April 17, 2015

Sibu Tales : Menstruation

What did our ancestresses use for their monthly periods?

What did Chinese, Malay, Indian women use duirng the 18th Century?


Sabine Hering and Gudrun Maierhof in "The Indisposed Woman," write that German women almost never used commercial menstrual pads in the late 19th century.

they write, "Most women seemed to have made their own pads, or like rural women, wore neither pads nor underpants. When they menstrauted, they left a trail of blood behind them.

In the USA, women wore commercial belts at least from the latter part of the 19th century. A museum has an American one dated 1891. Self adhesive pads became available only in the early 1970's. Hooks,or tabs were also used.


Today - Self adhesive pads...and tampons....









My maternal grandmother was born in Fujian at the end of the 18th century told us how they used recycled cotton materials, cut from old blouses etc. washed and folded to line their panties during their menstrual period. At night they would secretly wash the stained cloth and dried it discreetly in a secluded place, like under a stair case where no men could see.

By the time I started menstruating, she was already elderly and past her time. She was glad that we could buy Kotex, or Modess, or Daun. In those days, these sanitary pads were only $1.00 per box.

An interesting note : All women who gave birth at the Lau King Howe Hospital had to replace pads they had used. Their husbands or relatives must buy two boxes for the hospital. I would always remember that as I gave birth to two children in the Lau King Howe Hospital.








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