Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 12.djvu/254

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The second section of the book deals with the facts obtained in reply to this circular. These facts relate to the condition of health of childhood, and of parents or sisters; the age of going to and leaving school; the number of hours of study, of exercise; the nature of the study or occupation; pain during menstruation; the need and length of rest during the continuance of that function, and the time when rest first became necessary. The strength is measured by exercise, and several other conditions naturally suggested by the questions are given. These facts are tabulated under groups distinguished by either the total absence of pain or its presence at various periods. The author makes ingenious but legitimate use of her figures, hampered by the small number of individuals subjected to analysis. The number is sufficient, however, to foreshadow what is probably the amount of disability entailed upon women by the need of rest. Too much stress appears to be laid upon the mere presence of pain and the incapacity to work resulting from it, as if this were the only source of disability. Women are sometimes obliged to take rest from the nervous depression and mental disturbance which attend the exercise of the ovarian function; but it is possible that it is the better way, when the interpretation of the causes of incapacity is left to the average individual, that some well-understood term like "pain" be adopted. The section on statistics being long and complicated, we must overlook the steps of the process, and confine ourselves to the results.

Out of the number of women interrogated (286 cases), 94, or 35 per cent., declare themselves always free from discomfort (pain?) during menstruation; by adding to this number 46, who only suffered slightly, or occasionally during that period, this proportion is raised to 59 per cent.; on the other hand, 128 women, or 41 per cent., suffered seriously from pain; in them menstruation was, therefore, a morbid process. "In all such cases," remarks the author, "rest during the existence of such pain is as desirable as during the occurrence of any other." Of the 162 painful cases, including all degrees of pain, 53 per cent, had been so from the beginning; and in 47 per cent, the habit had been acquired. The relation of the age at which schooling began and the time spent in school to this catamenial pain is not very evident, as this condition is very nearly alike in all the groups. Of the painful group 18 per cent, received very little education, while in the normal group none are so specified. Of the first only eight per cent, pursued advanced studies beyond the age of twenty-two against 16 per cent, in the latter. Dr. Putnam-Jacobi is led to the conclusion from her figures, which are unfortunately too limited to afford even a guess at the real truth, that the highest education given to women is the most favorable to menstrual health; the least favorable being the ornamental education. In the matter of physical education, it was found that those who never suffered pain exercised more than the other class; but all classes were found to exercise too little during childhood and girlhood. The tables show that the family history exerts a greater influence over the menstrual life than occupation. The figures prove that two-thirds of those who suffered periodical pain inherited some special or general constitutional defect. Physical vigor, as measured by the capacity for exercise, was shown among those free from pain in the ability to walk an average of five miles; the average for those who habitually suffered pain was three and a quarter miles; and for the cases of slight or acquired pain four miles. "Capacity for exercise was nearly always in inverse proportion to the habit of pain." The tables show that persons without occupation suffered from painful menstruation in much larger proportion than those who were occupied. One would infer from this that the author, in a measure, traced this result to the want of occupation; while we should reverse the conditions of cause and effect, and explain the lack of occupation by the incapacity resulting from the periodical pain. The conclusion is also reached from the fact that marriage is opposed to the existence of habitual periodical pain. And, lastly, "as regards rest—the most important question for our purpose—we have seen that the above data do not suffice to inform us of its influence;" and thus, so far as the main theme of the book is concerned, the author leaves the "question of