The Grapevine

What You Need To Know About The Very First Sanitary Pad

One of the most neglected feminine products is sanitary pads. We use them every month, but we are not quite aware of what ingredients are used to make them. Moreover, we are not familiar with how women started using them.

As we all know, sanitary pads, which are also referred to as menstrual pads are considered to be the most widely used method for managing women’s menstrual cycle. It’s easy to use and very much accessible to the majority of the women in the world.

Today, these sanitary pads are made of mostly synthetic and bleached material. However, centuries ago, women use either cotton or rags, most likely sheep’s wool, to manage their menstrual cycle. They would also use knitted pads and rabbit fur in their underwear to stem the flow of their menstrual blood. In some countries, women would use grass.

The concept of disposable menstrual pads first started when nurses were looking for ways to stop any excessive menstrual bleeding. The very first pad was created by French nurses from wood pulp. It was cheap and very absorbent.

Soon after, in the early months of 1888, manufacturers borrowed the idea and started selling the first batch of disposable sanitary pads; these were called the Southball pad. In 1896, American company Johnson & Johnson innovated their own version of the Southball pad called Lister’s Towel: Sanitary Towel’s for Ladies.

All was going well, the only problem was that both the Southball pad and the Lister’s Towel: Sanitary Towel’s for Ladies were uncomfortable and too expensive. As a result, those who couldn’t afford them returned to using the more traditional methods of managing menstrual cycles.

Over the succeeding years, there were those who took a shot at developing and improving the initial design of the Southball pad. There was even a time when an adhesive strip was placed at the bottom of the pad so that it would not fall off and would saddle the panties quite well. This was highly favored and is still used in modern sanitary pads.

After 20 years of perfecting the sanitary pads, these finally became comfortable to wear and accessible to many women.

Employees Employees of Myna Mahila Foundation prepare sanitary pads at their office in Mumbai on April 10, 2018. INDRANIL MUKHERJEE/AFP/Getty Images