By Judith A. Houck
How did menopause switch from being a average (and usually welcome) finish to a woman's childbearing years to a deficiency ailment short of scientific and pharmacological intervention? As she lines the medicalization of menopause over the past a hundred years, historian Judith Houck demanding situations a few broadly held assumptions. Physicians infrequently foisted hormones on reluctant girl sufferers; particularly, physicians themselves have been frequently reluctant to say menopause as a scientific challenge and resisted the frequent use of hormone remedy for what used to be, in the end, a typical transition in a woman's lifespan. Houck argues that the scientific and renowned understandings of menopause at any given time trusted either pharmacological thoughts and cultural principles and anxieties of the instant. As ladies behind schedule marriage and motherhood and entered the group in better numbers, the clinical realizing, cultural that means, and event of menopause replaced. through reading the background of menopause over the process the 20th century, Houck indicates how the event and illustration of menopause has been profoundly prompted via biomedical advancements and by way of altering roles for girls and the altering definition of womanhood. (20060601)
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Additional info for Hot and Bothered: Women, Medicine, and Menopause in Modern America
111 Gynecologist William J. Robinson, in his 1925 book The Menopause or Change of Life, Medicine, Menopause, and the New Woman 35 described menopause as “a period of withering, shrinking and closingup,” in which the vagina, particularly in “old maids” becomes so narrow that it makes intercourse painful or impossible. ”112 It might be argued that menopause is indeed a period of decay and that these doctors were not describing women’s loss of appeal and usefulness but rather the biological facts.
Second, while physicians assured women that their symptoms would eventually pass, patent medicine explicitly challenged the position that women should stoicially conceal their suffering. An advertisement for Vitae-Ore Vitae suppositories, for example, cautioned women against falling into the trap of seeing female trouble as the price of being a woman. Instead, the ad claimed that women who “procrastinate” merely invite disease to become established. 72 By ordering Dr. Pierce’s Special Prescription or the Wine of Cardui women could avoid the probing questions and eyes of male physicians.
By 1910, there were more than nine thousand women physicians practicing in the United States, representing 6 percent of all physicians. During the same period, women remained virtually absent in the other professions. In 1905, for example, there were only two hundred women lawyers in the entire country. Despite their strong beginning, however, the bright promise of women physicians remained largely unfulfilled. Once trained, for example, female physicians found they had few places to go. In 1921, only 8 percent of hospitals awarded internships to women.
Hot and Bothered: Women, Medicine, and Menopause in Modern America by Judith A. Houck