comes from, or how it ever came to be that women decided to put this fabric tube up their vagina’s?

It’s a good question. You may be surprised to learn that the tampon is rich in history and wasn’t always used to help women with their periods. Made from some of the most unlikely materials and substances such as rock salt, cotton, and even elephant dung, they were used for medical purposes, to contraceptives, and more!

So, how did the modern tampon come to be? Well, it all started a long, long time ago in Egypt.

The Egyptian Tampon

Before we travel back thousands of years, it’s important to remember that the modern tampon wasn’t always used to help aid your periods, but was used for some weird and wacky medical solutions.

It was the Egyptians that first came up with putting something foreign into the vaginal cavity, but it wasn’t used to help with their periods. The first tampon was called a Pessaries and was used to help with gynecological problems. What sort of problems would women have back then? The same ones they can have today! The Pessaries was used to help women with an unusually large amount discharge.

The Egyptians believed that the Earth was the best form of medicine, and so they put dirt from the river Nile, mixed with honey and galena in a cloth to help prevent excessive discharge from the vaginal cavity.

You may be thinking – oh, that’s not so bad. But the next history lesson may surprise you even more. Pessaries weren’t just used to help combat excessive discharge but were also used as a contraceptive device. The Egyptians would put elephant dung mixed with acaia juice inside a cloth to be worn in the vaginal cavity. This was thought to prevent pregnancy. Whether it worked or not, who knows! But they had some pretty creative ideas for the first tampon.

giphy (3)

The Tampon That Was Made Out Of Anything

Who would have thought that women were using elephant dung wrapped in a cotton cloth as a contraceptive method? Well, that’s where the tampon all started, and after that, it must have become a widely known and popular thing to wear as the tampon is used for a range of purposes throughout the world.

The idea of using a tampon to help control a woman’s period wasn’t thought of many thousands of years ago. Instead, many places all around the world jumped on board with using the tampon as a contraceptive method.

In the 4th century, India, they created a tampon that would be used as a contraceptive device. It was made out of rock salt and oil. According to modern-day scientists, these materials would have actually been effective to a certain degree, as rock salt is lethal to sperm. They also state that it would have probably stung really bad!

Even in the early 19th century, the tampon was still being used as a form of contraceptive around most of the world and was made out of pretty much anything that doctors could find: lint, flax, cotton, fine wool or essentially anything soft and absorbent.

It was ancient Japan that had the right idea all along. They created the paper tampon that was used, by women, for menstrual purposes, and would have to change it 12 times a day. Yikes!

The World War 2 Tampon

The tampon has been through some major transformations in its time, but it wasn’t until the 20th century that it started getting used worldwide for menstrual aid.

The concept of the modern-day tampon was developed and patented by a Colorado doctor named Earl Haas in 1931, but it was a woman, Gertrude Tendrich, who bought the materials and started to produce it. Eventually, she would expand from sewing tampons at home to distributing them under the now-famous brand name Tampax.

Although the tampon sounds like a great idea to some, it wasn’t always that way when they were first created. Many religious leaders thought that the tampons were of evil, and they would make young girls and women prone to erotic feelings as the tampon was to be worn in the vaginal cavity. Parents also didn’t want their daughter’s hymens ruptured.

Despite these feelings from some members of society, the tampon gained rapid usage during World War 2, especially when women became a part of the workforce and needed better menstrual care when they had their periods.

The Modern Tampon

After thousands of years, we finally come to the modern-day tampon that is commonly used for menstrual purposes. Thank god we have evolved from using elephant dung like our ancestors before us!

Surveys conducted today estimate that around 42 percent of women use them or menstrual purposes, but that doesn’t mean that just because they are popular they face a lot of problems.

The tampons of our modern society face new challenges that our ancestors were perhaps unaware of. There is a lot of discussions in today’s society about the green future of tampons. Many of tampons can have a big environmental impact as they fill landfills, wash up on our beaches, and prove to be strong little things as they are very hard to biodegrade. They’re also often made using some fairly body-damaging chemicals (like chlorine), so you can understand why people are concerned and want tampons to be eco-friendlier.

Here at Ellebox, we are a frontier in protecting the environment with our 100% environmentally friendly tampons and 100% all-natural cotton that is safe and healthy for your body.

The future looks relatively bright for tampons, and don’t seem to be going anywhere anytime soon. As long as the modern-day tampon can adjust to the growing standards of health, safety, and greenery, it should be fine. Before you know it, there will be space age tampons!

Tampons have been around for a very long time, and have seen an interesting history from elephant dung to contraceptive use, and now to help aid in menstrual periods. Who knew there was so much to learn about a tampon?

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