Read the Gilbreth Report, which surveyed college and high school girls in the mid-1920s.
See the Fibs tampon and box. Early commercial tampons page.
See more Kotex items: First ad for the pad (1921; scroll to bottom of page) - pad ad, 1928 (Sears and Roebuck catalog) - Lee Miller pad ads (first real person in a menstrual hygiene ad, 1928) - Marjorie May's Twelfth Birthday (booklet for girls, 1928, Australian edition; there are many links here to Kotex items) - Preparing for Womanhood (1920s, booklet for girls; Australian edition) - 1920s booklet in Spanish showing pad disposal method - box from about 1969 - "Are you in the know?" ads for pads (1949)(1953)(1964)(booklet, 1956) - See more ads on the Ads for Teenagers main page
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).
DIRECTORY of all topics (See also the SEARCH ENGINE, bottom of page.)
CONTRIBUTE to Humor, Words and expressions about menstruation and Would you stop menstruating if you could?
Some MUM site links:
homepage | LIST OF ALL TOPICS | 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.

Survey of alternative menstrual products usage, 2004

A student at a large public university in the United States conducted a small survey among students and others about their knowledge and use of alternative menstrual products, although the bulk of the text below deals with menstrual cups. Below are her e-mail to me and the results of the survey; at bottom is the survey itself.

Hi, [MUM]

Thanks for responding to me about your museum. I have conducted some research and plan to do more. I sent out a survey and then compiled a response email both are below and the response email is attached. Thanks for all your great work!


Hi! [Survey Takers],

Remember that tampon survey you filled out a few months ago?  Well, here is the follow up letter. This is long, so be sure to read all the parts that interest you.   

First, thank you for responding. I got more than 30 surveys back and it seems that we all have amazing stories, and yet very few outlets for them.  This email has 4 purposes:

1)  To share with you the survey results

2)  To provide some answers to questions many of you asked

3)  To explain more about alternative menstrual products

4)  To share my personal experience with an alternative menstrual product 

I am thinking of compiling these results into a play, sort of a Vagina Monologues type format. So, if you would be interested in being interviewed further for that, please let me know. Thanks! Also, let me know if you have any questions or would like more information, and when/if you start using a new product, let me know how it goes!



1) Survey Results

·         The survey was sent to the **** Feminist Activists of **** list serve and a few other people

·         A total of 33 surveys were completed

·         30 consider themselves feminists

·         3 consider themselves feminists "sometimes"

·         Many had heard about tampon alternatives, but only 3 people used them

·         Most of those who had heard about alternatives heard from friends and Internet/magazines/books

·         Almost everyone said that tampon prices are too high

o        One person who did not think they were too high said she didn't have a comparison price, and she looks for sales

·         80% (4/5) would use a tampon alternative if it was

o        easy to use

o        inexpensive

o        had to be changed less regularly

o        was proven safe

o        was more environmentally friendly

·         reasons people said they would not use alternatives

o        messiness

o        lifestyle changes

o        comfort

o        difficult to use

o        the word "alternative"

(these concerns are addressed in part 2 of this email.)

·         No one had been spoken to by a medical professional about alternatives

·         2 people said a medical professional had spoken with them about tampon use

o        One of those 2 said, "Yes. At a gyn appointment it came up that I don't use tampons, and the doctor began to question me as to why I didn't use them, I said I simply did not want to. I didn't go into the dangers of most mainstream brands of tampons. She was shocked that a girl "my age" would not be using tampons. This was on campus."

·         When asked "Anything else you would like to tell me?" one person wrote "Periods suck and I've been taught to hate them."


2) Questions from your surveys answered here

Why did you only send this to feminists? 

I sent this survey to mostly self-identified feminists because I wanted to test my own theory that feminists are more open to learning about their bodies, and more likely to be aware of their health and alternative products than non-feminists. If feminists/activists don't know about these products and/or are reluctant to use them, I question if non-feminists would be receptive to using alternative menstrual products.

What are these products?

The tampon industry has dramatic effects on our health and on the environment. Look at any advertisement for tampons/pads they probably use shame or embarrassment to describe menstruation.  Periods are natural and we should not be told that they are gross or unnatural. Products such as the ones I will describe are safer for our bodies and the environment. For the most part, they create less waste, place fewer chemicals in your body, and aren't dyed white to "look clean." 

Although this may seem like a funny research topic, there has been a LOT of research conducted. Look up [MUM board member] Dr. Philip Tierno. He has done a lot of research about menstruation, etc., and is internationally known as the man who helped solve the mystery behind toxic shock syndrome.  Also, he is the director of clinical microbiology and diagnostic immunology at New York University Medical Center and Mt. Sinai Medical Center, and a part-time associate professor in the departments of microbiology and pathology at New York University School of Medicine. 

So there you have it: people are studying this because it is such a phenomenon that menstrual product companies have told us that we are gross and therefore we spend a lot of money and time trying to cover all that up.

