15 Mad menopause facts
It’s a ‘Mad World’ according to Tears For Fears and we tend to agree that at times our menopause world can be.
We’ve put together a few mad menopause facts that might surprise you.
To coin a phrase
The word menopause (la ménépausie) was first used by Dr Charles Pierre Louis de Gardanne in 1821. In ancient greek ‘men’, means month, and is closely related to the word moon ‘mine' when the months were measured by the moon. The word ‘pauein’ means to cease or stop. So you get 'monthlies stopping'.
It’s all Greek to me
Aristotle mentioned the menopause in the History of Animals 585b, noting it began when women were 40, and they couldn’t get pregnant after 50. He suggested women no longer had enough substance to sustain menstruation and they were seen to become drier and colder. Quite ironic given that these day’s women have hot flushes and night sweats – making us wetter in a sense.
A devil of a time
In 1584 Reginald Scot’s Discovery of Witchcraft claimed that ‘upon the stopping of their monthly melancholic flux or issue of blood’, post-menopausal women were prone to the accusation of witchcraft. Scot argued that the lack of bleeding made older women likely to command the Devil, due to a build-up of black bile in their body, resulting in evil thoughts and influences.
The menopause was generally seen as a natural phenomenon until 1710. Then, over the following 100 years it was viewed as a disease and perceived as the worst of all ‘calamities’, which meant strange treatments and dangerous surgery.
Keep your rosaries off my ovaries
Scottish surgeon John Lizars believed women’s ovaries were the cause of menopausal problems and if not in working order, they seriously compromised her mental and physical integrity. The solution? Whip them out! He performed 200 ovariotomies between 1825 and 1854, killing 89 women in the process.
The Victorian attitude to menopause twisted it into a mental illness that needed to be cured. They thought a woman’s physical make-up predisposed her to insanity. It seemed that having a working womb gave you hysteria and not having one pretty much did the same too. According to George Savage (an apt name), writing in the Lancet in 1903, even women who were not mentally ill were likely to offer ‘insane interpretations’ of their menopausal symptoms.
In the 1890’s menopausal women were offered powdered cow ovaries, called ovariin, and testicular juice to ease their symptoms.
Yet another Victorian doctor, Isaac Baker Brown, thought a menopausal woman’s clitoris should be removed to stop ‘hysteria’ developing into spinal irritation, idiocy, mania and death.
Nineteenth-century treatments included purgatives, bleeding and deadly-sounding douches containing a cocktail of acetate of lead, morphine and chloroform.
A much-admired Victorian doctor Edward Tilt, apparently prescribed menopausal women opium, morphine, carbonated soda, a big bella-donna plaster on the stomach and lead acetate injections into the vagina – ouch!
No time to w(h)ine
A London gynaecologist Samuel Ashwell, published a book in 1844 titled Practical Treatise On The Diseases Peculiar To Women, recommended abstinence from alcohol, exercise and vegetarianism – not much has changed since then!
Marie Stopes 1936 book, Change Of Life In Men And Women, blamed the medical profession for making women think the menopause was a 'revolting, frightening, misleading and injurious state'. Stopes’ advice was not to worry, and to carry on as though nothing special was happening.
A right charmer
In 1966 a British born US based Gynecologist Robert A. Wilson, published a book, Feminine Forever. Claiming that menopause should be treated with oestrogen replacement therapy to prevent women’s inevitable “living decay”. Believing all women should take hormone therapy, he wrote “All post-menopausal women are castrates,” but, with HRT, a woman’s “breasts and genital organs will not shrivel. She will be much more pleasant to live with and will not become dull and unattractive.”
A whale of a time
Only two other species apart from humans go through the menopause – pilot whales and killer whales.
That’s the spirit
Tequila is great for making tasty Margaritas but according to new research, it may also be good for your bones. Science Daily reported in April 2016 that Mexican Scientist Dr. Mercedes López, has identified substances from the tequila plant that enhance absorption of calcium in the body. Both minerals essential to maintaining bone health. Cheers to that!