· By Period Harmony
From Petticoats to Periods: A Look at Menstrual Management in the past.
In the tapestry of women’s history, periods have had a complex and often whispered narrative. This is particularly true when we journey back to 18th century United Kingdom, a period marked by elegant petticoats, powdered wigs, and a societal hush about 'ladies' issues.'
Menstruation: The Silent Script
In 18th century UK, discussing menstruation was as taboo as wearing trousers to a ball. Information was passed down quietly, often woman to woman, shrouded in euphemisms and secrecy.
Makeshift Materials and Menstrual Management
The women of this era, like their sisters across time, were resourceful and resilient. Without modern comforts like Period Harmony patches, they relied on homemade solutions to manage their monthly flow. These ranged from reusable rags, often referred to as 'clouts,' to natural materials like moss or cotton cloth. These items were washed, dried, and reused, making the practice both sustainable and secretive.
Social Practices and Period Etiquettes
An unwritten code of etiquette dictated that women withdraw from public life during their 'monthly visitor.' This social seclusion was often presented under the guise of 'taking to one's bed' due to 'lady ailments.' However, these etiquettes were largely applicable to the upper class, while working women continued their laborious daily routines, often in discomfort and difficulty.
Women's Health and Period Pain Relief
Pain management during menstruation in the 18th century was primarily based on folklore and natural remedies. Women used warming pans and hot stones to soothe cramps. It's no surprise that women's health was rarely addressed with the seriousness it deserved, largely due to the gender biases prevalent in medical practices of the time.
Looking back at menstrual management in the 18th century UK reminds us how far we've come in our understanding and approach towards periods. It also underscores the continued need for open dialogues about menstruation and the importance of affordable, effective, and environmentally friendly menstrual products.
In our journey from petticoats to period harmony patches, let's continue to break the silence and celebrate the resilience of women and menstruators, both past and present. After all, every step we take in the direction of menstrual well-being is a tribute to the people who've walked this path before us.