A quote to get you thinking before you read the rest:

"I emerged [from three years of research on menstruation] with this profound analogy: blood is kinda like snot. How come it's not treated that way? People with runny noses do not hide their tissues from colleagues and family members. They do not die of embarrassment when they sneeze in public. Young girls do not cringe if a boy spies them buying a box of Kleenex. Caught without a hanky on a cold day, people sometimes use their sleeves; they are sheepish but not humiliated. They do not blush or stammer or hide the evidence. No one celebrates congestion. It is inconvenient and occasionally, when accompanied by a cold, decidedly unpleasant. But those who suffer publicly-- ah-choo! -- are casually blessed. It is, in essence, no big deal.

"The same is not true of periods."

-Karen Houppert, The Curse (p. 4)

3) Alternatives:

*There are many alternatives, but I haven't used them all, so I will give you some sites that are useful. This list is not exhaustive.

*Some menstrual cups:

*Instead: disposable menstrual cup

*Sea Sponges: reusable, internal menstrual protection option from the past

*Cloth, reusable menstrual pads: This includes any rag-like cloth you stick in your underwear to soak up your flow. It can include carefully-sewn pads made from a pattern that took years to perfect, or it can be ripped-up old pajamas.

*Student Environmental Action Coalition's info on menstruation and products has a lot of info!

*Below the Belt Resource Center for Genital, Sexual and Reproductive Health

4) More info about alternatives to tampons and pads from ME!

I use a menstrual cup that is made of silicone. It has made me very happy. It is about 30 dollars, and can be used for 10 years. This means that I NEVER buy pads or tampons, and therefore create no waste.  The morning of my period, I put in the cup, and since you can leave it in for 12 hours, I take it out after I'm home from the day, maybe even after dinner. I wash it well, and then put it back in. When my period is over, I put it in a little bag it comes with, and don't think about it again for a month. I have never leaked while using it, and I have never had to take it out or wash it in public. 

Messiness: Menstrual cups do not have a string like tampons that you can pee and bleed and leak on. Therefore, I don't even have to wear a panty liner when I wear the cup. Also, I do not find it especially gross at all. It's true, you do have to see your blood, but the part of the cup that you touch is not disgusting. And think about it, when you take out or put in a tampon, you always wash your hands anyway, right? It's just as "gross."

Comfort: My menstrual cup has always felt like a tampon to me. I can feel when I put it in, and then I forget about it. Just like a tampon, but without the annoying string. Putting it in and taking it out are not painful because you squeeze the bottom so it folds instead of the pulling the whole thing out. (See web sites.) Also, I wet the cup a little when I put it in (or do it in the shower) and that feels fine, even better than putting in a dry cotton tampon.

On the word "alternative:" Actually, this type of menstrual cup has been used for a long, long time. Look up the museum of menstruation to see all the things that were used before Tampax, Playtex, etc. Ask your doctor, and s/he should know about this (but might not.)  There has never been a case of TSS from a menstrual cup.

Life-style: Using a menstrual cup has only made my lifestyle easier. I don't have to worry about bringing tampons in my purse, or what I will do if I sleep over at a party, etc. Since I have never leaked with it, I don't worry about running or wearing white, or doing a handstand. I also don't need to run to a drugstore to buy tampons, and I never have to spend money on menstrual products for the next 10 years. (You should keep the money you save each month in a jar.)

Ease of Use: At first, I had to get used to it (just like I had to get used to tampons.)  When I first got it, it was a bit hard to get in, but when I tried in the shower, it was fine, and now it is much easier than worrying about applicators, shape of tampon, using a panty liner, too, etc. To get it out, you just have to push down with your muscles and pull it out. I was so excited that I never had to buy tampons again that I called my mom and told her all about it (really. Haha).

Thanks again for participating in my survey. Please do not hesitate to contact me with any questions or comments.




Hi All!

Would you do me the small favor of just filling out these 7 short questions and emailing them back to me? It will take you 3 minutes. It's for a class and also because I'm curious.

Thanks so much!


P.S. - Instead of circling, please type an asterisk by your answers. Thanks!

Menstruation Survey

Name (optional) ____________________ Email (optional) ____________________

Major(s) __________________________

Do you consider yourself a feminist? Yes               No                Sometimes             I Don't Know

1) Have you ever heard of any of the following? (put an asterisk by all that apply)

The Keeper

The Diva Cup


Luna Pads

Other Alternatives to Tampons: ________________

2) Where did you hear about them?

3) Do you use any of the above products?   Which ones?

4) Do you think the prices of tampons and pads are too expensive at drug stores?

5) Would you use an alternative to tampons if the product was easy to use, inexpensive, had to be changed less regularly (example: every 12 hours), proven safe, and was more environmentally friendly?

If no, why not?

6) Has a medical professional ever talked with you about tampon use, research, facts, etc?

7) Has a medical professional ever talked with you about alternatives to tampons, such as the above products?

Anything else you would like to tell me?

Thank you! If you would like to contact me, please email **** at ****.

END of survey
Read the Gilbreth Report, which surveyed college and high school girls in the mid-1920s.

© 2004 Harry Finley. It is illegal to reproduce or distribute work on this Web site in any manner or medium without written permission of the author. Please report suspected violations to