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read the first, second and third A Note from Germany - read the German version

A Brief Discussion of the Development of Menstruation and Menstrual Hygiene

by Petra Habiger

As there is a big market for menstrual hygiene products in Europe and because of the tremendous variety of different articles, brands and manufacturers with long histories, and also because of the immense wealth of material I have collected I intend to give this series of articles as far as possible a chronological order.

But for a better understanding of menstrual hygiene's history and today's market and advertising policy, I'd like to talk a little about the evolutionary history of menstruation and the origins of the menstrual taboo.

First, some anthropology.

It can be assumed that our ancestors (starting with Homo erectus and Homo habilis down to the primates) did menstruate.

As we know today, human beings and apes probably have one common origin.

In 1890 Emil Selenka wrote about the identity of anthropoid and human placental development.

And in 1899, Ernst Haeckel, professor at the University of Jena, Germany, noticed that among all mammals the apes have the most human-like build.

The two wombs that are characteristic for prosimians and all other mammals are fused to one uterus in apes as well as with human beings.

We could visualize that this similarity also applies to behavior, sense functions, "spiritual" life and brood care.

Sexually mature females of many ape species, especially of anthropoids (orangutans, gibbons, gorillas and chimps), do have a periodical "passing of blood out of the womb corresponding to women's menstruation.


Emil Selenka (1842-1902), professor of zoology and comparative anatomy

Ernst Haeckel, (1834-1919), professor of zoology at the University of Jena, Germany, popularized Darwin's doctrines in the German-speaking world and improves them together with the British biologist Thomas Huxley to the doctrine of evolution respectively of development and ancestry; made up the "basic" rules of biogenetics.


Haeckel, Ernst, "Die Welträtsel," 1899

If you have questions about menstruation or menstrual hygiene, don't hesitate to contact me via e-mail.

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