Special Diseases Of Women
( Originally Published 1918 )
PLEASE note that we do not maintain that the suggestions found herein for the treatment of disease will take the place of a competent doctor. They can be used when one is not able to secure expert advice, or they can assist one in selecting an intelligent physician who thoroughly understands the principles of natural treatment. All injections, or other medical remedial measures suggested, should be prepared by medical or other qualified practitioner. It is not safe to tamper with remedies of this sort without detailed knowledge of their use.
In discussing the diseases peculiar to women we do not do so with the idea that a competent physician is not necessary for their diagnosis and treatment, for in many cases only a careful examination will disclose the true nature of the trouble and insure its recognition early enough to effect a cure. We wish, however, to give a few ideas which will help to a true understanding of the conditions mentioned and assist in selecting the right treatment. Most of the operations performed on women are for pelvic disturbances, which have begun as simple inflammation and, because of negligence or wrong treatment, have gone on to organic disease. Indeed, many gynecologists admit that they have no specific cure for local diseases of women and their usual practice is to wait until the case gets well of itself, or goes on until operation is indicated. Modern gynecology has practically devolved into pelvic and abdominal surgery. We know of many women who have escaped operation and have become well by following out constructive and conservative natural treatment.
This troublesome complaint, commonly known as "the whites," or flur albus, is not a specific disease in itself, but is a symptom of inflammation. Since most women think of it as a special disease, and as it is one of the first symptoms that takes them to a physician, we will discuss it from that viewpoint.
Leucorrhea is a catarrhal discharge from the mucus membrane of the genital tract and may be either acute or chronic, resulting either from a simple or a specific inflammation.
Its presence indicates an inflammation of the vulva, vagina, cervix, uterus, or tubes. It may, however, be part of a general catarrhal condition of the entire system in which case only constitutional treatment is indicated.
Causes.—Exposure to cold and wet ; long-continued standing, or too much running of sewing machines ; displacements of the uterus ; lacerations and ulcerations of the cervix ; excessive sexual intercourse ; frequent or prolonged sexual excitement ; wearing pessaries ; too frequent use of vaginal douches ; worms from the rectum gaining entrance to the vagina; acute infectious diseases; street dust; irritation from acrid uterine and vaginal discharges ; retention of decomposed menstrual fluid ; overeating and the use of alcohol, drugs, tea and coffee ; highly seasoned foods ; the presence of polypi, tumors and cysts. In many instances gonorrheal infection is the cause.
Symptoms.—The whitish discharge is the principal symptom, but in many cases, especially when the uterus and tubes are involved, there is more or less pain and sense of fullness in the pelvic region as well as backache and symptoms referable to the organs involved. The discharge may be profuse, necessitating the constant wearing of a napkin. It may be serous, or thick and purulent in consistency. If due to infection there will be fever. In most cases, however, the condition is chronic from the onset, and the discharge, with a slight uncomfortable feeling, and itching and burning of the external genitals, are the only symptoms.
Treatment.—Most women resort to the vaginal douche upon the first appearance of a leucorrhea. This is often a mistake, as it perpetuates the trouble. Indeed the present-day promiscuous use of douches with strong antiseptics is a fruitful cause of leucorrhea. The mucous membrane lining the genital tract is self-cleansing; the secretions are normally acid and protect from infection. The douches, especially if alkaline, or containing chemical antiseptics, destroy this element and the membrane loses its defense. Besides, the normal current or flow is downward and out, and the douche may carry infective material upward to the uterus and tubes and even to the peritoneal cavity. This is a very potent and constant cause of female illness.
