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A random piece of interesting gynecological history

Monday, April 27, 2015 - 21:57
It is incredibly frustrating to research issues around how medieval European women dealt with the practicalities of menstruation. (Medical manuals were most commonly written by men and rather glossed over the topic.) While working on medieval Arabic sources for the Lesbian Historic Motif Project, I think I've run across a reference to the use of something functionally resembling a tampon. It occurs in Al-Muhalla by Ibn Hazm Al-Andalusi (d. 1064) in a discussion of forbidden sexual contact involving a woman's genitals. "If the woman inserts anything in her vagina that she is not permitted to insert, such as her husband's genitals or whatever she needs during menstruation, then she is not guarding it [i.e., her vagina] and if she does not guard it then she is increasingly insubordinate."