Is Menstruation Obsolete? / Edition 1

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Overview

Is Menstruation Obsolete? argues that regular monthly bleeding is not the "natural" state of women, and that it actually places them at risk of several medical conditions of varying severity. The authors maintain that while menstruation may be culturally significant, it is not medically meaningful. Moreover, they propose that suppressing menstruation has remarkable health advantages.
Because of cultural changes, shorter durations of breast feeding, and birth control, the reproductive patterns of modern women no longer resemble that of their Stone age ancestors. Women have moved from the age of incessant reproduction to the age of incessant menstruation. Consequently, they often suffer from clinical disorders related to menstruation: anemia, endometriosis, and PMS, just to name a few. The authors encourage readers to recognize what has gone previously unnoticed that this monthly discomfort is simply not obligatory. They present compelling evidence that the suppression of menstruation is a viable option for women today, and that it can be easily attained through the use of birth control pills. In fact, they reveal that contraceptive manufacturers, knowing that many women equate menstruation with femininity and that without monthly bleeding would fear that they were pregnant, engineered pill dosage regimens to ensure the continuation of their cycles. Indeed, throughout history societies have assigned menstruation powerful meaning, and Is Menstruation Obsolete? presents a fascinating history of how menstruation inspired doctors to try therapeutic bleeding for a variety of ailments, and how this therapy remained dominant in Western medicine until the early 20th century.
Is Menstruation Obsolete? offers women a fresh view of menstruation, providing them with the information they need to make progressive choices about their health. This is a message whose time has come.

The book contains no figures.

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Editorial Reviews

Doody's Review Service
Reviewer: Raymond W. Ke, MD (University of Tennessee at Memphis College of Medicine)
Description: This book, which is essentially an essay, argues that regular monthly menses is not a natural state in women and that it actually places them at risk for disease. The authors construct their arguments by first reviewing a historical frame of reference for menstruation, then providing evidence linking menstruation to disease. The suppression of menstruation, both naturally and medically is discussed next, followed by possible criticisms of the arguments.
Purpose: The authors are vigorous in their arguments supporting suppression of menstruation as a means of lowering medical risk. It is clear that they believe strongly in the notion that regular menstruation is outdated and harmful. They admit that their position may invite a feminist and political outcry, but also use the same means to further their argument, suggesting that incessant ovulation is a conspiracy by the medical and pharmaceutical industry to preserve the status quo.
Audience: This book is written squarely for the lay public. It is primarily directed at women of reproductive age to take a critical look at their own menstrual patterns. Dr. Coutinho is a gynecologist who pioneered the use of an injectable contraceptive in his home country of Brazil. Dr. Sheldon Segal assisted Dr. Coutinho in the translation of the original Portuguese manuscript.
Features: This book takes readers through complex medical issues in an easily readable and organized style. Language appropriate for the audience is used, and tantalizing anecdotes such as one regarding Marilyn Monroe, in order to maintain the reader's interest, is inserted. However, much of the book is repetitive and tiresome in how it uses the same few facts to buttress the authors' arguments. It is not altogether balanced and makes liberal assumptions regarding certain studies to support the authors' argument. For instance, the citation that gymnasts have higher bone density than non-athletes who menstruate regularly fails to address the fact that most gymnasts do menstruate regularly. However, of the ones who stop menstruating, bone density does decline. The book is interspersed with facts that are, in certain instances, highly circumstantial and, in others, plainly wrong. To his credit, the authors do provide useful and understandable information regarding menstruation and its associated diseases. They also address some possible arguments with their position, although he will often use ridicule rather than debate when discussing positions counter to theirs. They are careful to remind all patients to discuss their individual cases with their physicians before initiating any therapy.
Assessment: If one reviews this book from a lay perspective, then it does serve a useful purpose in providing meaningful information about a subject that is extremely common and highly ignored. However, the authors' assertion that incessant menstruation is harmful and, furthermore, the medical suppression of such menstruation will be beneficial, requires a huge leap in faith. Although many physicians have used the techniques proposed for many pathologic conditions, long-term use in normally menstruating women as a means of lowering future disease risk is clearly unproven. In that light, a book that argues for these techniques directly to the public without any supporting evidence is irresponsible.
Raymond W. Ke
This book, which is essentially an essay, argues that regular monthly menses is not a natural state in women and that it actually places them at risk for disease. The authors construct their arguments by first reviewing a historical frame of reference for menstruation, then providing evidence linking menstruation to disease. The suppression of menstruation, both naturally and medically is discussed next, followed by possible criticisms of the arguments. The authors are vigorous in their arguments supporting suppression of menstruation as a means of lowering medical risk. It is clear that they believe strongly in the notion that regular menstruation is outdated and harmful. They admit that their position may invite a feminist and political outcry, but also use the same means to further their argument, suggesting that incessant ovulation is a conspiracy by the medical and pharmaceutical industry to preserve the status quo. This book is written squarely for the lay public. It is primarily directed at women of reproductive age to take a critical look at their own menstrual patterns. Dr. Coutinho is a gynecologist who pioneered the use of an injectable contraceptive in his home country of Brazil. Dr. Sheldon Segal assisted Dr. Coutinho in the translation of the original Portuguese manuscript. This book takes readers through complex medical issues in an easily readable and organized style. Language appropriate for the audience is used, and tantalizing anecdotes such as one regarding Marilyn Monroe, in order to maintain the reader's interest, is inserted. However, much of the book is repetitive and tiresome in how it uses the same few facts to buttress the authors' arguments. It is notaltogether balanced and makes liberal assumptions regarding certain studies to support the authors' argument. For instance, the citation that gymnasts have higher bone density than non-athletes who menstruate regularly fails to address the fact that most gymnasts do menstruate regularly. However, of the ones who stop menstruating, bone density does decline. The book is interspersed with facts that are, in certain instances, highly circumstantial and, in others, plainly wrong. To his credit, the authors do provide useful and understandable information regarding menstruation and its associated diseases. They also address some possible arguments with their position, although he will often use ridicule rather than debate when discussing positions counter to theirs. They are careful to remind all patients to discuss their individual cases with their physicians before initiating any therapy. If one reviews this book from a lay perspective, then it does serve a useful purpose in providing meaningful information about a subject that is extremely common and highly ignored. However, the authors' assertion that incessant menstruation is harmful and, furthermore, the medical suppression of such menstruation will be beneficial, requires a huge leap in faith. Although many physicians have used the techniques proposed for many pathologic conditions, long-term use in normally menstruating women as a means of lowering future disease risk is clearly unproven. In that light, a book that argues for these techniques directly to the public without any supporting evidence is irresponsible.
Library Journal
Only a man could have written this book! Coutinho, a Brazilian gynecologist and family planning expert, argues that menstruation is not natural and is, in fact, not healthy. He supports this theory with a strange interpretation of historical and clinical evidence. Because women in primitive times had shorter life spans and spent most of their lives pregnant and breast-feeding, he notes, they had few or no periods. Now women live longer and start families later in life, so they have lots of periods--which, according to the author, causes anemia, endometriosis, and PMS. As a result, and in order to safeguard their health, Coutinho suggests that women should prevent their ovulation by using contraceptive pills continuously. This alternative and controversial view not only ignores the cultural significance of menstruation, it also lacks scientific foundation and is potentially harmful to women. It is however, an unusual interpretation of medical and historical data, distinct from classic works such as Janice Delaney's The Curse: A Cultural History of Menstruation (1976), which consider the social and cultural issues of menstruation but not its clinical aspects. This book is sure to get a lot of publicity because of its radical thesis, so, despite its circular and flawed logic it is recommended for academic and large public libraries.--Barbara M. Bibel, Oakland P.L., CA Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Booknews
A Brazilian physician pioneer in contraceptive methods discusses views of menstruation from ancient times; how this process inspired therapeutic bloodletting; and provocatively advocates keeping non- childbearing women menstruation-free to avert PMS, anemia, endometriosis, and other health problems. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

