Although the menstrual cup has been democratised in recent years, in reality it is a very old form of periodical protection.
Ready to learn more about the history of the cup?
Late 19th century: the ancestors of the menstrual cup
In the late 19th century, several patents were filed. All in the USA, all by men, concerning "catamenial receptacles" - which is obviously what future menstrual cups were called at the time.
For etymological information, catamenial comes from the ancient Greek cata- (prefix used to form words with the idea of decay, resorption, as in catastrophe or cataclysm...) and -menial (derived from month). This is it.
Come on, let's show you these "wonders":
In 1867, a patent was filed by S.L. Hockert, an inventor based in Chicago: it was a container, terminated by a string, itself connected to a belt. We have not found any information about other inventions by this person. It is not known if this device was actually made, but it is considered the first ancestor of the menstrual cup.
In 1884, a patent was filed by Hiram G. Farr, an eclectic inventor from Boston (since he was also responsible for wagon wheels, an engine combining compressed air and steam and a device to reduce vehicle noise!): this time, a "cup" was positioned in the vagina, but it ended in a tube leading to a pouch located in the panties. Ideal for (very) heavy periods!
Subsequently, in 1892, Julius J Vernier also started working on the subject. He first patented an internal cup and an external soft pouch, then improved it in 1893 by giving it a 'support' in the form of a belt with cables. Again, it is impossible to know if this device was ever produced.
Finally, in 1901, Jacob R Lang also took an interest in the subject and invented this technological gem. It is an asymmetrical cup, which the inventor tells us should have been made of hard rubber. It has an opening at its base, closed by a screw cap (mark B on the drawing). This menstrual cup is the first one that does not have a support as such, but is held in the vagina by muscles.
1932: La Daintette
The Dainty Maid company, based in Connecticut, USA, registered two patents in 1932 and 1935 and produced the Dainty Maid cup in green opaque rubber.
This model is not available in Europe.
1935: Leona W. Chalmers
Leona W. Chalmers, an American actress, filed a patent that made her the acknowledged inventor of the menstrual cup. Her last known portrait is the cover of this article.
Perhaps because she had it produced before the Daintette, the documents remain rather vague on this subject?
Leona W. Chalmers' cup began to be produced just before World War II in vulcanised rubber. But with the war, all rubber was requisitioned in the USA, and she had to stop production of her menstrual cups.
1939: The Tassette
Also in the United States, Robert P. Oreck bought the patent rights from Leona W. Chalmers and founded Tassette Inc.
He communicated massively (he even rented billboards on Broadway), but he came up against the puritanism of his fellow citizens.
La Tassette will be a "white operation" in the sense that it will not make any money.
Production stopped in 1963, Oreck explaining his failure by two factors: firstly, the reluctance of women of his time to wash and reuse a hygiene product (at a time of unbridled consumption, the 30 Glorious), but also the durability of the product, which meant that satisfied women did not need to buy another one.
But Tassette Inc. is not dissolved for all that...
1970: The Tassaway
... Tassette Inc. is launching the Tassaway, a single-use menstrual cup designed to remove the disincentives to menstrual cup development identified by Robert P. Oreck with the Tassette: women no longer have to wash it, and they have to re-purchase.
But in 1972, Tassette Inc. was suspected of financial fraud, which led to its demise.
However, Tassaway cups continued to be sold in the Netherlands until 1973.
1984: The Keeper
Lou H. Crawford launches The Keeper in Cincinatti, Ohio (USA). The company is still in existence.
The Keeper menstrual cup is made of latex in the USA, and the company also manufactures the MoonCup USA, which is different from the European model but also made of silicone.
2000s: increasing number of brands
Dozens of brands are being created all over the world. Almost all of them are based on the first patents, which are now in the public domain.
The main differences between brands are in the design of the stem (solid or hollow, with balls or stripes), the colours offered (there are all colours, even with glitter!), and the quality of the material used.
2015: La Cup Luneale
Teolab registers the patent that serves as the basis for the Luneale cup: a new generation menstrual cup, without stem, more ergonomic.
The stem is replaced by a "pre-pinched" grip area called the MoonPad. The top ring is also improved, with a teardrop profile, for a better seal.
This patent Luneale, the first French innovation in menstrual cups, is now registered internationally.
First of all, bravo and thank you if you have reached the bottom of this article (leave us a comment as a proof of your passage here, like we mark the summit of Everest with a flag!)
We sincerely hope you enjoyed it and learned something.
So, do you have any idea what innovations in menstrual cups will be coming in the next few years? What are you missing? What could be improved? In short, how could we make menstruation smoother? Don't hesitate to tell us, because after all, Luneale was built with you!