Leona Chalmers

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Leona W. Chalmers (born early 1900s) was an American-born actress, inventor, and author.

Leona W. Chalmers was born in the early 1900s. She was an inventor, actress, and author. She is known for inventing the menstrual cup. She was also an author, who wrote the book ‘The Intimate Side of a Woman’s Life’[1]. The menstrual cup is a reusable, funnel like device that can be placed in a woman’s vagina to collect her menstrual fluid. With a menstrual cup, one wouldn’t need to use a tampon or pad. At the moment, reusable menstrual instruments only make up of 2%, of menstrual instruments used by women around the world. However, these items are increasing in popularity, due to their reusable nature, and comfort they provide women.

Before Chalmers’ invention, most people used ‘Catamenial Sacks’, which menstruators would don a belt that utilized either metal cups or flexible sacs. However these were uncomfortable and hard to use. Thus, Leona patented a rubber cup that didn’t utilize a belt and was more comfortable than the prior innovation. More importantly, it was invisible, and was more discreet than the Catamenial sack. The production of her first patent in 1937 was stymied by a shortage in rubber due to World War 2[2]. However, she still tried to sell her cups well into the ends of the 1950s. People were generally reticerant towards the idea of inserting the menstrual cup digitally into their vaginas, preventing most from trying these cups.

In 1959, Chalmers sold the rights to the design of the cup to Robert P. Oreck, who launched a new company called Tassette Inc[3]. It was incredibly hard for the company to gain traction, as marketing the product was virtually impossible. At the time, utilizing the words ‘vagina’ and ‘period’ were almost forbidden to use in advertisement. As a result, the company shut down in 1973. However, menstrual cups are now making a comeback, over 25 years after the inception of Tassette. This is due to environmental concerns, as one cup purchased saves 2800+ tampons from going to a landfill[4].



  1. ^ Cifuentes, M. C. (2018, July 24). Who invented the first menstrual cup? Retrieved from https://rubycup.com/blog/woman-invented-menstrual-cup-history/x
  2. ^ A History of the Menstrual Cup. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.mum.org/CupPat1.htm Kurjanen, H. (2017, April 25).
  3. ^ Short History of Menstrual Cups. Retrieved from https://www.lunette.com/blogs/news/short-history-of-menstrual-cups
  4. ^ Shure, N. (2016, July 06). Why Has It Taken the Menstrual Cup So Long to Go Mainstream? Retrieved from https://psmag.com/news/why-has-it-taken-the-menstrual-cup-so-long-to-go-mainstream