1 Star from Doody
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195130218
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 10/28/1999
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 208
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

A recognized expert in uterine and Fallopian tube physiology and pharmacology, Dr. Elsimar M. Coutinho is a pioneer in the development of contraceptive methods. Full Professor of Gynecology, Obstetrics and Human Reproduction at Federal University of Bahia School of Medicine, Brazil, he is the author of three books on sexuality and conception control and has published over 300 scientific articles in medical journals. He has been a key figure in Brazil and Latin America in promoting family planning, reproductive health, and sex education. He lives in Bahia, Brazil. Sheldon J. Segal, Ph.D., is Distinguished Scientist at the Population Council, New York, and is former Director for Population Sciences at The Rockefeller Foundation. He is a biomedical scientist who has authored over 350 publications in the fields of embryology, endocrinology, contraceptive development,and family planning. A founding director of the Center for Reproductive Law and Policy, he continues to serve as a Trustee. He lives in Hartsdale, New York.

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Table of Contents

Foreword
Preface
Introduction
1. Menstruation in Western Civilization
2. Menstruation: The Basis of Therapeutic Bloodletting
3. Why Women Menstruate
4. Premenstrual Syndrome
5. Menstrual Cycle-Related Disorders
6. Natural Suppression of Menstruation
7. Medical Suppression of Menstruation
8. In Support of Menstruation
9. Absence of Menstruation and Disease
10. Conclusion
Glossary
Bibliographic Essay
Index

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 24, 2012

    Another view:

    Well I started my period when i was 11 and it was a traumatizing experience. I bled way more than was normal. I hated my period and my siblings have always mad fun of me. I was miserable and i was put on a birth control pill which supresses my cycle to once a year. It has helped me soooo much as i also have depression and i dont feel a slave to my own body anymore. I would recomend thisbto anyone abive had no side effects or anything. My doctor (a women) has also said it could help prevent ovarion cancer which runs in the family.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 19, 2002

    Are they NUTS? no.. just men.

    These guys are well, guys. When left to attune with the world (and women ) around them, women usually fall in alignment with the moon's cycle. This is no accident. Our nature is more than biologic, it's spiritual-(read The Wise Wound by Penelope Shuttle and Peter Redgrove) I trust nature alot more then a man -who has invented all sorts of CURES that make patients sicker or worse dead- to keep my body healthy, women's nature is cyclic, as opposed to a men's which is more focused and linear. Are the authors truly trying to prevent dis-ease in women? Or are these dr's playing God/dess again? Women are different from men, and our menstrual capacity makes us different , I for one wouldn't trade this gift, even if they could guarantee me that I would be disease free till the end.

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