Menstruation Through The Ages In 15 Fascinating Facts.

By Muk Khatri in Facts and DIY On 4th September 2015

#1 Ancient Romans thought menstruating women were basically dark witches

According to Pliny the Elder they could stop hailstorms, whirlwinds and lightening, and kill crops.

Not to mention kill bees, dim mirrors and blunt weapons just by looking at them.

He also thought menstrual blood drove dogs mad.

#2 The Ancient Egyptians used softened papyrus as tampons

Meanwhile, the Ancient Greeks fashioned tampons from bits of wood with lint wrapped round (they also used these for contraception).

The Romans wore pads and tampons made of wool.

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#3 Medieval Europeans burnt toads to ease heavy flow.

The recipe's pretty simple find a toad, burn it in a pot, then wear the ashes in a pouch near your vagina, writes medieval historian Amy License.

#4 The French thought period sex would lead to ‘monsters’ being born.

No nookie on rag week unless you want to give birth to something ‘puny, languid, and moribund, subject to an infinity of fetid maladies, foul and stinking,' thought our friends across the pond, according to The Curse: A Cultural History Of Menstruation.

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#5 Medieval Europeans thought period blood cured leprosy

Well, a nun called Hildegard von Bingen who published medical texts did. However, others thought that having sex with a woman on her period would corrode the penis, and that drinking period blood gave you leprosy, so it was all a bit of a gamble.

#6 Period blood was thought to be an aphrodisiac.

Worryingly, some people still believe this to be true.

African folk magic called Hoodoo advises putting it into a guy's coffee to make him fall for you.

In other cultures, period blood is also thought to have magical powers.

In Hong Kong, an Indonesian maid added her blood to her boss's food to improve their working relationship.

#719th Century Brits thought menstruating women ruined food.

They believed butter wouldn't churn and hams wouldn't take on salt for curing in the hands of a lady on her period.

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#8A Viennese scientist in the 1920s thought menstruating women stopped dough rising and beer fermenting.

Bela Schick believed women on their periods released plant-destroying substances through their skin, which he named menotoxins.

#9 World War I revolutionised sanitary towels

French nurses realised disposable cellulose bandages they used on wounded soldiers absorbed blood better than cotton, and started using them during their periods.

Several brands of disposable pads using similar materials started appearing and, by 1921, brands such as Kotex were popular in the US.

But they had to be used in conjunction with this

#10 From the 1890s to the 1970s western women wore these monstrosities.

Before the 20th century, most western women probably pinned rags or homemade pads inside their clothes.

Then menstrual belts became the norm loops of elastic with thick cotton pads to clip or pin on.

In the 1970s self-adhesive pads finally became available.

#11 An American doctor invented the modern tampon

In 1929 Dr Earle Haas developed a plug of cotton inserted using two cardboard tubes.

He patented his ‘catamenal device', which he trademarked Tampax.

The first ones were made with a sewing machine and a compression machine.

#12 Some women spent their periods in menstrual huts.

The Dogon people of Mali still do.

And, in Nepal, despite the practice being banned in 2005, many women are sent to tiny mud-walled huts called goths.

This is part of a Hindu tradition called chaupadi in which menstruating women are isolated because they are considered unclean.

#13 American high school kids in the 40s and 50s were shown this Disney video to learn about periods.

‘It's smart to keep looking smart. That well-groomed feeling will give you new poise.'

#14 In India there’s a festival based around a period.

In Shaktism, a denomination of Hinduism, the annual period of the goddess Kamakhya is marked.

Pilgrims gather from miles around to honour Ambubachi Mela, the four-day fertility festival each June in Assam, India.

#15 Today, we still pay 5% VAT on sanitary products.

Because they are apparently ‘luxury' items.