Locally the only treatment advisable is external cleanliness by frequent use of soap and hot water and the application of a bland lubricant or powder to prevent itching and burning. In many cases even these are not necessary. When a napkin is worn it must be changed frequently. A hot sitz bath should be taken at least twice daily if the case is severe. This should last for ten to thirty minutes. If this is inconvenient, the parts may be bathed with hot water for ten minutes. In some cases hot and cold sitz baths are more efficacious, alternating three or four times, remaining in the cold water one or two minutes and in the hot water three or four minutes. Use great caution however to avoid the ill effect that sometimes results from remaining in the cold sitz bath too long. The hot foot bath also is beneficial. If the irritative cause is discoverable, this of course must be removed. A few days in bed will help to lessen pelvic congestion, but is seldom necessary. Fasting is one of the best means for reducing inflammation in any part of the body and restoring membranes to the normal condition. A fast of from five to ten days will be of great benefit. A series of short fasts can be taken if a long fast is undesirable. These should be followed by the exclusive milk diet, or a fruit or vegetarian diet. The idea is to improve the quality of the blood, and then by exercise and baths restore a normal circulation and thus reduce the pelvic congestion. Abdominal massage and bending exercises are of inestimable benefit.
Of course it is even more important to avoid producing pelvic congestion than to reduce it, and as a preventive policy it is, therefore, especially necessary to avoid sexual excitement. This is unquestionably one of the most common causes of leucorrhea, and all habits and conditions conducive to such excitement should receive attention. Particularly, a condition of unsatisfied passion should be avoided. The reader is referred to the chapter on the "Dangers of Love Making" for specific advice on this phase of the subject.
This ailment comes under the heading of venereal diseases. An extraordinary advance has been made in its treatment recently by the medical profession. Seek the aid of a competent physician as early as possible when you have any reason to believe you have acquired the disease. Do not assume the serious risk of hampering with yourself in self-treatment. The following in-formation is presented for the benefit of physicians who are desirous of learning something of the drugless treatment and to assist those who are unable to secure the advice of a competent physician.
Specific inflammation in the female is a serious condition. Its effects are more far-reaching than those of any other disease. Beginning as an inflammation of the vulva, vagina and urethra it may extend through continuity of the membrane to the cervix, uterus, tubes, ovaries, peritoneum, bladder, ureters and kidneys, resulting in abscess, sterility, nephritis, or even death.
Cause.—The gonococcus is the associated bacterium. The disease is usually acquired during sexual relations, although it may be transmitted by means of infected towels, clothing, toilet seats and bath tubs. In all cases in which there is a thick purulent discharge from the vagina, a microscopic examination should be made, not only to diagnose the condition, but for the protection of the patient and others.
Symptoms.—A few days after exposure to infection the patient will notice an uncomfortable feeling in the vagina and at the vulva—an irritation with heat, redness, swelling and perhaps pain. The parts are at first dry, but gradually there appears a slight watery discharge which rapidly becomes thick, yellowish, or greenish. The parts become more reddened and swollen and painful to pressure. The urethra practically al-ways becomes infected and burning urination follows. The glands in the groin become swollen and tender. The urethral and vaginal glands are infected and may become greatly swollen, retaining the infection for a long time after the acute condition subsides. The vaginal walls become roughened, especially if corrosive antiseptics are used, thus allowing the infection to penetrate to the deeper layers of the mucous membrane. Should the inflammation extend to the uterus and tubes there will be general pelvic pain and elevation of temperature and pulse. The acute condition subsides and is followed by a chronic leucorrhea which may be present for a long while, but gradually subsides. The urine may be cloudy and contain shreds for many months.
Treatment.—Many advanced medical men recommend as an injection, or application to the inflamed surface, of iodagol, chlorazene, sulphide of zinc, or allied solutions, for the treatment of this complaint in its first stages. Usually when this treatment is applied to the inflamed surface soon after its first appearance the symptoms disappear and the disease does not have a chance to develop. In the vagina the douche will have to be used; in the urethra the injection will have to be used. In many cases where treatment of this character is quickly applied every two or three hours at the beginning of the first symptoms the disease can be eliminated before it has had a chance to secure a definite foothold.
