The first modern-style menstrual cup was patented in 1932, but that wasn’t the first time inventors turned their skills to the problem of keeping bloody goo off women’s clothes. Take, for example, this little gem from 1884. It’s a menstrual cup, attached to a reservoir big enough to last for days.
Here’s how it worked. A woman would insert the cup (a) into her vagina, just like menstrual cups today. But in this device, the cup opened onto a tube (B) which drained menstrual fluid into a canteen (A) that she strapped between her legs. Each night, the canteen could be emptied through a little screw-capped opening (e).
Hiram Farr may have been right to think that his device would be better than the rags or cotton batting that many women were using to catch menstrual blood. But he seemed to have wildly overestimated how much fluid women were likely to collect each month. On average, it’s about 2 tablespoons. It only seems like 2 cups.
[Source: US Patent 300770]