One of the most interesting thing about the modern sanitary pads is that it was originally invented for men.
In all cultures, the hitting of the menstrual cycle is considered a sign that a girl has entered womanhood. For most of human history, women’s menstruation had been linked with various myths and falsehoods, and people didn’t understand the true nature of menstruation cycles. However, now the situation is better. Sanitary pads are a commonplace thing now.
One of the most interesting thing about the modern sanitary pads is that it was originally invented for men. First disposable sanitary pads were wood pulp bandages that were intended to help soldiers stop their bleeding. However, it quickly became popular among women to use these wood pulp bandages as their menstrual pads.
A Sanitary pad is an absorbent that women wear in their underwear during menstruating or in any other instance when blood flows from their vagina. A sanitary pad, also known as a sanitary napkin, sanitary towel, sanitary pad, menstrual pad, or pad, is worn externally unlike tampons and menstrual cups, which are worn inside the vagina.
The menstrual cycle has existed as long as there had been women. And in some shape or form, women have always used Menstrual pads. One of the earliest mentions of the use of menstrual pads was found in a 10th-century book called Suda.
In the book Suda, Hypatia, a woman who supposedly lived in the 4th century AD, is said to have thrown her used menstrual rags at a man who admired and pursued her. In the book, the woman’s action was explained as an attempt to dissuade her admirer from pursuing her. Before the commercialisation of sanitary pads, women generally used cloth rags for absorbing their vaginal blood flow.
Before the invention of disposable sanitary pads, women used homemade pads to absorb their menstrual blood. These pads were often reusable and made from highly absorbent fabrics. When reusable sanitary pads finally hit the market, they were too expensive for many women to afford. It continued for several years. Even when women could afford sanitary pads, they had to buy them indirectly.
For women at that time, the standard practice for buying sanitary pads involved putting their money in a box and took sanitary pads from the counter without asking or, mentioning the word ‘sanitary pads’ to the clerk. It took a long time before sanitary pads became a commonplace thing. However, there are still some places in the world where sanitary pads have yet to become a commonplace thing.
The first disposable pads were a rectangular piece of cotton wool or some similar fiber with an absorbent liner. One of the most common problems with the first disposable pads was their design. They often slipped from their intended location.
Benjamin Franklin invented a special type of bandage to help soldiers stop their bleeding. In doing so, Benjamin also revolutionized disposable menstrual pads. During the war in France, nurses started using the wood pulp bandages, which were originally meant to absorb the bleeding of wounded soldiers. Gradually, everyone recognized the merits of using wood pulp bandages as menstrual pads.
The wood pulp bandages were made from materials that were easy to obtain and cheap enough to throw after use. Kotex was the first company that officially advertised such disposable sanitary pads. The advertisement appeared in 1921.
There has been a lot of innovation in the design and manufacturing of disposable sanitary pads since their original invention. And these innovations are still happening today. Though the first models of disposable sanitary pads were novel for their time, they had quite a lot of defects. The earlier models of disposable sanitary pads were not sufficiently absorbent which often caused leaks. They also had a thickness of nearly two centimeters which naturally made them difficult to wear.
Many innovations were introduced to disposable sanitary pads to make them free of these defects. Some of the major improvements include quilting the lining and reducing the thickness of the pad by using sphagnum and polyacrylate superabsorbent gels.
The Indian government is planning a 12,000 crore Rupee scheme for ensuring access to sanitary pads across India. These pads will be manufactured by the Suvidha brand and cost 1 Rupee/pad. These pads are oxo-biodegradable, meaning they will slowly biodegrade in the presence of oxygen. The original manufacturing cost of each such sanitary pad is roughly 2.50 Rupee.
Goonj is an NGO that has helped to distribute more than 4 million cloth pads across India through its ‘Not Just a Piece of Cloth’ initiative.