THE MANAGEMENT OF THE MONTHLY ILLNESS.
Details of the nature of the monthly illness have been given above, in so far as they seemed advisable for the purpose of communicating some intelligent appreciation of the character of occurrences of which every woman's body is the seat. It is but in accordance with reason and common sense that a woman should have some degree of accurate knowledge of so impor tant a function. Disturbances of this function are surprisingly common, are, indeed, appa rently becoming more and more common, many of the conditions of modern life directly dispos ing to them. That they are the cause of much suffering, borne largely in silence because of the natural modesty of women and dislike to seek advice on so delicate a subject, is known to every medical practitioner of even limited ex perience. Ignorance is undoubtedly mischiev ous; and a certain amount of knowledge nn the part of every woman desirable. Nowadays the only question is how, when, and by whom ought the necessary information to be imparted to every girl. Every medical man recognizes that a little knowledge of the subject would enable women to avoid much of the misery and suffering they incur by their ignorance. For this purpose the above details have been given as plainly and simply as seemed to suit the circumstances of the case, and for the same purpose the following general directions as to the management of the "illness" are given.
It is because the occurrence of the monthly illness is natural and periodic that women, so familiar do they become with the process, pay little heed to its indications, and do not much take it into consideration in regulating their habits of life. In arranging for their work or their pleasure too little account is taken of it, though every woman knows pretty accurately the time of its return. Even when some dis turbance arises connected with it, less attention is paid than would be to disorder of the same extent of any other function. All this is the very reverse of what ought to be. For, at the very outset, it must be remembered that at the period of the illness the whole system is in a highly-strung condition, extremely sensitive to every variety of influence ; the nervous system, in particular, is peculiarly impressionable, and the person, therefore, more open than at any other time to disorder of various kinds. It would only, on this account, be in accordance with reason and common sense that special care should be taken while the illness lasts, and for a brief period both before it and after it to maintain good bodily health, and to guard against everything likely to affect it. Thus common sense would suggest that exposure to cold, to damp, to draughts, and such like should be avoided. Thus during the period mere jump ing out of a warm bed and placing the bare feet on a cold floor or wax-cloth has often been the cause of serious illness. Wet clothing and wet feet are specially hurtful. If women would not permit the familiarity of the process to make them for&etful, it would not be necessary to insist on these obvious precautions. It requires
very little thought, moreover, to make one per ceive that, at a time when so much bodily energy is directed to one function, and when so great a drain on the system is present, less, considerably less, than the usual amount of exertion ought to be undertaken. Indeed, during the days that the illness lasts, much more rest than is customary ought to be in dulged in, no work requiring any strain should be undertaken, fatigue should be carefully avoided, the ordinary duties should be light , ened, and some rest and quiet taken during the day. This is not always possible ; but every endeavour ought to be made, even when the usual day's duties must be performed, to make them as light as possible, and to undertake no exertion that can be avoided. If this is so with even necessary duties, it is excessive foolishness for a woman to expose herself to undue excite ment during the period, specially the excite ment of a round of pleasure or gaiety. Social gatherings, dances, games implying physical exertion, such as lawn-tennis, boating, riding or walking excursions—all these should be re frained from at such a time. Those who are in charge of houses ought not to leave the illness out of account in arranging their domestic con cerns. The dreaded "spring cleaning" and the inevitable "washing day" ought to give way when necessary, and mistresses ought not to forget that some days of apparently slovenly and half-hearted work may have a reason other than that of idleness or carelessness, and ought, when needful, to lighten the burden of work to their servants accordingly. Those who have the care of young girls, whether their own daughters or not, do not fulfil their duty to them unless they exercise supervision over them sufficient to prevent them by their ignorance incurring needless risks.
Warm clothing is particularly needed during the period. Of the kind of clothing enough has already been said, but the desirability of some flannel clothing may again be urged.
Diet during the Period.—As regards food, not much special direction ought to be required.
In the sections on FOOD full explanations are entered into regarding the quantity and quality of foods necessary for the maintenance of vigor ous bodily health, and the relation of these to work is discussed. But it is plain that when special demands are made on the system, as they are at each recurring menstrual period, special care needs to be taken that a due quan tity of nourishment is supplied. At such a time any deficiency in quantity of food or any error in kind will become most evident and most hurtful. Often at this period women are less inclined for food when it is most needed, and are too prone to quiet any appetite that is present with cups of tea, which, while they re fresh and stimulate for the moment, supply no real nutriment. Plain, simple, easily-digested food of the ordinary kind at regular intervals is very necessary. At the same time, too plentiful or too rich feeding is also injurious. Rich dishes, pastries, &c., are not to be encouraged.