Several of these are references to patents for menstrual gear. Which may never have been actually produced or available for women to use/buy. While many are not actually pads as such, and have no proof of them having actually existed, they are included here for the fact they show historic blood catchment devices that may be of interest. The history of menstrual cups/internal devices has its own page.
I also have a site which catalogues the menstrual apparatus patents I could find – catamenialpatents.wordpress.com
- Norwegian knitted pads, which would appear to be a knitted holder (They look like they would have something placed inside them) worn with a belt.
- German Pad making instructions.
- Folded terry Cloth pad
- 1858 – Patent for a belted menstrual pad (perhaps the first commercially available pad?) – Jensen Catamenial Bandage
- 1867 – Patent for perhaps the first menstrual cup-like (internal catchment) device – The Hocket Catamenial Sack
- 1878 – Patent for a disposable pad to be worn with a belt (an early version of a disposable pad?) – Korff Catamenial Sack
- 1888 – Southall’s disposable pad (The first commercial disposable pad?)
- 1895 – Hartmann’s disposable pad advertised in a London (Harrod’s) catalogue.
- 1896 – Lister’s Towel (A Johnson & Johnson brand) It only lasted until mid 1920s.
- 1914 – Menstrual apron. A large rubber lined piece covered the buttocks protecting clothing, and a holder between the legs to hold absorbency.
- 1920 – Curads, a bandage manufacturer, also brings out a disposable pad. See Advertisement here
- 1920 – Patent for a belted, almost underpants style menstrual pad – Aki Miyomoto Catamenial Belt
- 1921 – The Kotex disposable pad was first advertised.
- 1933 – Tampax applicator tampon patented (non-applicator tampons were being used already – though I’m not sure when they first came out, “tampon” was a name used for an item that was inserted into the vagina for administering medications before it became used for menstrual bleeding, so early menstrual tampons did not use the term “tampons”)
- 1935-1940 dated German washable pad with belt
Products like the Lister’s Towel failed because of a lack of publicity, as this was back in a time where advertising menstrual products was not as open as it is today. Kotex would appear to be the first of these early disposable menstrual pads to really take off, since it is still in production today.
Feminine Hygiene products advertisements from the 1920s to 1950s. Early Tampon brands and packaging. Early menstrual cups/internal devices
Apparently cloth menstrual pads made a comeback around the 1970s, with their popularity increasing in the late nineties and early noughties (don’t you love that term!). It seems that with the return to cloth nappies/diapers thanks to “modern cloth” that mothers are returning to cloth nappies/diapers, which in turn creates more awareness to cloth pads that draws in other women. When I started using them in 1999 there was not much information on the Internet about them, and very few shops selling them – compared to now where there a hundreds of sites talking about them and perhaps hundreds of stores selling them.