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A 'brief' history of period products

Papyrus, menstrual belts and old rags. Just a handful of the weird and wonderful menstrual products used throughout history. Until the 1920s that is.

The roaring twenties saw the creation of the first disposable cotton-acrylic blend pad after the first world war. Why? Well, basically because there were loads of leftover cotton-acrylic bandages stockpiled in warehouses and some marketing whiz decided that using nurses in advertising these revolutionary products would make them catch on as the “hygienic” way to menstruate.

Vintage nurse talking on the telephone

Things haven’t changed much since then unless of course, you count the addition of the adhesive strip. This innovation was followed by the modern tampon as we know it in the 1930s.

In the same decade, the first menstrual cup was also invented by an American actress in 1937, made from latex rubber – but due to shortages in latex rubber supply and the recent introduction of disposable products – the menstrual cup sadly never really caught on.

Fast forward to 2019 and reusable period products are making a comeback. This time think less old rag and more soft, fluffy and decorated with any-kind-of-print-you-could-imagine. What’s more, the latent latex cup has been replaced by the comeback cup made of medical-grade silicone, offering different colours, shapes and sizes.

So what are reusable period products?

There are lots of reusable options to choose from, but you don't have to go to the extremes of sea sponges and crocheted tampons (unless that's your thing of course). Here are some of the more popular choices in reusables, which one works best for you?

Menstrual cup

Lasting up to 10 years and made from leak-proof medical grade silicone, cups are low maintenance and can be worn for 10-12 hours depending on your flow.


Reusable cloth pads

Available in a variety of shapes, sizes and textures, cloth pads keep you leak-free and comfortable. What’s more, they last up to five years.


Period pants

A super-absorbent, leak-resistant option. Made from antimicrobial, washable fibres. Even better, you don’t have to change them throughout the day.


Get involved...

Join in the conversation online using #TrialPeriod to share your experiences of reusable period products.