Women and Their Crazy Diseases, Part Seven

In order to wash our brains from the peril that is Fifty Shades, let us go back to medical texts of yore, with Dr. Dewees and his Treatise on the Diseases of Females.

Chapter 7 – Of Menorrhagia. We take this to mean an abnormally heavy period. Dewees claims that this is different from the “regular” menstrual discharge, as this is actually blood, and that is, well, whatever that is. He posits that the menorrhagia is caused from different vessels than that which brings the menses, but in the end, it doesn’t matter, he says, because it still wouldn’t help fix it. If it all stems from the same place, that just makes it more confusing! Because once the menses are done, they’re done, right? Gardien disagrees with him. Dewees hopes that someday soon, they can figure it out and prescribe something to help these women.

Yet again, menorrhagia is blamed on many things – foot stoves, living in cities, drinking tea and coffee, and dancing too much. Women in Holland are very prone to this complaint, he says, for the above reasons. Oh, those Dutch damsels!

For cures, the same things apply as in previous cases that we’ve seen: milk and vegetable diet, abstaining from alcohol and spices, leeches, and also sleeping in a cool room on a hard bed with very few, if any, bedclothes. Liberal doses of lead acetate (highly poisonous) with opium was prescribed. If the patient vomited due to this, it could always be given as an enema, replacing the opium with laudanum.


A more recent treatment was a tincture of secale cornutum, which is a fungus from the rye plant. It is still used today in homeopathic remedies, in very small doses, as it can be poisonous. It was given in water until the woman experienced uterine pain, and then they’d do it AGAIN, at longer intervals, I suppose to continually irritate the system until it bled itself dry. Some doctors also applied cold whiskey or vinegar to the vulva, or even ice. If all else fails, stick some lead acetate in a syringe and wash out the inside of your vag. Yay, poisons!


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