o.b. ads
Dutch (1959) - German (1970s) - German nude (1970s) - French (1989)
Australian douche ad (ca. 1900) - Fresca douche (date ?) - Kotique douche 1974 ad - Liasan (1) ad - Liasan (2) ad - Lysol 1928 ad - Lysol 1948 ad - Marvel 1926 ad - Midol 1938 ad - Midol 1959 booklet - o.b. German (papyrus tampons) - Pristeen 1969 ad - o.b. German (nude) - Sterizol 1926 ad - Vionell spray 1970 ad (Germany) - the odor page

A British Tampax ad using nudity (1992) - And see other ads directed at teenagers.

See a Modess True or False? ad in The American Girl magazine, January 1947, and actress Carol Lynley in "How Shall I Tell My Daughter" booklet ad (1955) - Modess . . . . because ads (many dates).
CONTRIBUTE to Humor, Words and expressions about menstruation and Would you stop menstruating if you could?
Some MUM site links:
homepage | MUM address & What does MUM mean? | e-mail the museum | privacy on this site | who runs this museum?? |
Amazing women! | the art of menstruation | artists (non-menstrual) | asbestos | belts | bidets | founder bio | Bly, Nellie | MUM board | books: menstruation and menopause (and reviews) | cats | company booklets for girls (mostly) directory | contraception and religion | costumes | menstrual cups | cup usage | dispensers | douches, pain, sprays | essay directory | extraction | facts-of-life booklets for girls | famous women in menstrual hygiene ads | FAQ | founder/director biography | gynecological topics by Dr. Soucasaux | humor | huts | links | masturbation | media coverage of MUM | menarche booklets for girls and parents | miscellaneous | museum future | Norwegian menstruation exhibit | odor | olor | pad directory | patent medicine | poetry directory | products, current | puberty booklets for girls and parents | religion | Religión y menstruación | your remedies for menstrual discomfort | menstrual products safety | science | Seguridad de productos para la menstruación | shame | slapping, menstrual | sponges | synchrony | tampon directory | early tampons | teen ads directory | tour of the former museum (video) | underpants & panties directory | videos, films directory | Words and expressions about menstruation | Would you stop menstruating if you could? | What did women do about menstruation in the past? | washable pads
Leer la versión en español de los siguientes temas: Anticoncepción y religión, Breve reseña - Olor - Religión y menstruación - Seguridad de productos para la menstruación.

What does o.b. mean? Part 1 (Part 2)
Folder for o.b. tampons, Germany, probably early 1950s.

When I opened the museum in my house (see some pictures), in 1994, I called the library of the Johnson & Johnson company, which owned o.b., to ask what o.b. meant. No one knew. The lady said she would ask old-timers with the company to see if they remembered - if they were in on it in the first place.

I knew that a German company, Dr. Carl Hahn GmbH, invented the tampon in the late 1940s or early 1950s and owned the tampon until the 1970s, when J&J took over. (A company ad said the o.b. "designer" was Judith Esser.) I also knew German pretty well, having long ago diddled around in graduate school studying for a master's in German (I fled to Germany before getting it and stayed 13 memorable years in Heidelberg, Frankfurt and Aschaffenburg; everyone should flee to someplace far away at least once - look at this landscape to see why). So - hmm, lessee - it's a tampon, meaning no pad. Could it be ohne Binde, which means "without [a] pad"? ("Binde" looks as if it would mean "belt," so, "without [a] belt," - which would make sense - but belt is in fact "Gürtel," like our English girdle, and pad is "Binde.") German nouns - Binde - are capitalized; marketing people, even in Germany, play with words and made the B small.

In 2000 an e-mailer to this site (here) insisted it stood for obstetrician - but I thought a woman needing an obstetrician would rather use a pad, not a tampon. And that's an English word. And why did periods - periods! - sit after the o and b? Anyway, she was wrong, as you'll see.

I called the library lady back and offered my guess, which she took under consideration. But, as you can see on the folder below, I was right. So I had the huge pleasure of telling J&J what one of their product names meant!

Like the name o.b., early American tampons often printed the words pad or napkin on their boxes so women could make a connection to something familiar - see Sa-tips, for example.

O.b. is the first commercial tampon indigenous to Europe that I know of; the American company Tampax advertised in Europe in the late 1930s (here) but probably gave up until after the war. I've heard of German women sewing their tampons around 1900, I assume part of a long tradition of women making their own tampons.

Like almost all early tampons in the U.S.A. (for example, Fibs) o.b. had no applicator, which Tampax invented and patented. Lox ("the theatrical tampon," not because of its histrionics but because the company was trading on the use of tampons by people who must be on a stage) did have a single tube (Tampax employed two) and exemplified a reason why tampons came into general use: they loxed tampons in place - sorry, locked - so they wouldn't fall off as pads could - and of course were invisible compared to the enormous pads of the time (here from a slightly earlier era, the middle 1920s).

A Dutchman kindly sent me the scans.


The contributor didn't mention what size the folder is.
Originally the beam of light trained on o.b. did not have the red-and-yellow pattern; that's a moire pattern caused by the dots in the picture meeting the pixels of our image.
The left side reads (my translation)
The o.b. hygiene is the new monthly hygiene of the modern woman who takes good care of herself. The o.b. tampon gives certain protection through its superior absorption ability. It's pleasantly soft yet firm enough to make insertion comfortable and easy. It swells with blood in a limited way that conforms to the female body, and which a woman can't detect. Therefore always ask for o.b., the German brand tampon.
Dr. Carl Hahn KG
Dusseldorf 1
Buy at
The right side:
The future
of women's hygiene
ohne binde [without {a} pad]
clinically tested
recommended by doctors


The text reads:
It will thrill every woman . . . .
The age-old problem of invisible monthly protection is solved! Small tampons formed from cotton that are used internally and which are easy to remove with a built-in string absorb the bleeding internally.
This most modern monthly hygiene has proved itself for more than a decade in the West and is preferred by millions of women. The advantages of the discarding of pad and belt [Binde und Gürtel] are so convincing that it is clear that:
1. No hindrance during "your days":
A tampon, which is worn internally, can't rub or hinder you while walking.
2. Not visible under clothing: A tampon worn internally is invisible. You can move about unembarrassed in a close-fitting dress, in a sport dress and even in a bathing suit.
3. No odor: Because tampons completely absorb the blood internally there's no chance of embarrassing odor.
4. No embarrassment: You can carry several of the small tampons in a hand bag any time, which protects you from an unpleasant surprise.
The German brand o.b. combines all these advantages. The new o.b. takes all unpleasantness from the period.
Young girls are advised to ask their doctor before using o.b.

Next: Part 2  What does o.b. mean?

o.b. ads
(1970s) - German nude (1970s) - French (1989)

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