Read the Gilbreth Report, which surveyed
college and high school girls in the mid-1920s.
See more Kotex items: First ad
for the pad (1921; scroll to bottom of page) - pad ad, 1928 (Sears
and Roebuck catalog) - Lee Miller pad ads
(first real person in a menstrual hygiene ad, 1928) - Marjorie
May's Twelfth Birthday (booklet for girls, 1928, Australian edition;
there are many links here to Kotex items) - Preparing
for Womanhood (1920s, booklet for girls; Australian edition) - 1920s
booklet in Spanish showing pad disposal method
- box from about 1969 -
"Are you in the know?" ads
for pads (1949)(1953)(1964)(booklet, 1956) -
See more ads on the Ads for Teenagers main page
See a Modess True or False? ad in The American
Girl magazine, January 1947, and actress Carol Lynley
in "How Shall I Tell My Daughter" booklet ad (1955) - Modess . . . . because ads (many dates).
Survey of alternative menstrual products usage, 2004
A student at a large public university in the United States conducted
a small survey among students and others about their knowledge and use of
alternative menstrual products, although the bulk of the text below deals
with menstrual cups. Below are her e-mail to me and the results of the survey;
at bottom is the survey itself.
Thanks for responding to me about your museum. I have conducted some
research and plan to do more. I sent out a survey and then compiled a response
email both are below and the response email is attached. Thanks for all
your great work!
Hi! [Survey Takers],
Remember that tampon survey you filled out a few months ago? Well,
here is the follow up letter. This is long, so be sure to read all
the parts that interest you.
First, thank you for responding. I got more than 30 surveys back and
it seems that we all have amazing stories, and yet very few outlets for
them. This email has 4 purposes:
1) To share with you the survey results
2) To provide some answers to questions many of you asked
3) To explain more about alternative menstrual products
4) To share my personal experience with an alternative menstrual
I am thinking of compiling these results into a play, sort of a Vagina
Monologues type format. So, if you would be interested in being interviewed
further for that, please let me know. Thanks! Also, let me know if
you have any questions or would like more information, and when/if you start
using a new product, let me know how it goes!
1) Survey Results
· The survey
was sent to the **** Feminist Activists of **** list serve and a few other
· A total of
33 surveys were completed
· 30 consider
· 3 consider
themselves feminists "sometimes"
· Many had heard
about tampon alternatives, but only 3 people used them
· Most of those
who had heard about alternatives heard from friends and Internet/magazines/books
· Almost everyone
said that tampon prices are too high
o One person who did not
think they were too high said she didn't have a comparison price, and she
looks for sales
· 80% (4/5) would
use a tampon alternative if it was
o easy to use
o had to be changed less
o was proven safe
o was more environmentally
· reasons people
said they would not use alternatives
o lifestyle changes
o difficult to use
o the word "alternative"
(these concerns are addressed in part 2 of this email.)
· No one had
been spoken to by a medical professional about alternatives
· 2 people said
a medical professional had spoken with them about tampon use
o One of those 2 said, "Yes. At
a gyn appointment it came up that I don't use tampons, and the doctor began
to question me as to why I didn't use them, I said I simply did not want
to. I didn't go into the dangers of most mainstream brands of tampons.
She was shocked that a girl "my age" would not be using tampons. This
was on campus."
· When asked
"Anything else you would like to tell me?" one person wrote "Periods
suck and I've been taught to hate them."
2) Questions from your surveys answered here
Why did you only send this to feminists?
I sent this survey to mostly self-identified feminists because I wanted
to test my own theory that feminists are more open to learning about their
bodies, and more likely to be aware of their health and alternative products
than non-feminists. If feminists/activists don't know about these products
and/or are reluctant to use them, I question if non-feminists would be
receptive to using alternative menstrual products.
What are these products?
The tampon industry has dramatic effects on our health and on the environment. Look
at any advertisement for tampons/pads they probably use shame or embarrassment
to describe menstruation. Periods are natural and we should not be
told that they are gross or unnatural. Products such as the ones I
will describe are safer for our bodies and the environment. For the most
part, they create less waste, place fewer chemicals in your body, and aren't
dyed white to "look clean."
Although this may seem like a funny research topic, there has been
a LOT of research conducted. Look up [MUM board member] Dr. Philip
Tierno. He has done a lot of research about menstruation, etc., and
is internationally known as the man who helped solve the mystery behind
toxic shock syndrome. Also, he is the director of clinical microbiology
and diagnostic immunology at New York University Medical Center and Mt.
Sinai Medical Center, and a part-time associate professor in the departments
of microbiology and pathology at New York University School of Medicine.
