La Ménépausie - The Menopause through History
The term menopause was first coined by the French Physician Charles Pierre Louis De Gardanne in 1821 since then women (and men!) all over have called this phase of life other less flattering things and still we struggle to have it recognised for what it is: a life transforming opportunity and something all women must go through, so why not make it a positive phase and not be held back by negativity and suffering with symptoms.
But what did women do before we had clothing that addressed the sudden surges in body temperature, sweating, body odour and the extreme chilling sensations associated with hot flushes? What happened to women in the dark ages of medicine and technology?
Throughout history women and medical practitioners have tried anything and everything to cope with the symptoms of the menopause (all 34 of them!) which range from hot flushes, night sweats, aches and pains, anxiety and weight gain to name but a few.
Some of those solutions included cannabis, opium, testicular juice (yes really!), carbonated soda and the crushed ovaries of animals, just to name a few. There were, of course, more aggressive treatments like vaginal injections of acetate of lead.
Some treatment options have stood the test of time. Black cohosh was first used by the Native Americans to treat menopausal symptoms is still used today and is currently being studied to gauge its effectiveness. Cannabis in the form of CBD is growing in popularity daily too.
However, in the 1930s when menopause was reclassified as a deficiency disease, Diethylstilbestrol (DES) was created and marketed as the more potent form of estrogen than its predecessors. Prior to that Ovariin was mass marketed in 1890 (made from pulverised cow ovaries!) by the pharmaceutical company Merck. DES has gone on to be one of the most popular forms of estrogen replacement therapy in the U.S. While its successor Prempro, a combination of Premarin and Provera eventually became the most widely dispensed drug in the U.S. We now refer to these solutions as HRT and thankfully the quality and the production methods have improved dramatically over the years.
What we also need to know, besides where to get a good portable fan, is that there are a myriad of non-medical options available such as breathing exercises, meditation, yoga, tai chi and now clothing.
We’ve come a long way from drinking testicular juice but we really need to keep conversations moving forward. Here at Become we're focused on one very important mission: to support female health and wellbeing. As well as bringing intelligent clothing solutions to millions of women of all ages (our stylish range of clothing has proven to significantly reduce the severity and impact of hot flushes and night sweats caused by menopause) we want to transform how women today talk about, think about and take on their menopause.
We refuse to submit to stereotypes and are passionate about breaking down the barriers surrounding the menopause. Too often, this is seen as a time when women wind down or when they stop being seen as sexy or cool.
We think differently and we are committed to pushing boundaries, kickstarting conversations, bringing women together and celebrating amazing menopausal ladies in all their guises.
So, thank you Aristotle for first recognising over 2000 years ago that women at 40 went through some sort of ‘change’ and could no longer bear children at 50 - but we’ll take it from here.
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