German washable menstrual pads and belt, with case (about 1935-40) - nineteenth-century Norwegian washable pads - contemporary washable pads - American belt, about 1945 - directory of belts - washable pad introduction - pad directory - women sometimes wore washable pads with a sanitary apron
Ads for the Kotex stick tampon (U.S.A., 1970s) - a Japanese stick tampon from the 1970s.
Early commercial tampons - Rely tampon - Meds tampon (Modess)
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.


Ads for washable menstrual pads (Teufel brand of Damenbinden, German for menstrual pads), about 1900? from Germany

Women have probably used washable pads for thousands of years, washing them rather than throwing them away, perhaps because of cost and perhaps because of taboos.

My hunch is that commercial washable pads first appeared in the 19th century; women made their own before then and of course still do today (see late 19th or early 20th century Japanese and German instructions for making them).

Below we see commercial German pads from about 1900 (see roughly contemporary Norwegian, Italian and American washable pads, and Japanese pads from slightly later; and see how a modern pad can trick an Indian woman's family and neighbors into giving her more freedom!). They button to a holder and belt, as they also did in the 1930s, even after the German disposable pad Camelia (introduced in the 1920s and, sadly, absorbed by Kotex recently; see an old and recent ad) vied for women's Reichsmarks.

Damen means ladies and Binde means bandage. The U.S. government classifies patents for menstrual pads with bandages, showing a cross-cultural similarity. And the o.b. in o.b. tampon - a German brand before Johnson & Johnson bought it in the 1970s - stands for ohne Binde, without a pad, meaning a tampon. (See an ad from the 1950s and a later German one, from the 70s)

By the way, Teufel means devil in German, something oddly appropriate here, although it's undoubtedly the family name of the manufacturer. In my 13 years in Germany I didn't come across someone with that name, however, a tribute to my clean lifestyle.

(While we're on the subject: Vick's, the cough drop, etc., in Germany is spelled Wicks since Germans pronounce W as the English V.  And the Germans wanted to avoid the "correct" spelling with V - they would have pronounced that as Ficks since the German V sounds like the English F. Maybe more important is that Ficks is a German obscenity for sexual intercourse, almost the English word except for the second letter.)

The ad is from Junker, Almut and Stille, Eva.: Zur Geschichte der Unterwäsche [Towards a History of Underwear]. 1700-1960. Eine Ausstellung des Historischen Museums Frankfurt 28. April bis 28. August 1988. ; FfM, Germany (Historisches Museum) 1988, the catalog of an exhibit of the history of underwear at the museum of the city of Frankfurt am Main, Germany. Unfortunately the catalog does not tell where the ad appeared; it strikes me as being from the manufacturer's catalog - see the last sentence of the page for Teufel's Diana belts, which suggests that.
Americans, suggest to the lady or gent at YOUR hometown museum that it display women's underwear and menstrual gear!! Tell me what she says, if it's printable without a jail term! Hey, a Norwegian town museum did it, as the did one in Frankfurt! That'll convince 'em! Those sinful Europeans!


My translations of title and of two items:
Teufel's simple menstrual pads of down and terry cloth
No. 15. Terry-cloth menstrual pad, simple quality (Damenbinde is literally ladies' bandage; bandage is a word you can see in a menstrual suspenders ad from America). Price per 10, 3 marks
No. 19. Down menstrual pad, better quality. Price per 10, 4 marks

German washable menstrual pads and belt, with case (about 1935-40) - nineteenth-century Norwegian washable pads - contemporary washable pads - American belt, about 1945 - directory of belts - washable pad introduction - pad directory - Women sometimes wore washable pads with a sanitary apron

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