Menopause Throughout History
Looking at attitudes and treatments for menopause throughout history I can say that thankfully we have vastly improved. Our treatments are more advanced and whilst the menopause is still considered a taboo topic, we are breaking down the barriers more than ever before.
Get Her to the Greek!
The menopause is not a new phenomenon and has been occurring naturally in women for centuries. Whilst the official word ‘menopause’ was not coined until 1821, there are references to it in Ancient Greece, with Aristotle noting that women do not give birth after the age of 40. Otherwise, the Greeks wrote very little about the menses, possibly due to considering it a natural process.
Walk like an Egyptian? Maybe not!
On the other hand the Ancient Egyptians did not think the menopause was a natural part of life. There is reference to the menopause when Ramses II received a letter from a King asking if there is anything he can do to help his sixty year old sister to bear a child. Ramses II is said to have replied saying that not even his best doctors with their best medicines could help. Whilst this shows an understanding that the menopause is not reversible, the menopause was not considered a natural part of growing older in the ancient Egyptian times. In other cases menopausal women were diagnosed as being bewitched!
Herbs back in thyme
Some natural treatments for the menopause are still being used today. For example the Ancient Chinese used to relieve menopause with dong quai (a herbal remedy) or through acupuncture. Whereas the Native Americans knew the value of black cohosh for easing menopausal symptoms early on.
Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus
In the 12th century a female doctor, Trotula of Salerno from Italy, wrote about the biological differences between males and females and references the age women will stop reproducing. She comments on how lifestyle factors will affect the age woman stop their menstrual cycle, noticing that those who were leaner started their menopause at a different time to an overweight woman.
Attitudes to menopause throughout history have always been considered a taboo topic, with Trotula of Salerno revealing that women “dare not reveal difficulties of their sickness to a male doctor”!
Not to brag but I haven’t had a mood swing in like, 7 minutes…
In the 1800s when women complained of depression, hot flashes and irregular periods, in return they were diagnosed with hysteria. Like that’s what you need to hear! The remedies prescribed were not much better, such as a pre-meal mix of carbonated soda, a large belladonna plaster placed at the pit of the stomach and vaginal injections with a solution of acetate lead. Yikes!
Chemistry is difficult. Those who study it have alkynes of trouble.
In the early 1900s Doctors had little to offer menopausal women, other than lifestyle changes. Thankfully, in 1902 hormones were discovered and, whilst treatments took time to develop, this discovery marked a change in the understanding of the menopause.
Ovarian therapy started to become available, a predecessor to our modern day HRT, and by 1940 Premarin with estrogen began to be marketed as a treatment for the menopause.
Meno-fastforward to Today
Nowadays there are many options for treating the menopause. Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) is commonly available whilst natural treatments are options too. Symptoms such as vaginal dryness can be treated concomitantly alongside HRT with vaginal moisturisers, such as Feminesse Moisturiser.
Positively, anthropologists have found a biological reason for the menopause. In hunter-gather times post-menopausal women were needed to help secure the health of the young. Grandmothers could collect fruit and take care of the children, helping ensure their survival.
Whatever the reason we go through it, all women above the age of 40 will experience the menopause. You now have the opportunity to choose the treatment that’s perfect, just for you. After all, everyone is different!