An American actress, author, and inventor of the modern menstrual cup.
Leona W. Chalmers was born in the early 1900s. Little is known about her life, except the fact that she was an actress and the inventor of the first usable and available modern menstrual cup – a reusable device is used to collect menstrual flow. Though different designs appeared from 1867, none were usable, comfortable, nor safe. The model that Chalmers created and is the prototype of modern days cups is comfort, invisible, safe to use, as well as environmentally friendly.
In 1937 Chalmers patented and marketed her latex rubber menstrual cup. The cups didn’t do well in the market due to the mentality of the time, and the availability of disposable solutions, and due to the shortage in supplies of rubber in WWII, the cups’ production was put on hold. After the war, Chalmers continued her enterprise progressing menstrual cups but failed. She sold the rights of the design to Robert P. Oreck, who launched a new menstrual cup company in 1959, Tassette, Inc.
Still, Tassette also didn’t succeed in selling the new product to American women, mainly since they were used to the use of pads. Other reasons for the failure are the fact that it was hard to advertise a product related to a taboo subject, femininity, as well as the mindset to insert the device into the vagina.
After years out of the markets, the cups were relaunched at the beginning of the 21st century. Nowadays, menstrual cups are becoming more popular due to the growing awareness of environmental issues and the availability of hypoallergenic medical silicone. Chalmers didn’t get to see her vision pushing through, but she would definitely be proud to see her significant contribution to today’s menstrual solutions available.
Another Interesting Anecdote:
- She published “The intimate side of a woman’s life” in 1937, a book about the feminine body and the more silenced issues that women have to deal with.