Menstruation through the ages

We are taking a break from Levi Savage and instead will focus on an issue that is uniquely female. I recently came across a post in one of the Facebook history groups that I follow. The post asked how women in the medieval period dealt with menstruation since they didn’t have the sanitary products available today. This post raised all sorts of questions about beliefs in menstruation and led me to a couple of blog posts that describe it well:His story, her story & Rosalie’s Medieval Woman.

Up until the 20th century (in some cases), menstrual blood was considered poisonous. Under the humoral theory, menstruation was deemed necessary to get rid of excess humors. Without menstruation the humors would build up, with potentially disastrous health effects. Due to the poor diet in the medieval ages, menstruation did not always occur monthly. I showed in a research paper that, based on 2 books from the medieval period, the medical treatments to provoke the menses were very good, since it was such an important thing to take care of.

Even after the humoral theory fell out of favor in the 18th and 19th centuries, menstrual blood still retained a negative connotation through the early 20th centuries.

What did your female ancestors have to deal with re: menstruation? Not only did they have to deal with the inconveniences we know today (pain, leaks, etc.), they also had to deal with very negative connotations about something that is very natural.

 

 

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About bridgingthepast

Welcome to Bridging the Past. We help genealogists connect to their colonial New England ancestors by sharing with them information about the lives of their ancestors. What did they eat? What did they wear? What was a typical day like? Did my ancestor fight in a war? What was life like for that ancestor, and for the loved ones he left at home? Why did they move? Was it part of a larger movement? By answering these questions, and many more, you can bring your ancestors to life and feel closer to them. We design lectures to answer these questions and give genealogists the tools and resources to personally connect with their ancestors by fleshing out the lives of their ancestors so they are more than names, dates and places on a piece of paper.
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2 Responses to Menstruation through the ages

  1. Victo Dolore says:

    This is a fascinating topic!

  2. Seema kenney says:

    Great piece, Lori Lyn! I’m sure many have been curious over the years…

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