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.
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 as Tampax, which 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’.