The history of the menstrual cup

Menstrual cups have grown exponentially in popularity over the last few years. They come in so many shapes, sizes, colours and have so many benefits.

They are reusable and can last for over 10 years, making them super environmentally friendly and can save you some pretty pennies. And they’re honestly kind of cute. However, menstrual cups haven’t just been around for the last three years or even 10 years! In actual fact, they have been in production since the 1860s!

Menstrual cups were known back then as “catamenial sacks”, which were attached by a belt to the waist aiding the insertion of the cup. During this time, not many of the initial cups went to market. However, it was in 1937 America, that Leona W. Chalmers patented the first menstrual cup as we would know it today. The “Tassette” as it was called, was the first menstrual device of its kind to be marketed for women’s comfort during their period. During the rubber shortage in WII, Chalmers reinvented her cup again by using a different material - vulcanized rubber. 

Unfortunately, many women weren’t comfortable with the idea of handling their own menstrual blood, due to the stigma surrounding menstruation as something dirty or uncleanly. After 13 years of trading, Tassette had to shut down in 1963 due to the sheer lack of sales.

Then in the late 60s, Tassette inc launched the Tassaway cup which was similar to a menstrual cup but it was still disposable but women still weren't comfortable using a reusable cup. The second generation of menstrual cups just couldn’t compete with the likes of sanitary towels and tampons, and again, went bust in the early 1970s. 

Leaping into the 80s, menstrual cups came back with a bang. In 1987, the Keeper cup was the first latex cup to come on the market and is even still sold to this day. Now we are pleased to say, during the last decade the demand for menstrual cups has exploded. So many more consumers now investigate the menstrual products they use and what impact they have on their bodies and the world around them.

And obviously, we are pleased to announce the birth of our own BeYou menstrual cup! This kind of change in the period product market just demonstrates how if we want something to change, we can. Voting with your dollar, and buying products that truly resonate with you can make big waves in demystifying periods.

We hope you enjoyed this little history lesson on the fabulous invention that is the menstrual cup. Comment below to let us know about any other menstrual cup topics you would like to see and don’t forget to share this with your cycle sisters so you can be a true menstrual cup history buff.

Meet the Author

jess simms

Jess is our Content & Community executive who writes about, well ...everything! She loves talking about period positivity and body positivity and, let's face it, loves a good debate. When she isn't talking about all things BeYou, she has probably got her nose in a book, cuddling her Jack Russell Terrier, Buster 🧚‍♀🐶📖

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