A journey through time: History of menstruation.

Menstruating is a natural and universal aspect of all female reproductive cycles. Women have experienced periods since long before recorded history, making it an integral part of their identity and unique rhythm.

While we've made significant progress in understanding menstruation and the products available for managing our monthly cycles, there is still work to be done in shifting the narrative about our periods toward a more positive perspective. It's intriguing that, despite its inherent naturalness, many women still harbor negative perceptions and narratives about something as natural as breathing: our menstrual cycle. 

Have you ever wondered how female hygiene products came to be? Or what was used in ancient civilizations to manage the menstrual period? Or have you ever wondered why most women have negative perceptions and narratives about their period? 

Ancient Times: Blood is Sacred

In ancient civilizations, menstruation was often intertwined with myths, rituals, and religious beliefs. For example, in ancient Egypt, the menstrual cycle was linked to the lunar calendar and considered a symbol of fertility and renewal.
Similarly, in ancient Greece, menstrual blood was thought to possess unique powers, with some believing it could be used for magical or medicinal purposes and they would spread it on the earth to increase fertility. Women back then would wrap lint around wood or fashion homemade rags to catch the blood. 

The earliest records of period management suggest that women in the Stone Age (circa 30,000 BCE–3,000 BCE) had rudimentary pads made of leather and linen-wrapped moss and sand.

Periods in the Middle Ages: Misconceptions:

The shame around periods kicked into high gear in the Middle Ages (5th–14th century). Due to influences from religion and a lack of understanding of biology, menstruation became a shameful taboo. There were beliefs that menstrual blood had the potential to harm crops, dull mirrors, and even endow individuals with the ability to emit poisonous vapors through their eyes.

Religious shame caused people to go to great lengths to hide their periods and even believe that cramps were divine punishment for Eve’s original sin. Since cramps were seen as a punishment pain relief medicine (mostly herbal remedies at the time) was not offered. 

During this era, the most common approach to managing blood was using cloth rags as DIY sanitary pads or bleed feedly.  

The Modern Age: not so modern

During the Modern Age (15th–19th century), periods were still taboo. It’s no shock then that people kept menstruation products secret — and rudimentary at best.

As medical knowledge advanced during the Renaissance, so did the understanding of menstruation. Early modern physicians, all men, began to explore the anatomy and physiology of the female reproductive system. However, misconceptions persisted, and menstruation continued to be shrouded in mystery.

From the 1890s to the early 1980s, people used sanitary belts, which were reusable pads that attached to a belt worn around the waist – and yes, they were as uncomfortable as they sound.

The first disposable pads hit the market in 1888 (Lister’s Towels by Johnson & Johnson), and in the early 20th century, WW1 nurses used cellulose bandages in place of their reusable ones.

20th Century: beginning of transformation

The 20th century witnessed a transformative period in the history of menstruation, marked by the emergence of the menstrual hygiene movement. Activists and advocates worked tirelessly to debunk myths, challenge societal taboos, and improve menstrual education. Menstrual products evolved, with the invention of tampons and in recent years, more eco-conscious and sustainable products such as menstrual cups and period underwear. 

 As we navigate the present and shape the future, it's essential to honor the struggles of the past, celebrate achievements, and work towards a world where menstruation is embraced without shame or barriers.

Lunam is more than period underwear, we are a movement to re-write the period story and offer a holistic approach to period wellness. 

Discover our eco-conscious and sustainable period underwear and our moon-blessed aromatherapy archetype products.

Written by: Catalina Sardi

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