The Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences acknowledges Australia’s First Nations Peoples as the Traditional Owners and Custodians of the land and gives respect to the Elders – past and present – and through them to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are advised that the MAAS website contains a range of Indigenous Cultural Material. This includes artworks, artifacts, images and recordings of people who may have passed away, and other objects which may be culturally sensitive.
2003/62/1 Sanitary tampons, opened packet, 'Meds', manufactured fibre / paper / cellophane, made by Johnson & Johnson Pty Ltd, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, c. 1970. Click to enlarge.

Packet of ‘Meds’ tampons

Made by Johnson & Johnson Pty Ltd in New South Wales, Australia, c.1970.
Menstruation is an important and inevitable part of women's lives from menarche to menopause. Since the 19th century commercial manufacturers have tapped into the lucrative market for the paraphernalia of menstruation. Napkins, both disposable and washable, and belts to support them were amongst the first products commercially produced. Tampons for internal use followed some time later. The American company Johnson & Johnson first manufactured Meds in the 1930s and by 1941 they were available in Australia. Tampons were slow to catch on and were frowned on in many circles, especially for unmarried girls. However, by the 1960s women whose mothers might have forbidden the use of tampons when they were younger, had accepted tampons for all the reasons that manufacturers advertised, including their invisibility, their disposability (just flush down the toilet), and the greater freedom they offered for participation in active sports, especially swimming. This packet of Meds dates from 1970 at the latest and was amongst the personal effects of a woman born around 1920.


Brookes, Barbara, and Tennant, Margaret, Making girls modern: Pakeha women and menstruation in New Zealand, 1930-70, Women's History Review, 7(4), 1998, pp.565-581.

Brookes, Barbara, and Tennant, Margaret, Periods in history, Women's Studies Journal, 10(2), September 1994, pp. 103-114.

Megan Hicks
Curator 2002


Object No.


Object Statement

Sanitary tampons, opened packet, 'Meds', manufactured fibre / paper / cellophane, made by Johnson & Johnson Pty Ltd, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, c. 1970

Physical Description

The cardboard box in which the 'Meds' are packed is mainly pink, with white and blue text which reads in part: 'Meds by Modess / 10 Super Absorbent Tampons / Meds tampons / Johnson & Johnson Pty Ltd / Sydney'. The box originally contained ten tampons, but five now remain, each individually wrapped in cellophane. There is also a small paper instruction leaflet. 'Meds' are absorbent, disposable tampons worn internally as a sponge for discharge during menstruation.


Number on interior of box, stamped in brown '6' or '9'



53 mm


33 mm



The tampons were made by Johnson & Johnson Pty Ltd, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.



The packet of Meds were amongst the effects of East Lindfield (Sydney) woman who was born around 1920 and died in 2000. They were donated to the Powerhouse Museum by the woman's daughter-in-law, who remembers a conversation with her mother-in-law about this particular packet of Meds that took place in around 1971.


Credit Line

Gift of Mrs Anne Hicks, 2003

Acquisition Date

22 April 2003

Cite this Object


Packet of 'Meds' tampons 2020, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 28 May 2020, <>


{{cite web |url= |title=Packet of 'Meds' tampons |author=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences |access-date=28 May 2020 |publisher=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia}}

Know more about this object?


Have a question about this object?