The title of this book is sufficiently striking to attract attention even if it had not been written by so successful an author as Marie Stopes. Her book, Married Love, has been sold in about a million copies and has been one of the greatest successes in modern times. We hear every day about the change of life in women, but not of the change of life in men, and the author draws with full justification, attention to the fact that there is a change of life in both sexes and that there is considerable danger not only for women but also for men when the change occurs.
The female womb and the male prostate are very nearly akin. At the change of life, the womans womb is apt to degenerate and to produce fibroid tumours and cancerous growths. At the change of life, the male prostate is apt to enlarge and to degenerate also, and occasionally it becomes cancerous.
In her desire to be striking and original, Dr. Stopes minimizes the dangers of the change of life in women and maximizes the danger in men. One might think that the danger of the change of life in women was purely imaginary and produced largely by sensational medical and semi-medical books.
The book is interesting, but the reader must realize all the time that the authoress tried to make a case and acts like a skilled lawyer in marshalling the evidence. Being an experienced writer with a strong popular appeal, her book is extremely readable. I would give a few extracts to show her method of writing which will give the reader a good idea of the contents of the book.
I would add that the medical advice she gives both for men and women is from the homoeopathic point of view very unsatisfactory. She recommends the fashionable glandular extracts, the equally fashionable electrical treatment, the ingestion of lime, and that is about all the medical advice she gives.
Unfortunately, Dr. Stopes has apparently no idea that homoeopathy can do miracles to women by a large number of gentle medicines whereby the change of life can be made easy, whereby the displacement of the uterus can be corrected, whereby common troubles like over great discharge at menstrual time or the climacteric, can be corrected, leucorrhoea be cured and fibroid tumours be dealt with. The authoress is extremely studious. She would do well to take up homoeopathic literature.
“As the chief feature by which we recognize the menopause as having arrived is the stoppage of menstruation, it may be asked: What is menstruation? Not merely that it is a crimson flow appearing at rhythmic intervals, that is know to all; the question what it really is, or what causes it, are often asked and left unanswered. Until the discovery of the internal secretions the mechanism of menstruation was quite inexplicable, and even now there are gaps in the knowledge of even the most learned.
It is now known that the menstrual flow is induced by internal secretions of hormones from certain structures in the ovaries. The ovaries themselves are small bodies, two in number, one on either side at the back of the pelvic region in women. Each contains masses of small undeveloped ova or egg-cells. These exist from the very commencement of life, at birth and all through childish growth, but their mere presence, when they are dormant, does not cause the menstrual flow although the ovaries do give out continuously some internal secretions which affect the general growth and quality of the body as a whole.
It is the special developments of the ovary attendant on the maturation and escape of each ripened ovum or egg-cell which fits into the cycle of events causing menstruation. Once the ova of a girl regularly, and continued to do so till the ova latent in the ovary get sluggish and no longer ripen. Yet it is not quite so simple even as that, because we find that menstruation may cease years before the ova cease ripening, and hence years after menstruation has ceased a woman may become pregnant and bear a child.
“When menstruation is in full swing the regular sequence in a healthy woman is as follows: for some days she feels very well, strong, fresh and vital. Her eyes sparkle, she is in her youngest, freshest and most attractive aspect, then a sense of some local tension or engorgement is felt in the region of the womb, not amounting to pain but, perhaps a slight heaviness or turgidity. Then a flow of blood trickles from the vagina and lasts for four or five days. This blood has come from the inner lining of the womb or uterus, and is not given out by any special vent or blood vessel.
It is duet to the bursting of very fine blood-vessels all over the surface of the inner living walls of the womb, which have been somewhat thickened in anticipation of this process. The epithelial lining cells also peel away and the womb is left with a fresh inner surface. Into this e next free ovum or egg will settle if it is fertilized, so that the embryo will grow on this prepared soil. When an embryo begins to grow menstruation ceases. Let us consider an ordinary menstruation.
After the flow for a day or two the woman feels perhaps a little tired, or definitely less vital. She is in need of building herself up again after the loss of the flow. In a few days nature had done this. It all recurs in twenty-eight days if the woman is in health. Some people consider the flow of menstruation to be a mere preparation of the uterus for a possible pregnancy; some look on it as ridding the system of substances which have been stored in readiness for the nourishment of the possible embryo; other authorities are now thinking of returning to the old-fashioned idea that it is a kind of excretory process.
Probably it performs all three functions simultaneously. I am quite convinced that it definitely depletes woman for a few days, of substances, not merely excretory, but such as are a loss to her and she has to re-absorb from her food enough to replace them into her own system (or at least into her blood supply) before she can return to full vitality.
“The composition of the menstrual flow in comparison with ordinary blood is of special interest. Menstrual blood has many features which are different from those of ordinary blood. It is darker in colour, and does not clot as does ordinary blood, and it has a very high calcium content.
“The woman has accumulated a certain amount of extra mineral material during the preceding weeks with a view to nourishing a possible embryo. When this is not required the calcium and some other elements are eliminated in the menstrual flow. Modern discoveries of the endocrine complex of the sex-apparatus has tended to divert peoples minds from the simple facts associated with sex. Dr. Blair Bell reports his own observations on the calcium balance in women in his book,
The Sex Complex, 2nd edition, 1920, p. 35, where he says: I have found that menstrual discharge may contain a quantity of calcium as much as thirty times greater than that found in the systemic blood. The excretion of calcium is one which seems to me be of very great significance in a number of connections, and I refer to it elsewhere.”.
“There are many modern records of very late pregnancy. A well- attested example is that of a woman who thought she could not become pregnant and was safe, cited by Dr. E. Rumley Dawson in his book The Causation of Sex in Man, 1921. He says: Early in March 1904 I attended Miss E. C., aged 50. She had passed “the change”, and had seen nothing for just two years.
Meeting her former lover once again after many years absence, and deeming herself safe from the possibility of pregnancy, she ran the risk, and was duly delivered by me of a living healthy male illegitimate child, nearly three years after having ceased to menstruate. Menstruation did not reappear.”.
“Dr. Kisch quotes a case from Dr. Meissner of a remarkable woman who first menstruated at the age of twenty, had her first child when she was forty-seven and gave birth to the last of her eight children when she was sixty years old.
“Van de Velde states that exceptional mothers aged sixty-two and even sixty-eight years have given birth to live and healthy children.”.
“The old fashion of blood-letting, so common a medical practice in the times of our grandparents and great-grandparents, was laughed out of existence a generation ago. It is now, however, returning to medical favour and is sometimes used at the time of the menopause for full-blooded women whose menstrual flow having ceased, the flushings appear which tend to discomfort at the times when the menstruation would have occurred, had it not ceased.”.
“Dr. Blair Bell (The Sex Complex, 1920) says: I have for many years treated all cases of mental depression with thyroid extract, alone or in combination with ovarian extract, and have found it most beneficial; ovarian extract alone is useless.”.
NOTE.– All books reviewed in “HEAL THYSELF” and all other medical works are obtainable at the Homoeopathic Publishing Company, 12 Warwick Lane, London, W. C. 4.