Menstruation Facts And Figures

In a 1977 quality of life survey conducted by the Louis Harris Research Institute, British women rated disposable hygiene products second place only to electrical household goods as having had the most beneficial impact on 20th century lifestyles.
  • There are 15 million woman who of menstrual age in the UK.
  • The average age for commencement of menstruation is 12.5 years. Due to improved diet and lifestyles, this is much earlier than would have been the case around 150 years ago when the average age would have been 17 years.
  • On average a woman will menstruate until she is fifty years old, for an average total of 37.5 years. During which time she will menstruate around 500 times.
  • Menstrual cycles vary but on average there are 13 per year.
  • A woman will menstruate for an equivalent duration of 6.5 years of her life.
  • Average menstrual flow is around 85g per cycle.
Product History
  • Ancient Egyptians sued rolled Papyrus leaves to make primitive tampons.
  • Ancient Tribes used natural materials, usually grasses, moss etc.
  • Early forms of tampons were in use some 2,000 years ago
  • The modern sanitary towel/pad was invented during the early part of the last century. Dr White’s was the first towel. It was very bulky. Modern pads and liners are very discreet and are held in place by adhesive strips.
  • During the 1990’s new ‘ultra’ style highly absorbent thin pads came onto the market. These thin towels helped to regain the popularity of pads.
  • A doctor in the USA invented the first tampon for his wife, a nurse. She encouraged development of a more suitable product to be placed on the market. The resulting product was marketed by Tampax in the USA in 1937 and reached the UK market by 1939. This new product was met with a great deal of resistance from politicians and the clergy. Bishops complained in the House of Lords about these ‘sinful products.’
  • Until as late as the 1950’s, every packet of tampons had to carry the warning ‘Not suitable for unmarried women’ for fear that virginity might be impaired, which was of course untrue. To this day however, in predominately Catholic countries, sales of pads are notably higher than tampons.
  • Early tampons had paper applicators. Digital/non-applicator tampons (inserted with the finger) were launched in the 1940’s. Applicators are made from either paper or plastic.
Product Usage
  • Around 22 items of sanitary protection are used per cycle and around 11,000 will be used in a lifetime.
  • 4.3 billion items are used per year in the UK.
  • Re-useable menstrual hygiene products such as menstrual cups have gained popularity in recent years.
  • Liners are very adaptable products used to absorb everyday discharge, for extra protection during a period or for when menstrual flow is very light. Many women choose to use pant liners for personal freshness throughout the month.
  • Women also use pads following childbirth for around one month, for the absorption of lochia.
  • Many women choose to use a combination of towels, tampons and pant liners for their person hygiene requirements.
  • 2001 saw reduction in VAT on sanitary protection from 17.5% to 5%. In the 2015 it was announced that the Government would set up a new scheme to provide grants to women’s charities, funded by receipts form VAT on sanitary protection.