Vintage Ladies

For those who live and love vintage

Previous Entry Share Next Entry
Menstruation in the 1950s and 1960s
Clean MY Kitchen
betty_homemaker wrote in vintage_ladies
*Just a quick warning*  This post is about women's issues and menstruation.  This post is not about menstrual bleeding but about products and discretion.

After doing a bit of research and talking to a few of the older women in my life a found out how differently our periods are handled now a days. 

Back in the 1950s and 1960s women did not discuss their periods with their boyfriends or husbands in detail if at all.  It was considered an "unhealthy"  and improper topic of conversation.  This can be seen when the topic is mentioned in front of our fathers and grandfathers.  I know my dad cringes and leaves the room if cramps are even eluded to.

Very rarely did women and girls even talk about menstruation with their girl friends.  Women/girls had to rely on their mothers and sisters for the answers to any and all questions.  Some mothers didn't handle the topic themselves but used very vague books written by men to brooch the subject with their daughters.  Sometimes mothers just gave their daughters sanitary pads and didn't even explain them.

As far as menstrual products, tampons were used as were pads but they were MUCH different than today.  Tampons were large(similar to our "supers") and made of cotton or wool.  Some of the brands we use today were used back then as well.

Sanitary pads were a bit different and required more than just the pad.  They were longer with either tabs or loops at the ends.  These tabs or loops attached to a belt that was worn under the panties.    This was before the self sticking pad days.  They were made from cotton, wool or a combination of both.  Wool pads caused chapping but the cotton didn't have a absorbency that wool had.

Another product used was a pad and brief combination much like adult diapers.  Also made of cotton, wool or a blend of the two.

To protect clothing from leaks women worn slips with rubber or plastic panels.  There were also "rubber" pants much like those used on babies. 

Later in the 1960s cloth pads started making a come back.  Women used cotton or wool pads that they could wash and reuse much like cloth diapers.  In the long run they saved money over disposables but added work in the maintenance. 

  • 1
You know about MUM, right? The site design is kind of crazy and hard to navigate, but there's tons of information on it. The current featured article is on sanitary aprons.

I didn't. I'll have to check it out!

That website is absolutely fascinating. A real eye opener.

And the section on the 1920s study, where it has anecdotes about the 'flushable' pads that really weren't...made for an interesting read.

I could read through it for hours, as you really don't ever hear about that kind of thing, yet it's something almost every woman goes/went through.


Interesting tidbit about the super tampons of mid-century: The reasons we have so many absorbency levels today isn't because companies are catering to our comfort. (OK, it sort of is, but there's a bigger reason.) It's because the thinking used to be, "Oh, joy! This Super Tampon will mean that I won't have to change my tampon! It will be like I'm not menstruating at all!" Of course, we all know that's a bad idea today, because women started dying from Toxic Shock Syndrome, caused by the build-up of staph bacteria in their super-ultra-megamax tampons. Wikipedia has a nice summary of the issue.

The other main reaons we have so many varieties of tampons today is that they're not considered a threat to a user's virginity anymore, so younger and younger women started using them, so a smaller tampon was needed. But the Rely tampon scare decreased tampon use in the United States significantly for something like 5 years.

The realization about TSS occurred in the late '70s/early '80s, but the phenomenon had occurred for quite some time without a name.

*glad for menstrual cups*

I was on a ruined Army base, and the women's Loo had a little furnace in it so that the women could burn their pads in it. I was quite puzzled by what it was, until one of the older ladies in our party explained it all to me.

Re: *glad for menstrual cups*

amen to cups! i whole-heartedly consider my cup to be the best $30 ever spent!

Re: *glad for menstrual cups*

Three cheers for cups! I love my Cup. I can't imagine spending all the money and using the products on the market today.

(Deleted comment)
(Deleted comment)

This makes me feel old!

Belted pads were still around when I started menstruating in the very early '80s (okay, started at the end of the '70s if I'm being honest).

My mom always got me adhesive pads, but one summer I was with a friend who had just started and we went to a little general store in the small town in Colorado where she lived to buy pads on our own. We grabbed the first thing we saw, rushed the box to the counter and paid without making eye contact (I think we were 12). When we got them home and opened the box, we saw this long thing with loops and no adhesive. So we duct taped them to our underwear.

Hi ladies! I stumbled over some German O.B. commercials from 1958 and thought you might enjoy them...

"Why won´t she join them?"
Image Hosted by

"We respect grandma, but we´ll just wear O.B."
Image Hosted by

The ads say they come in 3 sizes: normal, plus and minor

These could almost have their own post. I wish they were translated. Plus they are a bit big.

I know they are biiiig.... But I couldn´t find a way to resize them here (I´m a livejournal-novice and the only reasons why my diary here has so many entries is that I copied those from my old blog ;-)

I could go and translate them, but that would take a while due to the looooong texts :-)

A lot of our old public toilets still have the incinerators that you would place your pad in. (disconnected). In Australia your period is still often referred to as 'having your rags', and I'm pretty sure these rags were washed and re-used.

In the 1970's my Mother used cloth pads and washed them for re-use.

  • 1

Log in

No account? Create an account