There's that saying about rats leaving a sinking ship - does that say more about the ship or about the rats?
I mean, does it mean that the metaphorical "ship" is going down or that the people leaving it are rats?
I read that in ancient Egypt the tampon was debuted when high-class women began sticking bits of cotton inside.
There is that book "The Red Tent" by Anita Diamant - the title references the tent that women were confined to during their period.
IIRC, they would sit on straw mats which were later burned.
Leviticus 12 and Leviticus 15 have rules for Old Testament women on their periods, too - they're "unclean" for a week, and anyone who touches them or touches what they've been sitting or lying on is unclean until the end of the day. "Unclean" in this case is a ceremonial thing, sort of, but it's also a practical issue. (Many of the Jewish laws had practical scientific reasons - preventing the spread of disease, keeping food from spoiling, ensuring proper nutrition, etc.) If you don't have a good way to keep menstrual blood contained, and you live in a hot climate with no good disease control, it makes sense for the person who is bleeding to be effectively quarantined for a while. (There's a section for men who have "discharges," too.)
It did come in handy at least once - Rachel* hid some valuables in her seat cushion and sat on them, and when her father came looking for them she claimed it was her time of the month so he wouldn't touch the cushion and thus didn't find them.
*Woman from Genesis - Jacob meets her and falls in love, and agrees to work for her father for seven years so he can marry her. The father tricks him into marrying her older sister Leah, so Jacob had to stay and work for her father for another seven years so he can marry Rachel too. Then Rachel can't conceive so she gives Jacob her maidservant, and then Leah gives Jacob her
maidservant, and Jacob ends up with four wives and twelve sons and Andrew Lloyd Weber wrote a musical about their dysfunctional family