New this week: Kotex ad "Are You in the Know?," U.S.A., May 1945 - humor

Would you stop menstruating if you could? (New contributions)
Words and expressions for menstruation (New category, French-speaking Canada - Quebec, and additions to the U.S.A.)
What did European and American women use for menstruation in the past?

first page | LIST OF ALL TOPICS | MUM address | e-mail the museum | privacy on this site | art of menstruation | artists (non-menstrual) | belts | bidets | Bly, Nellie | MUM board | books (and reviews) | cats | company booklets directory | costumes | cups | cup usage | dispensers | douches, pain, sprays | essay directory | extraction | famous people | FAQ | humor | huts | links | media | miscellaneous | museum future | Norwegian menstruation exhibit | odor | pad directory | patent medicine | poetry directory | products, current | religion | menstrual products safety | science | shame | sponges | synchrony | tampon directory | early tampons | teen ads directory | tour (video) | underpants directory | videos, films directory | What did women do about menstruation in the past? | washable pads

Letters to your MUM

Why the Japanese use Engrish in menstrual packaging and advertising


You had two questions on your Web site about Japanese tampon companies using English.

The first one (Why are the instructions for opening the packet in English?) is pretty simple. English is a decorative language in Japan, much in the same way that you'll see random Chinese characters (usually misprinted or completely out of context) on clothes and hats in the U.S. just because it looks cool. Except that in Japan they've been using English as a decorative language for years and years and years now. With something as simple as "open" you really can't go wrong, but for some really funny examples of "Engrish" I recommend your going to (A good example of "Engrish" on your museum's Web site would be the Elddy tampon instructions that say "Let's enjoy tampon life!")

As for the girl saying "ummm," that's also pretty simple. That's just the ad using roman characters to spell out Japanese onomatopoeia (Roma-ji). She's just sighing comfortably.

[The writer later added:]

I'm just a regular Jane Schmoe who happened to grow up in Japan.

You have a GREAT museum!

A woman analyzes some responses to Would you stop menstruating if you could? (toward the top of this page)

Hi Harry,

I got a book for Christmas (a Bust magazine Best-of compilation) with a picture of you in it! So I was finally able to put a face to your name :). [Hope it didn't scare you!] Great interview, by the way. [Nancy Young did a great job asking the questions and writing it up!]

One thing I noticed in the "Would you stop menstruating" comments is that women who started earlier (like age 10 or younger) seem more willing to get rid of it than women who started older. I have some ideas why this may be - what do you think?

[My guess is that most very young girls are neither emotionally nor socially prepared to start menstruating, which can be traumatic. The girl by this time has probably already developed those physical attributes so attractive to males, and is hardly ready to deal with the attention they bring.

[A girl starting later probably has some friends who menstruate and has seen how they handle it. And she has had time to prepare for male behavior, at least more time than the younger ones.

[The bad experiences the young ones accumulate might make them more inclined to reject menstruation, then or late on. And as an added slight, usually the earlier the first period the later the menopause, giving the very ones with bad experiences a longer time to menstruate.]

P.S. I started at 13, a little older than most of my peers and the idea of not getting my periods freaks me out.

Two e-letters about the Instead menstrual cup


Two views of the Instead cup. Read users' comments (also at right). 


 A Kotex pad and belt, about 1990, from a MUM exhibit.
Below: a tabbed pad to be used with a belt, Modess, U.S.A., 1930s.


The maker of Instead menstrual cup likes the site

What a wonderful site! We are presently updating our current Web site and will definitely make a link to yours. As the recently hired president of Ultrafem I was genuinely pleased at your comments.


Mary Frost

[Many thanks! See a dress made of Instead cups and a comparison of Instead with The Keeper cup, the only two cups now available. Read also a history of the menstrual cup.]

Instead: "entirely comfortable," but . . .


Love your site; it was referred to me in a newsgroup trying to figure out what women used in the 18th century (We were discussing historically correct underwear and the lack thereof). [See also What did European and American women use for menstruation in the past?]

Just wanted to make a couple of quick comments.

First, I still remember (and curse!) the belted pads. I hit puberty in the early Eighties and Mum got me the blessed things for about the first year until she realized that I was using her adhesive ones instead.

The one thing I'll say for the belted ones is that they are secure, being held snugly against the body by much stronger elastic than underwear is made of. The problems with bunching don't tend to occur so much (as a side note, I tend to use thicker pads at night simply because they don't bunch as much as the thinner ones and I feel more secure at night with them). The one downside to the belted ones, and it's a biggie, is the way the cursed things ride up your ass. It's like wearing a thong! For a while I actually considered tying a popsicle stick horizontally to the rear elastic strap to hold the blessed thing out. Nothing like spending a week of high school each month trying to subtly pry a sanitary napkin out of your bum. So that didn't last long! And you may be sure that I switched to tampons soon thereafter.