So there you have it: people are studying this because it is such a
phenomenon that menstrual product companies have told us that we are gross
and therefore we spend a lot of money and time trying to cover all that
A quote to get you thinking before you read the rest:
"I emerged [from three years of research on menstruation] with
this profound analogy: blood is kinda like snot. How come it's not treated
that way? People with runny noses do not hide their tissues from colleagues
and family members. They do not die of embarrassment when they sneeze in
public. Young girls do not cringe if a boy spies them buying a box
of Kleenex. Caught without a hanky on a cold day, people sometimes
use their sleeves; they are sheepish but not humiliated. They do not
blush or stammer or hide the evidence. No one celebrates congestion. It
is inconvenient and occasionally, when accompanied by a cold, decidedly
unpleasant. But those who suffer publicly-- ah-choo! -- are casually
blessed. It is, in essence, no big deal.
"The same is not true of periods."
-Karen Houppert, The Curse (p. 4)
*There are many alternatives, but I haven't used them all, so I will
give you some sites that are useful. This list is not exhaustive.
*Some menstrual cups:
*Instead: disposable menstrual cup www.softcup.com
*Sea Sponges: reusable, internal menstrual protection option from the
*Cloth, reusable menstrual pads: This includes any rag-like cloth you
stick in your underwear to soak up your flow. It can include carefully-sewn
pads made from a pattern that took years to perfect, or it can be ripped-up
*Student Environmental Action Coalition's info on menstruation and products
has a lot of info!
*Below the Belt Resource Center for Genital, Sexual and Reproductive
4) More info about alternatives to tampons and
pads from ME!
I use a menstrual cup that is made of silicone. It has made me
very happy. It is about 30 dollars, and can be used for 10 years. This
means that I NEVER buy pads or tampons, and therefore create no waste.
The morning of my period, I put in the cup, and since you can leave it in
for 12 hours, I take it out after I'm home from the day, maybe even after
dinner. I wash it well, and then put it back in. When my period
is over, I put it in a little bag it comes with, and don't think about it
again for a month. I have never leaked while using it, and I have never
had to take it out or wash it in public.
Messiness: Menstrual cups do not have a string like tampons that you
can pee and bleed and leak on. Therefore, I don't even have to wear
a panty liner when I wear the cup. Also, I do not find it especially
gross at all. It's true, you do have to see your blood, but the part
of the cup that you touch is not disgusting. And think about it, when
you take out or put in a tampon, you always wash your hands anyway, right? It's
just as "gross."
Comfort: My menstrual cup has always felt like a tampon to me. I
can feel when I put it in, and then I forget about it. Just like a
tampon, but without the annoying string. Putting it in and taking it
out are not painful because you squeeze the bottom so it folds instead of
the pulling the whole thing out. (See web sites.) Also, I wet the cup
a little when I put it in (or do it in the shower) and that feels fine,
even better than putting in a dry cotton tampon.
On the word "alternative:" Actually, this type of menstrual
cup has been used for a long, long time. Look up the museum of menstruation
www.mum.org to see all the things that were used before Tampax, Playtex,
etc. Ask your doctor, and s/he should know about this (but might not.)
There has never been a case of TSS from a menstrual cup.
Life-style: Using a menstrual cup has only made my lifestyle easier. I
don't have to worry about bringing tampons in my purse, or what I will do
if I sleep over at a party, etc. Since I have never leaked with it,
I don't worry about running or wearing white, or doing a handstand. I also
don't need to run to a drugstore to buy tampons, and I never have to spend
money on menstrual products for the next 10 years. (You should keep the
money you save each month in a jar.)
Ease of Use: At first, I had to get used to it (just like I had to get
used to tampons.) When I first got it, it was a bit hard to get in,
but when I tried in the shower, it was fine, and now it is much easier than
worrying about applicators, shape of tampon, using a panty liner, too, etc. To
get it out, you just have to push down with your muscles and pull it out. I
was so excited that I never had to buy tampons again that I called my mom
and told her all about it (really. Haha).
Thanks again for participating in my survey. Please do not hesitate
to contact me with any questions or comments.
Would you do me the small favor of just filling out these 7 short
questions and emailing them back to me? It will take you 3 minutes. It's
for a class and also because I'm curious.
Thanks so much!
P.S. - Instead of circling, please type an asterisk by your answers.
Name (optional) ____________________ Email (optional) ____________________
Do you consider yourself a feminist? Yes
I Don't Know
1) Have you ever heard of any of the following? (put an asterisk by
all that apply)
The Diva Cup
Other Alternatives to Tampons: ________________
2) Where did you hear about them?
3) Do you use any of the above products? Which ones?
4) Do you think the prices of tampons and pads are too expensive at
5) Would you use an alternative to tampons if the product was easy to
use, inexpensive, had to be changed less regularly (example: every 12 hours),
proven safe, and was more environmentally friendly?
If no, why not?
6) Has a medical professional ever talked with you about tampon use,
research, facts, etc?
7) Has a medical professional ever talked with you about alternatives
to tampons, such as the above products?
Anything else you would like to tell me?
Thank you! If you would like to contact me, please email **** at
END of survey
Read the Gilbreth Report, which surveyed
college and high school girls in the mid-1920s.
© 2004 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 firstname.lastname@example.org