The statement is made by many hygienic physicians that this method of treatment drives the disease back into the system. As this disease is due entirely to local infection, many maintain that the quick removal of the first symptoms indicates the elimination of the disease. This theory cannot be substantiated and cannot be disproven. The facts, however, must be recognized that this is indeed a serious disease and that to allow it to proceed on its ordinary course of development means serious inflammation of the membranous surface that leads into the womb, the fallopian tubes, urethra, bladder, etc. There-fore it is well if possible to avoid the risk of serious infection of this sort, and if a proper anti-septic can be used which immediately stops the advancement of the disease, it is doubtless the safest procedure in many cases, especially when the full details of the natural treatment cannot be immediately adopted, though we must admit, that this suggestion does not harmonize with the theories of natural treatment.
In following the principles of strictly natural treatment no half-way measures are of value. You must adhere strictly to the rules if results are to be expected. The patient should, if possible, go to bed and keep quiet. If this is not feasible, at least as little exertion as is consistent with the daily life should be allowed. She should keep off her feet, and avoid the running of sewing machines, dancing and riding on street cars and automobiles. A strict fast of from five to ten days at this time will do more to reduce the inflammation than any other measure. Large quantities of water should be drunk, at least four quarts each day. If fasting is uncomfortable, fruit juices may be taken. In case of urethral infection the patient should make a practice of urinating every hour.
The question of the douche again comes up. Some of the best gynecologists are declaring against it. The normal secretions of the vagina will combat the disease and with the douche there is always the danger of carrying infection to the uterus and tubes. The vagina has great facility for cleansing itself and throwing off secretions, and the direction of the flow is downward. The very strong astringent solutions commonly used are responsible for the eroding of the outer layers of the mucous membrane, thus allowing the infection to go deeper and producing a chronic gonorrhea. We therefore advise against the too frequent or indiscriminate use of douches, especially when strong chemical antiseptics are used. There is no doubt that there are many instances in which a douche is helpful for the sake of cleanliness, but it should be understood clearly that this is the purpose for which it is employed. A boric acid solution is undoubtedly the ideal agent for the purpose, although a weak saline solution (a teaspoonful of salt in a quart of water) is also very satisfactory. Where there is a very profuse discharge there is no doubt that such a douche is advisable. It should be said, however, that the common fountain syringe douche is not usually very satifactory, inasmuch as there are many folds of the mucous membrane which are not reached. The patient should follow closely the instructions of her physician in the preparation and use of douches. Self-prescribed treatment is dangerous.
A pad or napkin must be worn for collecting the discharge. This must be changed frequently, the external genitals being washed with soap and hot water at every changing. We might also mention in this connection that the hands must be thoroughly washed with strong soap and hot water immediately after changing the pads. Care must be observed that the infected fingers do not touch the eyes, as a gonorrheal ophthalmia is quickly fatal to sight. The pads must be burned after removal. The bath-tub and towels must be disinfected after use. If there are children in the house they must be protected from possible infection.
During the most acute stage the hot sitz bath should be taken several times daily, lasting from fifteen to thirty minutes. The bowels must be kept free, but the enema must under no circumstances be used for this purpose, as the danger of rectal infection is great. Saline laxatives (a table-spoonful of common table salt in a glass of water, for instance), any of the laxative mineral waters on the market, or regulation with foods, should be relied on.
The fast should be followed by the milk diet, using five or six quarts each day. A combination milk and fruit diet may be used, with four meals daily consisting of a pint or more of milk and whatever fruit is desired at each meal. When resuming the usual diet, care must be observed not to overeat, to avoid highly seasoned foods, alcoholic drinks, tea and coffee. Flesh foods are better left alone.
Sexual intercourse must of course be forbidden until repeated microscopical examinations show the absence of the gonococus in the secretions of the urethral and vaginal glands.
PELVIC INFLAMMATION.—These include: Salpingitis, or inflammation of the fallopian tubes ; oophoritis, or inflammation of the ovaries; peritonitis, or inflammation of the pelvic peritoneum ; pelvic cellulitis, or inflammation of the tissues surrounding the uterus and its appendages. These are all dangerous conditions and are usually due to gonorrheal infection, or infection from the use of instruments, abortions, or child-birth. They may also arise by extension of infection from the appendix and bladder.
