Menstruation is the mother of invention

Rose Eveleth presents us a history of patented menstrual devices from 1928 on, from cellular tampons that message you when they need changing to a "Nether garment for and method of controlling crotch odors."

They're really a mixed bag of the inventive and the silly, and ones that sit somewhere in between, like vibrating tampons that are supposed to reduce cramping. The patent illustrations are pretty amazing, though.

Or perhaps you wished your tampons were a little more fun? How about this vibrating one patented in 1988? Or this improved one from 2008? According to the inventor of this device, Steven A. Kilgore, the vibrations of the tampon could alleviate menstrual cramps. "As many women who suffer menstrual cramps are aware, stimulation of the vaginal tract can, under certain circumstances, alleviate the pain associated with menstrual cramp," he writes in the patent filing. As far as I could find, there's no evidence to support the claim that vaginal vibrations alleviate cramps, but Kilgore isn't the only one with a patent on a vibrating tampon. This "Electronically Controlled Wide Band VibratingTampon with Low Disposable Cost" was patented in 2012 by Xu Hua Jiang and Min Lu.

If you're a germophobe and really cannot stand the idea of inserting or removing a tampon, this oven-mit like invention (a "device for sanitary tampon removal and disposal") patented in 1998 has you covered. Literally. If you don't want to feel like you're putting a bun in the oven, you can go for this smaller lighter insertion system patented in 1987.

The Wonderful World of Period Patents
[Rose Eveleth/The Last Word on Nothing]

(via Skepchick)