The invention of tampons

Tampon Ad 01

Tampons are a properly awesome invention that revolutionised the way women bleed. Well, revolutionised the way we bleed everywhere.

Women have been fashioning tampons out of whatever worked since all of time – one thing that does make sense is to plug the flow, absorb it, and get on with your day. Pads are, and have always been, inferior for mobility and comfort, but more common due to ease.

Apparently the ancient Egyptians were using tampons made from the papyrus plant; the ancient Greeks used lint wrapped around a small piece of wood; and others used wool, paper, vegetable fibres, grass, sponge and of course cotton.

The first modern tampon – with applicator and everything – was invented by a man, Doctor Earle Haas, in the early 1900s – what you will know of now as Tampax. The Tampax brand is still in existence today on your supermarket shelves. Haas sold the design on to Gertrude Tendrich, who then founded Tampax.

Other tampon manufacturers then popped up, namely Johnson & Johnson.

Here are some old adverts for tampons, at a time when some groups were calling for tampons to be banned because they were ‘indecent’.

Tampon Ad 06
Tampon Ad 04
Tampon Ad 02


  1. 1.
    Horwitz R. “Menstrual Tampon”. . Embryo Project Encyclopedia ( 2020-05-25 ). ISSN: 1940-5030 .

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Jessica Lloyd - Vulvovaginal Specialist Naturopathic Practitioner, BHSc(N)

Jessica is a degree-qualified naturopath (BHSc) specialising in vulvovaginal health and disease, based in Melbourne, Australia.

Jessica is the owner and lead naturopath of My Vagina, and is a member of the:

  • International Society for the Study of Vulvovaginal Disease (ISSVD)
  • International Society for the Study of Women's Sexual Health (ISSWSH)
  • National Vulvodynia Association (NVA) Australia
  • New Zealand Vulvovaginal Society (ANZVS)
  • Australian Traditional Medicine Society (ATMS)