And a few years ago I tried Instead, which was great! I had no problems with insertion or removal, and as it can be difficult to impossible to have the time free to visit the loo at my work it was nice to not have to change the thing half-way through a shift. And so far as having a mess on your hands in a public washroom, well, you're sitting right next to a roll of toilet paper; wipe your hands off! Even if it spills you can wipe off enough that no one else in the restroom will notice when you go to wash your hands. And if you end up with blood under your nails, just pull the pad of your finger back while running hot water over your nails (hold your finger under the flow of water). Removing the blood from under your nails is only even remotely taxing if it's dried there. The fresh stuff rinses right off.

By the way, I'm back to tampons. As much as I liked and recommend Instead I don't use it any more for the simple reason that there's no string. They are so entirely comfortable that without that little dangling reminder I sometimes forget I've got it up there, and I'm afraid that I'll accidentally leave the last one in until I go to insert another one a month later and find it! But I had no problems with leakage or discomfort, and I do have a tipped uterus. I would recommend, however, that if one finds that it tends to leak after so many hours, instead of lasting the maximum amount of time as per the instructions, that you remove it earlier. The box says "up to" twice as long as for a tampon; the length of time depends on your flow! But I'm stating the obvious.

Anyway, so much for the "quick" comments.. Thanks for the site!

(from Canada, where you can still get Instead in the new millennium!)

Two e-letters about using sphagnum moss in pads

Hi Harry!

I couldn't find much about menstruation and moss [someone last week asked about it], except a marketing site discussing an advertising campaign for Johnson & Johnson Stayfree Ultrathin pads [read the letter about this, below]:

The site says that the pads contain sphagnum moss as an absorbent. The J&J site only says that the pads contain "Earth's Most Absorbent Natural Fibers - a patented natural absorbent core which pulls fluid in and locks it away."

I also found a few passing references to it being used in Alaska to make menstrual pads and nappies (diapers). No concrete evidence or pictures, though.

This site had lots of nice pictures of moss:

I also came across this Encyclopedia Britannica entry which describes the menarcheal taboos of the Athabascan Indians:,5722,127682,00.html

I found a paper about the antibiotic properties of some of the chemicals in sphagnum moss, so it might have had other beneficial properties as a menstrual absorbent, since infections are most likely during menstruation:

Basile A, Giordano S, Lopez-Saez JA, Cobianchi RC.

Antibacterial activity of pure flavonoids isolated from mosses.

Phytochemistry. 1999 Dec;52(8):1479-82.

On the other hand, sphagnum moss can be associated with a pathogenic fungus, Sporothrix schenckii, which can cause a nasty (but not usually dangerous) infection of the skin requiring long courses of antifungals to clear up: Kauffman CA, Hajjeh R, Chapman SW. Practice guidelines for the management of patients with sporotrichosis. Clin Infect Dis. 2000 Apr;30(4):684-7.

Hajjeh R, McDonnell S, Reef S, Licitra C, Hankins M, Toth B, Padhye A,

Kaufman L, Pasarell L, Cooper C, Hutwagner L, Hopkins R, McNeil M.

Outbreak of sporotrichosis among tree nursery workers.

J Infect Dis. 1997 Aug;176(2):499-504.

There were a few other papers on similar lines, so if anyone wanted to try making their own sphagnum pads, they should make sure it's well sterilized - fungal spores are tough.

[From Anna Simpson, an English molecular biologist who has generously tracked down many items for this Web site. She and her husband have two cats - and two rats! - and she just explained to me via e-mail the genetics of cats' coloration. If it sinks in, I will finally be a DIM - Doctor of Internet Medicine (genetics).

[At the bottom of her e-mail was

"It might look like I'm doing nothing, but at the cellular level I'm really quite busy."

"If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the precipitate."]


I've visited your site before and it's really grown since I visited last. It's a great site and I hope you find a good (real) site for your museum soon.

As for sphagnum moss, several (hm, maybe 8? 10?) years ago Johnson & Johnson began marketing a new "ultra-thin" pad, that contained a natural absorbent, sphagnum moss. I remember that the sphagnum moss was featured in their advertising. Because I thought this would be environmentally friendly, and because I hated pads at the time (wearing mostly tampons), I tried it out. Although I'm still not big on pads, it was one of the best (and truly thinnest) I'd tried, and I've bought it since.