The mildest stage of pelvic inflammation is a slight inflammation of the tubes, and no damage is done except a small amount of thickening of the walls of the tubes, both ends of the parts remaining open. In the second stage the tubes, ovaries, uterus and intestines are bound together by adhesions, but there is no retention of pus. The third stage is the tubal abscess, known popularly as a "pus tube", in which the pus is retained within the distended tube. This is a dangerous. condition as the tube may rupture causing a. fatal peritonitis. In the fourth stage the pus has escaped from the tube hit is still walled in by the surrounding peritoneum, forming a large abscess. The fifth stage is an acute general peritonitis, the pus being diffused and not walled in. The sixth stage is a cellulitis or inflammation of the tissues surrounding the pelvic organs. All of the pelvic organs are usually involved in the above conditions.
Symptoms.-There is pain in the lower abdomen which becomes worse as the woman moves about. In acute cases it is so severe that the bed is sought. There is tenderness upon pressure in one or both sides of the lower abdomen, or it may be general over the whole area. There is usually a rise of temperature and quickened pulse. The muscles of the abdominal region are tense. There is usually a leucorrhea. Pain in the back is a common symptom.
In many cases the woman will, with rest, quickly recover from an attack, but the symptoms re-turn at intervals, and as adhesions form there will be more or less discomfort in the lower abdomen. The general health also suffers to some extent. If proper treatment is instituted early, the disease may be controlled and the necessity for operation obviated. This is one of the most common causes of sterility.
Treatment.—If every woman could have the benefit of natural treatment when first attacked with pelvic disease, there would be fewer pelvic organs sacrificed upon the operating table.
Upon the first appearance of symptoms the patient should go to bed and, as in all other illness with fever, a fast of a few days is indicated. The bowels must be moved daily by means of a warm enema. This will also have a good effect upon the inflammation. The hot sitz is indicated unless it is impossible for the patient to be out of bed, in which case hot compresses may be applied over the lower abdomen. The thermo-light is also of value. A good plan is to apply the hot compresses, or the light, for a half-hour and then apply a cold pack to be left on until dry, when it should be renewed. If there is much restlessness, a warm bath, or a light massage, omitting the abdomenal and pelvic regions, will be found of benefit.
If the condition does not quickly subside and the temperature continues high, the possibility of an abscess should be kept in mind. Repeated fasts may be necessary, especially when the condition has become chronic. In the early stages while there is free drainage through the tubes, recovery should take place quickly. In many cases, even when abscesses have formed, absorption has occurred with full recovery. This is especially true in those cases which have adhered to the fast, or have taken a series of short fasts. After the fast care in diet must be exercised; in fact it will be found most beneficial to adhere strictly to the milk or buttermilk diet for a long while.
After getting up from bed the woman should be careful not to overwork. She should go to bed early, get up late and rest frequently during the day. After all signs of inflammation have disappeared, mild exercise is allowable. If adhesions have occurred, bending exercises and abdominal massage will be found valuable for stretching or breaking them up. Operations for adhesions are usually unnecessary unless there is intestinal obstruction. The adhesions will in most cases stretch and cause no more trouble.
This ailment comes under the heading of venereal diseases. An extraordinary advance has been made in its treatment recently by the medical profession. Seek the aid of a competent physician as early as possible when you have any reason to believe you have acquired the disease. Do not assume the serious risk of hampering with yourself in self-treatment. The following information is. presented for the benefit of physicians who are desirous of learning something of the drugless treatment and to assist those who are unable to secure the advice of a competent physician.
This terrible disease is perhaps next to tuberculosis the greatest scourge with which the human race has to contend.
The infecting agent is called the Treponema pallidum. It gains entrance through a minute abrasion, or break, in the surface of mucous membrane or skin. It is probably true that it can not gain entrance through an unbroken surface. As the organism is microscopic in size it will be evident that the site of entrance may also be microscopic, so that in the absence of visible abrasions one may think there is immunity, when such is not the case.
