Wednesday, October 17, 2012

What Aristotle Thought of Menstruation


Student of Plato, Aristotle (384 BC - 322 BC) had a view of women that would be viewed as rather peculiar today.   He Considered woman to be unfinished males, 'deformed'.  




In his Treatise On the Generation of Animals, he is viewed as being a lesser sort of menstrual blood 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 appea is in males and it is emitted, the menstrual discharge begins to flow in females, their voice on the changes and their breasts begin to become conspicuous; and similarly, in the decline of life the power to generate the menstrual discharge ceases ceases in males and in females ... "

A novel Invention by the Ancient Greeks was a bumper 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 do not 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, Utica, 2008).   Tampons were also used by the Byzantine women, who made ​​them out of wool that was softened.  I can not help but wonder if they knew when to pull them out.   Did they get back the toxic shock syndrome who, from keeping them in too long and acquiring the bacteria and the sepsis and the 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 18 th 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 has celebrated the seductive aroma of menstruation, rather than stifled (it). "

In the early 1800's, remember that woman probably menstruated for less of them are lifetime versus now.   Menarch to StartEd later, at 17 years of age, and women breastfed much longer, they were pregnant more often, menopause StartEd only give it, 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). 


References:
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.   Comprehensive Handbook for Clinicians, 2 nd Edition.   Georgetown University School of Medicine, Washington DVR.   Linda Hammer Burns.  View Book Here

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