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.