Saturday, November 24, 2012

What Aristotle thought of Menopause

Excerpt from Archives of the Vagina: A Journey through Time

A student of Plato, Aristotle (384 BC – 322 BC) had a view of women that would be viewed as rather peculiar today.  He considered women to be unfinished males, ‘deformed’.  

In his Treatise On the Generation of Animals, he viewed menstrual blood as being a lesser sort of semen, writing on male and female secretions: 

“…This much is evident: the menstrual fluid is a residue, and it is the analogous thing in females to the semen in males.  Its behavior shows that this statement is correct.  At the same time of life that semen begins to appear in males and is emitted, the menstrual discharge begins to flow in females, their voice changes and their breasts begin to become conspicuous; and similarly, in the decline of life the power to generate ceases in males and the menstrual discharge ceases in females…”

A novel invention by the Ancient Greeks was a tampon make from a piece of wood entwined with lint wrapped around it; based on written records, these were believed to be used primarily for contraception.  I don’t know, but it sounds like those would hurt.  No wonder they were used for contraception, as the woman was probably injured afterwards and could not have sexual intercourse, I thought.

The Ancient Egyptians are credited with the invention of disposable tampons made from papyrus that were softened (The Period Blog; Utian, 2008).  Tampons were also used by the Byzantine women, who made them out of wool that was softened.  I can’t help but wonder if they knew when to pull them out.  Did they get toxic shock syndrome back then, from keeping them in too long and acquiring bacteria and then sepsis and then death?

Jump to the 1700’s, where the French considered menstrual blood to be seductive, and also a measure of female fertility (Corbin, 1986).  In 1986, Corbin writes:

 “…in 18th century France, menses was considered to be ‘impregnated with subtle vapors transmitted by the essence of life.  These were particularly seducing, as a woman was ‘dispersing seductive effluvia’ and ‘making an appeal for fertilization.’  Thus societies have celebrated the seductive aroma of menstruation, rather than stifled (it).”

In the early 1800’s, remember that women probably menstruated for less of their lifetime versus now.  Menarche started later, at 17 years of age, and women breastfed much longer, they were pregnant more often, menopause started earlier, and they were more likely to be ill or malnourished.   Today, the age for a girl’s first period is now 13 years old.  The common notion during the 1800's was that menstruation was controlled by lunar phases of the moon (Covington, 2007). 

The attitude of menstruation certainly has changed from the time of Aristotle, yet perhaps Aristotle was ahead of his time in simply talking about it. In talking about it, he gives it credence even though his perceptions were, in today's society, rather primitive. Nonetheless, we can learn from these ideas and use them to recreate our own attitudes. What exactly do we think about menopause today? 

The Period Blog: View The Period Blog here

Alain Corbin.  The Foul and the Fragrant: Odor and the French Social Imagination. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1986.

Covington, Sharon N.  Infertility Counseling.  A Comprehensive Handbook for Clinicians, 2nd Edition.  Georgetown University School of Medicine, Washington DV.  Linda Hammer Burns. View Book Here


Additional Chapters by Dr. Margaret Aranda
Archives of the Vagina: A Journey through Time

Medical Disclaimer: Nothing on this website is meant to diagnose, treat, or practice medicine. You must be seen in person by a physician for appropriate and individual medical treatment. If you have an emergency, call 9-1-1 in the USA.

Link Disclaimer: We are not responsible for any links that go outside of this website.

Friday, November 23, 2012

What a Man Should Know about Menopause

by Margaret Aranda, M.D. 

What are some important things that every husband should know about menopause and how it affects a woman? Well, I think the most important thing is that it may cause vaginal dryness, which leads to pain on intercourse. Some women complain that having sex feels 'like a knife stabbing me'. Really. It can hurt, and that's no fun for either partner. And there are other issues, too.

I have noticed, for example, that a postmenopausal woman can be talking to me at night, and indeed let's make that a ~ cool ~ night with a breeze.  Her upper lip and forehead are covered with sweat.  In fact, her upper eyebrows and neck glisten in the moonlight.  I innocently ask (during our conversation on menopause), "Do you get hot flashes?"

She says, "No, I never get hot flashes."

So I ask, "Do you have pain with intercourse?"  Well, no big response there.  I persist, "Do you enjoy sex?"  She scoffs, "I could take it or leave it.  I just have sex to make my husband happy, but if it was up to me, I wouldn't even have sex.  And I would not miss it."  She smiles ever so gently.  

So I back up again, "Well, why don't you enjoy it?"  
She thinks.  
She hesitates.  
I wait, patiently.  
"Well, I guess that it just doesn't feel good."  

