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Women’s History Month: Celebrating Female Inventors and Wellness Products That Continue To Improve Women’s Health

The Power of Female Ingenuity

In the past, society’s limiting roles of women prevented higher education and opportunities, but this did not stop female inventors and scientists from accomplishing their dreams. Self-education, talent and knack for getting around obstacles prevailed. When it comes to any subject, but especially women’s health and safety, having women at the table is essential. Today women continue to be wait longer times for diagnosis, as doctors tend to dismiss their patient’s complaints of pain. Advocating for yourself in an emergency and during regular checkups has become a must-have skill. Imagine it did not have to be like this? Menstruation is a good example. It was not until the last decade that it became acceptable to openly discuss menstruation and patients started to get diagnosed with endometriosis. In some cultures menstruation it is still thought of as a shameful and dirty secret. Generally men are not interested in the details of the female anatomy, but we would argue that educating men about the health of the women in their lives should be a given.

As we wrapped-up Women’s History Month we rounded up health and wellness products that improve women’s lives. After all, it was women’s ingenuity that helped make them happen. It should not have to be said, but history has proven that when women succeed, the world becomes a better, healthier, and richer place.

You will never have to use a tampon or a sanitary pad again. Brands like saalt specialize in reusable silicone cups that can be worn internally.

Menstrual Cup – saalt

The menstrual cup seems like a modern invention, but it is far from it. In fact, the first commercial invention of the rubber cup was patented in 1937 by an American actor, Leona Chalmers. Before the rubber cup invention the only menstrual cup-like devices available were attached to a belt. They were called the Catamenial Sack. Little is known about their use, but like many gynecological designs back then, they look painful and uncomfortable. In the 1980s we had the Keeper Cup, made of latex. You can still find it if you look. So how did we get to the widely used modern menstrual cup of today? One of the creators of the Mooncup, Su Hardy, stumbled upon the idea while traveling with her family. Su Hardy set out to improve upon Leona Chalmers’ creation with medical-grade silicone. You might wonder why no one thought of improving upon the idea until recently. They did, but it was not successful. Leona Chalmers’ patent was sold in 1959 to a company that had a hard time getting it off the ground. Words like vagina and menstruation were forbidden, and could not be used in any marketing or advertising. Without having the ability to advertise, the company shut down in 1973. This is yet another example of the slow progression towards better health for all menstruating people. Today the cup is thriving. It is affordable, eco-friendly, and comfortable.

For more menstruation history visit http://www.mum.org.

Breast Massage – Lādē & Company The Boobie Balm

India’s ancient wisdom and Ayurvedic medicine is known to prescribe massage for restoring balance within the body. This natural healing remedy dates back to 3000 BCE. Even the father of medicine, Hippocrates, who believed in a well-balanced lifestyle, prescribed massage in order to treat physical injuries. When we think of massage we often think of a spa, but in some cultures, massage is a part of every day life. In India it starts from birth with the popular postnatal baby massage. Not only does it calm the baby and help relive gas, it fosters a closer bond between parent and child. As children get older, mothers often massage their children’s heads, promoting circulation and nourishing the hair. What does massage have to do with women’s health? The answer is breast massage.

Introducing the The Boobie Balm by Lade and Company. Founder, Natania Frydman, made it her mission to create a niche product for women everywhere. The Boobie Balm is created with powerful herbs, smells scrumptious and even has a pretty pink color. More importantly, it is organic, cruelty-free, plastic free, water-free and hand-poured. The modern massage breast care balm does more than smell great and look pretty. Daily breast massage with an herbal balm reduces painful and swollen breasts. It does this by moving stagnant hormone build up in the breast tissue and the lymph system. It is also a great way to give yourself a breast exam.

According to CDC breast cancer is the second most common cancer among women. About 1 in 8 U.S. women will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of their life. While breast health seems like just a women’s issue, both men and women can get breast cancer. We are so used to paying attention to other parts of our body, like the face, that we forget to give a little love to our breasts.

Natania Frydman, who studied Ayurveda at the Shakti Ayurveda School said: “Hands down the most life-changing and transformative education I have ever received. It is focused on women’s health, with all women teachers and all women or female-identifying students. It is such a unique experience because the teachers are not just teachers, but women who are professionals in one specific area of healing.”

“Breast massage is a hugely necessary and helpful practice. I can say with confidence that almost every woman has 2-5 minutes of free time a day, which is absolutely enough time to help maintain vital healthy pain-free boobies.”

