A sanitary towel, sanitary pad, sanitary napkin, Maxi pad (U.S.), menstrual pad, or pad is an absorbent item worn by a woman while she is menstruating, recovering from vaginal surgery, for lochia (post birth bleeding), abortion, or any other situation where it is necessary to absorb the flow of blood from the vagina.
These pads are not to be confused with incontinence pads, which are worn by men or women who have urinary incontinence problems or experience stress incontinence. An incontinence pad is a similar item to a menstrual pad, perhaps with a high absorbency. Menstrual pads may be used by some people for this purpose.
Through the ages women have used different forms of menstrual protection. Menstrual pads have been mentioned as early as the 10th century, in the Suda, where Hypatia, who lived in the 4th century AD, was said to have thrown one of her used menstrual rags at an admirer in an attempt to turn him off. The Museum of Menstruation has articles and photos of some early forms of menstrual protection, including among other things knitted pads and menstrual aprons. Women often used strips of folded old cloth (rags) to catch their menstrual blood, which is why the term "on the rag" is used to refer to menstruation.
Disposable menstrual pads appear to have been first commercially available from around 1888 with the Southall's pad. Disposable pads had their start with nurses using their wood pulp bandages to catch their menstrual flow, creating a pad that was made from easily obtainable materials and inexpensive enough to throw away after use. Kotex's first advertisement for products made with this wood pulp appeared in 1921. Several of the first disposable pad manufacturers were also manufacturers of bandages, which could give an indication of what these products were like.
Until disposable sanitary pads were created, cloth or reusable pads were widely used to collect menstrual blood. Women often used a variety of home-made menstrual pads which they crafted from various fabrics, leftover scraps, grass, or other absorbent materials, to collect menstrual blood. Many probably used nothing at all. Even after disposable pads were commercially available, for several years they were too expensive for many women to afford.When they could be afforded, women were allowed to place money in a box so that they would not have to speak to the clerk and take a box of Kotex pads from the counter themselves. It took several years for disposable menstrual pads to become commonplace. However, they are now used nearly exclusively in most of the industrialized world.
The first of the disposable pads were generally in the form of a cotton wool or similar fibrous rectangle covered with an absorbent liner. The liner ends were extended front and back so as to fit through loops in a special girdle or belt worn beneath undergarments. This design was notorious for slipping either forward or back of the intended position.
Later an adhesive strip was placed on the bottom of the pad for attachment to the saddle of the panties, and this became a favoured method with women. The belted sanitary napkin quickly became unavailable after the mid-eighties.
The ergonomic design of the pad also changed through the 1980s to today. With earlier materials not being as absorbent and effective, and early pads being up to two centimetres thick, leaks were a major problem. Some variations introduced were quilting of the lining, adding "wings" and reducing the thickness of the pad by utilising products such as sphagnum. The ergonomic designs changed over the years; for example, the Australian Libra brand initially had a pad that was wider at the front, tapering at the back to provide a more aesthetic appearance; the current variation now has a wide dovetail at the back, giving functionality a higher priority.
Cloth menstrual pads made a comeback around the 1970s, with their popularity increasing in the late 80s and early 90s. Some popular reasons why women choose to switch to cloth menstrual pads include the following: comfort, savings over time, environmental impact, and health reasons.
There are many styles of cloth menstrual pads available today. Popular styles of cloth menstrual pads include all-in-one, or AIO pads, in which the absorbent layer is sewn inside the pad, 'inserts on top' style pads, which have absorbent layers that can be secured on top of the pad as needed, envelope or pocket style pads, which have absorbent layers that can be inserted inside the pad as needed, and a foldable style, in which the pad folds around the absorbent layers. Cloth menstrual pads can have waterproof lining, which provides more leak protection but may also be less breathable.
In underdeveloped countries, reusable or makeshift pads are still used to collect menstrual blood. Rags, soil, and mud are also reportedly used for collecting menstrual flow.
Menstrual pads are made from a range of materials, differing depending on style, country of origin, and brand.
Kotex lists the materials used in their Maxi and Regular disposable pads as being made "mostly of wood cellulose fibers", the "outer cover and the moisture-proof shields are made with a moisture-proof plastic such as polypropylene or polyethylene".
Other Brands are Always, Poise, and Stayfree.
The shape, absorbency and lengths may vary depending on manufacturer, but usually range from the short slender panty liner to the larger and longer overnight. Long pads are offered for extra protection or for larger women whose woman's undergarments might not be completely protected by regular length pads, and also for overnight use.
Other options are often offered in a manufacturer's line of pads, such as wings or tabs that wrap around the sides of the woman's underwear to add additional leak protection and help secure the pad in place. Deodorant is also added to some pads, which is designed to cover menstrual odor with a light fragrance. There are even pantiliners specifically designed to fit into thong/G-string type underwear.
Sanitary Napkin Having Core Predisposed to a Convex Upward Configuration: No. 6,986,761.(sanitary napkin patented)(Brief article)
Apr 01, 2006; Sanitary Napkin Having Core Predisposed To A Convex Upward Configuration: No. 6,986,761; Letha Hines and Robb Olsen, assignors to...