As to hereditary syphilis, recent studies and investigations have disproved many former ideas. That syphilis is transmitted to the off-spring through hereditary characteristics residing in the germ-cells of the individual, is no longer believed, it being known that the child acquires the disease by direct infection from the uterus or placenta. The idea also has been discarded that the apparently healthy mother is immune to infection by her syphilitic child, begot-ten of a syphilitic father. Also that a healthy child is immune to infection from a syphilitic mother.
The 'Wasserman test, while not absolutely ac-curate in all cases, is the best means of diagnosis we have, in the absence of clinical symptoms.
Symptoms.—The first sign of the disease appears about three weeks after exposure, as a small red pimple which increases in size to that of a ten- and often a five-cent piece. This ulcerates in the center. A hardened area appears around the ulcer; hence the name "hard chancre." When located in the vagina the ulcer may be very small and escape detection.
In about six weeks there may be moderate fever with headache, pains in the limbs and digestive disturbances. The throat becomes sore. The glands in the neck and above the elbow swell and in some cases there may be enlargement of the spleen. Eruptions appear on the skin. These may be reddened areas, raised pimples or pustules, or copper-colored spots. The so-called mucous patches appear at the angles of the mouth, on the tongue, pharynx, tonsils, vagina, anus, and even between the toes and fingers. The hair, eyebrows and eyelashes may fall out, and the finger-nails become brittle or grow irregularly. This stage of the disease lasts for two or three months and is followed by apparently good health. The second stage may be very mild and often is absent.
The third stage appears months or years afterward. At this time the gumma or syphilitic tumors appear. They may appear in any part of the body but especially in the skin, bones and nervous system. They may ulcerate, causing great destruction. In some cases the small bones of the face are entirely destroyed. Large ulcers may appear in the skin. The gumma is tender and painful to pressure. Fever in this stage is common. If pregnant, the woman may abort.
What is sometimes called the fourth stage of the disease appears as constitutional disturbances years afterward. The most common are diseases of the nervous system, as locomotor ataxia, paralysis and insanity.
Treatment.—The person who has contracted syphilis must make up his or her mind that for at least three to five years, life must be conducted according to a very definite and strict plan, if health is to be restored. All use of alcoholic thinks, tobacco, tea, coffee, highly seasoned foods, drugs and other poisonous substances must cease.
When the primary sore is first discovered it must not be cauterized, nor must any astringent remedy be applied. This prevents proper drainage and seals up the organisms in the ulcer. The best way is to apply something that will keep the ulcer open and running. Never mind if it does not heal quickly. The best local application is the cold, wet pack. This is made by dipping a piece of absorbent cotton in cold water, squeezing it out slightly and binding it onto the sore. These must be changed very frequently, and burned after removal. Clay packs may also be applied in the same manner. If the sore is in such position that it is impossible to bind on the packs, it may be irrigated at least every two hours for ten minutes with cold water, using a sterile enema point and douche can. The stream must be directed onto the sore and allowed to drain away freely. This is all the local treatment necessary.
The patient should take a fast as soon as possible. This should last for from seven to fourteen days, unless the individual is under weight, when a series of two- or three-day fasts may be taken instead. Follow with the milk or buttermilk diet. Outside of milk no other kind of animal food should be used during the whole course of treatment. If milk is not used exclusively, the diet should consist of fruit, nuts, cereals and vegetables, both raw and cooked. The bowels must be kept free by enemas or laxative foods. Water should be taken freely. Skin action must be promoted in every way. Three hot tub baths per week and frequent cold sponges will help. Fresh air, exercise and sunlight are of course important.
If there are secondary symptoms, the regime must be even more rigid. All of the measures mentioned above should be employed, and, in addition, the full cold-sheet pack should be used every other day and in severe cases daily. The patient should remain in the pack until free sweating is induced. If the patient has taken mercury the induction of sweating will be difficult, but the packs should be continued. If it is summer, sun baths will be extremely beneficial.
In the third stage, or in cases where mercury or salvarsan has been used, the disease must be treated as a chronic one. Many of these cases make very little improvement. They are really cases of chronic mercurial or arsenical poisoning, and the patient recovers to the extent that the organs of the body are intact. Periodic fasts followed by the milk diet must be taken over and over again.