I recently wondered whether the pads still contained the dried moss, and I thought I'd better investigate how the moss was harvested - I don't want to be responsible for the destruction of wetland ecology if wild peat moss was being harvested. When I read your question for info on your site, I went to my bathroom cupboard to check if the pads still contained moss. They do! Johnson & Johnson doesn't advertise it anymore.

The pads are marketed under the name "Stayfree Prima" and come in a variety of absorbencies, etc. The packaging notes that the pads have a "Fluid Lock Core" and that you get "Great protection from a pad four times thinner than a thick maxi." That rather vague statement was also in their original ads, I believe. Perhaps they are not available in the States, but they are sold in Canada.

The full info (including contact info) on the package is as follows. I'm sure their reps would send you more info, but if they don't send you a sample, let me know and I'll send you a package. [Many thanks!]

Stayfree Prima

Made in Canada, copyright Johnson & Johnson Inc. 1999

Johnson & Johnson Inc.

Montreal H1N 2G4

Canadian Patent / Brevet Canadien 2,057,656

Other Patents Pending/ Autres Brevets en instance

Johnson & Johnson Inc., RD./ENR., 1989 OR/OU 1991

? or comments 1-800-361-8068

Thanks for a great site, keep up the good work!

A Swedish woman suggests why I started the museum


You seem to get lots of comments and theories about your being male and running a museum about such a female topic.

My theory is simple: you are a collector who has found his niche. Some people collect stamps, some collect movie tickets, some collect musical instruments, books, cars, posters, pokemon stuff, comic books, etc, so why not tampons?!

[True, but also read FAQ.]

1960s Playtex tampon ad: ray gun for his space station? A man writes,


"Playtex invents the first-day tampon"

April 1968

When I was a kid, I remember frequently seeing and being fascinated by one print ad (1968, at left) with some kind of space-age, clear plastic tube being peered through by a model's eye with colorful ultra-mod makeup on it.

That image gave this young (eight years old) boy the idea that this product had something to do with Twiggy, Babarella, 2001: A Space Odyssey and Yellow Submarine, all pop cultural icons I knew at the time. But I had no idea what it was!!! It seemed like an object from another planet that I knew nothing about. And I wanted one! It would have made a cool ray gun for my space station!!!

Later, finding Susan Dey (from The Partridge Family) in Tampax ads in some old magazines (from her pre-Partridge, modeling days) only added to the confusion.

Now that I'm grown up, can someone tell me what these weird ads were actually all about???
[Boy, where do I start? I've always said men should visit this museum as well as women.]

P.S. You may already have this ad on your site? [No.] Attached is the best digital photo I could snap. My camera is just a "starter" and won't quite shoot close-up. We'll call it "The Peter Max Tampon Ad." [Peter Max was a famous maker of posters in the 1960s especially; he recently has again popped up in the art scene.

[See a Kotex box from about 1969 - almost the same year - that also gives a sci-fi impression.]

The best endorsement is "I can't go to bed until I finish your site"! A woman writes,

I'm up WAAAAAAAAY past my bedtime, but I just wanted to let you know that I stumbled on to the MUM Web site completely by accident tonight and then dropped over two (maybe three???) hours exploring it all. Fascinating stuff!

Thanks for putting it all together and making it available. Time for me to crash, and hard. But the site is terrific.


A TV production company asks, "Did you celebrate your period?"

If you had a party or created a ritual to celebrate your first period, we would be interested in hearing your story and seeing your videos, pictures.

This would be for possible inclusion in a television documentary called
Reinventing Rituals, Coming of Age in a Modern World for Vision Television, in Canada.

Series consultant is Ron Grimes, internationally recognized expert on ritual and the author of numerous books on ritual including his most recent, Deeply Into the Bone, Reinvented Rite of Passage.

These three one hour specials, Coming of Age in the Modern World; Marriage Separation and Divorce; and Birth and Death are co-production between Northern Lights Television in Toronto and Ocean Entertainment in Halifax for Vision Television Network. They will air on Vision TV, a Canadian specialty channel whose mandate is to cover multi-faith, multicultural stories about the human spirit.

Reinventing Rituals will explore exotic cultures and ceremonies that may, on the surface, bear little resemblance to the hallmarks of our own lives. We will witness dramatic initiation ceremonies from Africa, complex funerals from New Guinea, and elaborate wedding and courtship rituals from South America. Viewers will become acquainted with traditional rites from many different cultures, contemporary and historic.

However, at the core of this series are the North Americans who are exploring new ways to mark transitions. We'll meet parents who are preparing to spend their children out in the mountains to spend grueling days and nights in initiation ceremonies; individuals who are approaching the end of life determined to design all aspects of their own funerals; and expectant couples who are redefining appropriate behaviour in the birthing room. This series is about these men and women and their quest to reinvent traditional rites of passage; but it's also about the connections that can be drawn between these modern pioneers and their counterparts in other times and places.