Women’s Safety – Noonlight App

You might be surprised to learn that the “mother of wifi”, and GPS, is a woman. Hollywood actress, Hedy Lamarr, is widely known for her glamorous roles in movies, but she should be known for being an inventor first. The Austrian-American inventor was not taken seriously by society, but that did not stop her desire for innovation. Pilot Howard Hughes saw her inventor spirit and helped nudge her career. He helped expose her to scientists and gave her a small set of equipment to use in her trailer while on set. In addition Lamarr had an inventing table set up in her house. She invented an upgraded stoplight and a tablet that dissolved in water to make a soda similar to Coca-Cola. Her most important invention was engineered during World War II. The inventor felt that her acting career was frivolous during a time of war and wanted to contribute to the war effort. Along with a new friend, George Antheil, Hedy Lamarr invented a new communication system used to guide torpedoes to their targets . The communication system involved the use of “frequency hopping” amongst radio waves. The system was patented but never used by the navy and Hedy Lamarr never made any money from it. Lamarr became the first woman to receive the Invention Convention’s Bulbie Gnass Spirit of Achievement Award and in 2014 was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame.

Violence against women and girls is a human rights issue. Until the world becomes a safe place for all women, and female presenting people, the burden falls on each individual. New apps, seeking to aid women with feeling safer while out in public, or at home, are on the rise. Noonlight is one of those apps. The free and effective app helps women press a panic button that allows the police to find your exact location. When you feel unsafe and cannot pick up the phone to make a call the app eliminates the extra step of having to dial 911 and state your location. Thank you Hedy Lamarr.

Hedy Lamarr’s invention makes wifi and GPS possible. Many women do not look at their phone as a wellness product, but when used in a positive way, our phones can helps us track our monthly cycles, health data, and keep us safe.

Healthy Hair – Heatless Hair Curling Ribbon

Tight, loose, beach, and glamorous curls continue to be a trend on the red carpet, and in our every day lives. As a result, our hair suffers. It is no secret that applying heat to your hair damages it, but what if there was another way? Enter the Heatless Hair Curling Ribbon. While the idea to curl hair without heat is not new, it typically takes some DIY imagination. Founder, Jacqueline Elkouby, wanted to perfect the idea with pre-washed silk and The Curling Ribbon was born. The best way to use The Curling Ribbon is on damp hair. We love the fact that this fun and low maintenance beauty tool helps us save time for more important things. You can even sleep with it on, waking up to fabulous curls. The most desired benefit of all however is healthy hair!

One cannot talk about a hair curler without mentioning Beulah Louise Henry, aka: “Lady Edison”. Driven by her desire to improve the lives of women B. L. Henry gave us over 100 inventions and patented 49 of them. Beulah Henry was one of the few women in the early 1900s who was able to make a living as an inventor. Among her inventions was a vanity case, a rubber sponge soap holder, parasol with interchangeable snap-ons of different color fabric, a vacuum ice cream freezer, a bobbin-less sewing machine, and of course, the hair curler. Her patent describes the hair curler as a device which can be quickly applied and removed without harming the hair. The rubber device was designed to be washable and could be reproduced at low cost. In 2006, Beulah Louise Henry was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame.

Honey Pot Organic Cotton Pads With Wings

It truly bogles the mind to know that majority of the menstruation pads market still clings to plastic. While the vagina is self-cleaning it is also sensitive and can easily get irritated by unbreathable and synthetic materials. For many years there we no healthier options, but people today are a lot more conscious of what they put in, and on their body. Brands like The Honey Pot Company and GetRael appeared on the shelves, helping customers switch to organic cotton and hypoallergenic ingredients.

Speaking of menstruation pads, get to know an African-American inventor who gave us further comfort and adhesive wings, Mary Beatrice Davidson Kenner. Her adjustable sanitary belt with adhesive helped sanitary pads stay in place. As an innovator Kenner wanted to improve upon the design with a “moisture resistant pocket. Mary Kenner came from a family of inventors and was a curious inventor from childhood, but because she was a woman of color it was hard for her to secure a patent or to get her inventions on the market. Kenner did accomplish to received five patents, among them a tissue holder.

Wondering what other menstruation products women used? Kotex might be a name you know. Is a popular name for a sanitary napkins, and there is a good reason for that. Talking openly about anything having to do with women’s periods was simply not done. Menstruation was seen as unhygienic and embarrassing. Advertisers found a way around that by using words like “surgical supplies” and “dainty wears”. Kotex had the bright idea to tell its customers to simply “Ask for a Kotex”. This prevented having to publicly ask for a sanitary napkin, especially when speaking around or to a man. We have come a long way!

Kotex ad via Australian Women’s Mirror, 1939. Newspapers Collection, State Library Victoria

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