Results are in from Menopause, The Blog, which you can Click Here to Read.  While millions of women in the USA may have vaginal atrophy from a decrease of estrogen production after menopause, only about an estimated 7% are getting treatment!  This is simply astounding to me!  If you are a husband and your wife is complaining that having sex hurts during menopause, then this affects you as a man. Studies show that a woman is reluctant to discuss the situation with her doctor, and doctors can be reluctant to discuss it with their patients. So what is a man to do?

Firstly, we are reminded once again that with education comes empowerment. Now that you know that your wife could be having this problem, it may be good to talk to her about it. It could be that a woman does not realize that she has vaginal dryness.  The change could have happened so gradually over the perimenopausal years, that she does not realize that she actually has pain on intercourse, or dyspareunia.   So let's just step back a moment and realize that vaginal dryness, vaginal atrophy, and pain on intercourse ~ all these things can happen.  It's ok.  

We just need to realize, like the perspiring woman who says she does not get hot flashes, that a woman's body continues to change with time. Men need to continue to be attuned to their woman's body.  Why? Because menopause can riddle a woman's life with insomnia, restlessness, agitation, depression, hot flashes by day, sweats by night, pain on intercourse, vaginal dryness, dry skin, and general irritability. To name a few.

Women can spend fully one-third of their lives in menopause.  
That's a long time to suffer unnecessarily. 
I know it affects you, because it has to affect you.
So we'd better get 'good' at being IN menopause, yes?  
Let's do!

Medical Disclaimer: Nothing on this website is meant to diagnose, treat, or practice medicine. You must be seen in person by a physician for appropriate and individual medical treatment. If you have an emergency, call 9-1-1 in the USA.

Link Disclaimer: We are not responsible for any links that go outside of this website.

Eating for Anti-Inflammatory Benefit: The IF Tracker

by Dr. Margaret Aranda

Just a short blurb here about the IF Tracker Ap. For $5.99, you enter each and every food or drink that you consume in a day.  The IF Tracker then assigns an 'inflammatory' the case may be, an "anti-inflammatory' number to each food you eat.  I've been on the Low-Glycemic Index Diet for about two months now, and I don't think that I will ever go back to eating the way that I did before (that was a Pre-Diabetic diet, and No Thank You!)  There are 2,200 foods pre-wired in to the Ap, and it is very user-friendly.  How did I learn about it?  From the Cenegenics Times quarterly Newsletter, of course.

For example, on Day One, I ended up with 1,200 positive points, only because I ate Atlantic salmon for dinner.  Surprisingly, my boiled egg, yogurt, salad, and carrots did not add up to much on the anti-inflammatory roster. None of these foods do much to 'add' to the anti-inflammation aspects of your diet.

On Day Two, I ate salmon, carrots, and salad too, but this time I skipped items that did not land me in the 'positive' range.  So at the end of the day, I could still drink my coffee with half-and-half, and wala! I'm 2,400 + points toward anti-inflammation.

I had no idea that peas, grapes, and papaya don't do much for me here.  It's the Serrano peppers, onions, garlic, olive oil, and fish that add in by adding a huge positive value to the roster.  Especially the fish. Wow, I can't believe how good fish is for you, and after only two days of the IF Tracker, I'm hooked.

Here's my dinner tonight:

Atlantic Salmon, farm-raised
4 oz
Olive Oil
2 tsp
Baby Carrots
¼ cup
Dill, fresh
¼ tsp
Garlic, raw
1/8 tsp
Onions, raw
1/8 cup
Tomatoes, cooked
2 tbsp
Papaya, fresh
1 1/3 tbsp
1 1/3 tsp
White flour, unbleached
¾ tsp

Add to the above: lox for breakfast with cup of coffee; almond snack; tuna salad with lettuce and tomatoes, zucchini, carrots.

My total IF Tracker points for the day? 2,479.
Calories = 1,104
Fat (g) = 72
Protein (g) = 79
Carbs (g) = 39

I'm loving this! I know that I still have a long way to go to really 'get' this, but hey, it's only Day Two!

The kids eat the whole plate, company raves aloud, and everyone feels great after a meal!
Here's the Menu:

Salmon and Olives, with Olive Sauce
Papaya and Tomato Salsa, Cilantro Bits
Baby Carrots, Garlic, Parsley, and Dill Weed

Mmmmm!  This dinner is a keeper!

Medical Disclaimer: Nothing on this website is meant to diagnose, treat, or practice medicine. You must be seen in person by a physician for appropriate and individual medical treatment. If you have an emergency, call 9-1-1 in the USA.

Link Disclaimer: We are not responsible for any links that go outside of this website.