PREMENSTRUAL SYNDROME: DOES ANYONE CARE?
One of the first people to recognize the effects of premenstrual syndrome was Dr. Katharina Dalton, a British physician who in 1953 published the first paper in British medical literature on PMS. She wrote the paper with Dr. Raymond Greene, a noted endocrinologist who had also been working on premenstrual syndrome at the time.
Dr. Dalton's experiences with her own period led her to suspect that premenstrual changes had far-ranging effects. She herself got a splitting migraine headache each month before her period. In 1953, when she was called in on the case of a woman who had asthmatic seizures each month just before she menstruated, Dr. Dalton started to consider linking different symptoms with the premenstrual condition. Another case of asthma turned up, followed by a woman with a monthly migraine. Drs. Dalton and Greene interviewed eighty-seven sufferers in order to write their first paper, and the rest, as they say, is medical history.
Dr. Dalton is now an acknowledged pioneer and authority in the field of premenstrual syndrome. She has been able to identify premenstrual changes as influences in criminal behavior, accidents, drug abuse, and death. Her work is applied to women in factories, schools, prisons, and hospitals, and there seems to be no one who has matched her dedication to the problem. Her books on premenstrual syndrome are widely known in the medical profession and, as mentioned earlier, her recent book published by Hunter House, Once a Month, is available in paperback at major bookstores. I highly recommend this book for women who are suffering, for it offers practical knowledge, understanding, and hope.
Premenstrual syndrome hits the mighty and the meek, as Dr. Dalton points out when she describes the relationship of eighteen-year-old Queen Victoria to Albert in her book. Albert, a very rational man, could not find the logic in Victoria's unpredictable, emotional outbursts. She would hurl objects and scream at him and no matter what he did—shouted, kept quiet—he was wrong. Only Victoria's pregnancies gave him spells of serenity, and he looked forward to them because pregnancy, at least, he understood.
Men have not comprehended the turmoil that can ensue within women during their premenstrual days, and women, since doctors have told them that they're physically fine, have not connected personally disturbing, out-of-control times to their upcoming menstruations. Women need to be strong and to evaluate their premenstrual changes without fear that they'll be patronized or made to feel crazy.
Many forward-thinking doctors are doing their best to champion women by investigating the origins of premenstrual syndrome. Some physicians believe the malady is caused by adrenal hormones, but most scientists are certain that an imbalance of female hormones is the source, while still others contend that both hormonal types are triggering the condition. There is research being done on the relationship of vitamin B6 to premenstrual syndrome, and since the syndrome involves depression, psychiatrists have also begun looking for clues.
Finally, women themselves are trying to help each other. Support groups have been greated to give women educational insights and emotional ballast for coping with their individual symptoms.
The days of women being treated with Valium and other assorted tranquilizers for their premenstrual problems must come to an end. The letters I've received have shown me that women are ready to fight for themselves, investigate extensively on their own, and use all their energies to overcome premenstrual syndrome. They write about their baffled spouses, frightened children, and their own personal tortures. It's true that they can find some relief at this time, but women must demand improved treatments through continued research. After learning about the latest remedies from responses to the following letters, women might request new cures from their doctors. First, however, a woman must recognize her symptoms to be able to judge the best treatments.
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