Program #1 The Bridge: Coming of Age in the Modern Reinventing Rites of Passage.

Reinventing Rituals is a compelling series of television documentaries that explore the dramatic resurgence in ritual and how it is being interpreted or recreated in order to give meaning to our lives.

From first menstruation ceremonies to vision quests, traditional societies have used ritual to help young people mark and make the transition from adolescence to adulthood. All but abandoned by Western culture, initiation rituals are suddenly becoming more popular.

The increasing profile of street gangs, drug wars, and teenage promiscuity in our communities have contributed to rising the popularity of the coming of age rituals. Many parents fear that if they do not provide an initiation scenario their children will initiate themselves using sex, drugs or dangerous behaviour. By enrolling their children in complex and often dramatic initiation rites, families can help young people make the difficult transition to adulthood. In this program we meet youth at the National Rites of Passage Institute in Cleveland Ohio who have spent the past year in a coming of age program. And then we'll join up with teenagers who've enrolled in a 10 day-long program outside Calgary, Alberta as they prepare to spend three World

If you are interested and/or need more information, contact

Deannie Sullivan Fraser

902-423-9056 phone

902-423-9058 fax


Washable-pad company for sale

Gayle Adams, owner of Feminine Options, wants to sell the company to someone willing to put time and energy into it. The Food and Drug Administration has already approved its products.

Call Gayle at (715) 455-1652 (Wisconsin, U.S.A.).

[See and read about washable pads.]

Money and this site

I, Harry Finley, creator of the museum and site and the "I" of the narrative here, receive no money for any products or services on this site. Sometimes people donate items to the museum.

All expenses for the site come out of my pocket, where my salary from my job as a graphic designer is deposited.

You have privacy here

What happens when you visit this site?


I get no information about you from any source when you visit, and I have no idea who you are, before, during or after your visit.

This is private - period.

Is this the new millennium or even century?

You can get the correct information if you go to these pages published by the U S Naval Observatory: (that`s a capital "i" in


A comprehensive site from the Royal Observatory, Greenwich will put right any doubts:

Tell Your Congressperson You Support the Tampon Safety and Research Act of 1999! Here's How and Why

Help Wanted: This Museum Needs a Public Official For Its Board of Directors

Your MUM is doing the paper work necessary to become eligible to receive support from foundations as a 501(c)3 nonprofit corporation. To achieve this status, it helps to have a American public official - an elected or appointed official of the government, federal, state or local - on its board of directors.

What public official out there will support a museum for the worldwide culture of women's health and menstruation?

Read about my ideas for the museum. What are yours?

Eventually I would also like to entice people experienced in the law, finances and fund raising to the board.

Any suggestions?

Do You Have Irregular Menses?

If so, you may have polycystic ovary syndrome [and here's a support association for it].

Jane Newman, Clinical Research Coordinator at Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard University School of Medicine, asked me to tell you that

Irregular menses identify women at high risk for polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), which exists in 6-10% of women of reproductive age. PCOS is a major cause of infertility and is linked to diabetes.

Learn more about current research on PCOS at Brigham and Women's Hospital, the University of Pennsylvania and Pennsylvania State University - or contact Jane Newman.

If you have fewer than six periods a year, you may be eligible to participate in the study!

See more medical and scientific information about menstruation.

New this week: Kotex ad "Are You in the Know?," U.S.A., May 1945 - humor

Would you stop menstruating if you could? (New contributions)
Words and expressions for menstruation (New category, French-speaking Canada - Quebec, and additions to the U.S.A.)
What did European and American women use for menstruation in the past?

first page | LIST OF ALL TOPICS | MUM address | e-mail the museum | privacy on this site | art of menstruation | artists (non-menstrual) | belts | bidets | Bly, Nellie | MUM board | books (and reviews) | cats | company booklets directory | costumes | cups | cup usage | dispensers | douches, pain, sprays | essay directory | extraction | famous people | FAQ | humor | huts | links | media | miscellaneous | museum future | Norwegian menstruation exhibit | odor | pad directory | patent medicine | poetry directory | products, current | religion | menstrual products safety | science | shame | sponges | synchrony | tampon directory | early tampons | teen ads directory | tour (video) | underpants directory | videos, films directory | What did women do about menstruation in the past? | washable pads

privacy on this site

© 2001 Harry Finley. It is illegal to reproduce or distribute work on this Web site in any manner or medium without written permission of the author. Please report suspected violations to