Menstrual irregularities usually depend on defective constitutional vigor; or on bad hygienic conditions or habits, such as close confinement indoors, sedentary occupations, especially if carried on in improperly ventilated rooms, or unrelieved by sufficient outdoor recreation….

6. PUBERTY Puberty is the period in which the general development and growth of the female have so far advance as to render her capable of bearing children.

“The infancy of the girl does not differ essentially from that of the boy. There is, perhaps, a touch of softness, of delicacy, and of pliability of her organisation, that are half-way distinctive, but in general terms they are identical. Their looks, habits, tastes, and predispositions are the same. They grow and thrive upon the same food, in the same schoolroom or nursery, and are full of sympathetic relations, but without the passions and propensities of after life. They are subject to the same diseases, which are curable by the same treatment; and they occupy a like place in the esteem of the family, the friends, and the general community. But time works wonderful changes in the young girl. For it gives a more decided tone to the delicate and the almost imperceptible shades of difference between her and her male companion. Her individuality begins to assert itself; her tastes and inclinations are changed, and she becomes shy and taciturn, or forward and capricious. She is timid and reserved, but sensitive, confiding, and tender-hearted. The womanly traits are soon evolved and matured, and she is no longer the non-sexual creature that she was before her emotional and physical natures were so wonderfully developed.” – Ludlam.

External signs of Puberty: At the approach of puberty a striking change is effected in the general system. The pelvis, although far from being yet mature, enlarges, and takes on its distinctive sexual character; the breasts become rounded and full, and establish their connection and sympathy with the womb; and chest, throat, arms and, indeed, the whole body, acquire the contour of a more mature development; the hair grows more luxuriantly; the skin becomes fresh and blooming, the voice full and mellow; and the whole figures assumes that elegance and symmetry, the complexion that blood of health and beauty, and each feature and action that play of intellect and emotion, and that indescribable gracefulness of action, which are to be found in woman alone.

This combination of attractions which marks the epoch of puberty upon is no doubt designed to subserve the purpose of alluring the opposite sex, and so securing one great object for which the female was created – the reproduction of the species.

Corresponding with the external changes coincident with puberty are internal ones occurring especially in the ovaries and uterus, which now become fully developed both as to size and activity. In short, the woman has now, as a rule, acquired the power to conceive.

The mind, too, at this period, grows rapidly; the mental capacity enlarges, the imagination becomes more vivid, and the nervous system exhibits a heightened sensibility.

Maternal Instruction : As puberty advances, no mother should neglect to teach her daughter to expect the change which is about to take place, so that the first appearance of menstrual flow may neither be arrested by the alarm naturally felt at something hither or inexperienced or unknown, nor by the dangerous applications to which in her ignorance she may otherwise secretly resort. Some young women view the development of this function with such disgust, that they expose themselves carelessly or purposely during the period to cold and wet or use cold baths or other means of suppression, and thus finally bring on disordered menstruation and permanent ill-health. Many such cases have occurred within our own experience.


The menstrual function, which is variously termed menses, periods, catamenia, or courses, is one of the most important functions of the female organisation and constitutes a real monthly crisis. It consists of an exudation of sanguineous fluid, chiefly from the body of the uterus, the average quantity being four to six ounces at each period, and is attended by a congested state of the uterus, ovaries, and contiguous organs. Although the discharge precedes from the uterus; the function depends on the ovaries from the stimulus necessary for its first appearance, for its regular recurrence, and for its due performance. The course of the menses recurs, in the majority of instances, every twenty-eight day, the very day on which it had appeared four weeks previously. The duration of a menstrual period varies in different persons, the most common and normal being about four days.

The menstrual fluid is eliminated from the uterine vessels, and is considered by some as a true secretion and by others as a discharge of pure blood. The latter opinion is the correct one. The discharge is blood, and not a mere secretion. It is prevented from coagulating by being blended with the acid secretion of the uterus and vagina. The addition of small of quantity of acetic, phosphoric or of almost any acid to ordinary blood, with prevent its coagulation, and render it similar in its properties and appearance to menstrual blood. In cases, however, in which the discharge is so profuse that a portion of its coagulating constituents -the fibrin- escapes without inter mixture with the acid secretion, clots are formed. Thus it appears that true menstrual blood, uncombined with the normally acid uterine and vaginal secretion, is like ordinary blood, and equally capable of coagulation; but that being immediately blended with this acid secretion, it is enabled to pass off in an uninterrupted course. And here may be observed one of those wise and beneficent contrivances of the Creator and Preserver of all, which so frequently excite the wonder and admiration of the physiologist. If no such acid solvent as that of the vagina existed, the coagulated menstrual blood would, in consequence of its consistency, be prevented from passing along the vaginal canal, and would thus become a mass of putrid matter, entailing consequences which would be fearful in the extreme.

Purposes of Menstruation: Two ends seem to be especially secured by this function :- 1st, the relief of the general system, by the discharge of superabundant blood which during pregnancy is appropriated to the formation and growth of the foetus; 2nd, a vicarious satisfaction of the sexual instinct, thus shielding female chastity. The modern doctrine, however, is that menstruation takes place when the ovum,

3 not having been impregnated, undergoes degeneration, and is cast off with an escape of blood from the congested uterus in sufficient quantity to relieve the congestion.

FIRST MENSTRUATION. – In this country the most common time for the occurrence of the first menstruation is from the fourteen to the sixteenth year, although the age is liable to considerable variations. In hot climates it commences at an earlier, and in cold climates at a more advanced age. The occurrence of menstruation in this country, one or two, or even three years earlier than the fourteenth year, or as much later than sixteenth, is not sufficiently uncommon to justify any medical interference when the health is otherwise good. Menstruation commences earlier in cities and large towns than in the country. It also occurs in the daughters of the rich-who have every comfort and luxury, everything which enervates and relaxes, or excites -at least nine months before it does in those of the industrious classes of the community in the most comfortable circumstances; and full fourteen months, on the average, before it appears in the poorest classes. Its earlier occurrence among the well-to do classes and later among the poorest, its scantiness among women in the savage state, and its entire absence among the lower mammals, seem to indicate that the function may be due to enervation incident to civic life and a highly artificial state of society, and not to any actual necessity of organism.

It is satisfactory established; that in every country and climate the period of the first menstruation may be retarded, in very many cases much beyond the average age, often without producing ill-health or other inconvenience. Indeed, the longer it can be postponed the less will be the draught on the vascular and nervous energy which are essential to the consideration of the functions of nutrition and growth. And it should be borne in mind that the premature accession of menstruation is almost certain to be followed by the early disappearance of the function. Probably the most successful mode of managing young ladies is to bring them as far towards the perfection of womanhood as possible before the appearance of the menses, at least until the fourteenth year. With this object in view, the following suggestions are offered.

HINTS FOR PREVENTING TOO EARLY MENSTRUATION: The use of hot baths, especially in the addition of mustard, should be avoided; also indulgence in the use of hot, spiced, and stimulating food and drinks; living in overheated or badly ventilated rooms, excessive dancing, excitement from novel-reading, too much sitting, and late hours; such habits and indulgences tend to occasion precocious, frequent, copious, or irregular menstruation.

Edward Harris Ruddock
Ruddock, E. H. (Edward Harris), 1822-1875. M.D.

Author of "The Stepping Stone to Homeopathy and Health,"
"Manual of Homoeopathic Treatment". Editor of "The Homoeopathic World."