Why Do Women Menstruate?

What seems a silly question to most of the world is serious business to you and me, and John Travis of Science News, a weekly magazine published in Washington, D.C., provided some answers in the 12 April issue.

As discussed earlier, Mr. Travis visited MUM in his research, but the possible answers came from MacArthur Fellow Margie Profet; Beverly I. Strassmann, an anthropologist at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor; Kim Hill of the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque; Peter T. Ellison at Harvard University; and Colin A. Finn of the University of Liverpool Veterinary Field Station in Neston, England.

Basically, the scientific community, including the above scholars, has discredited the theory of Margie Profet, who maintained in a paper in the September 1993 Quarterly Review of Biology that menstruation functions partly as a way to rid the uterus of harmful microbes brought in by sperm from the vagina (see also the news item below). Even an editor of the Review, who initially supported Profet's theory, now agrees with one of her strongest critics, Professor Strassmann, who published her criticism in the same publication.

Read the whole well-written article! Order the article, or browse the Science News Web site.

Vaginal Infections Can Cause Premature Births

Pregnant women who regularly check the acidity of their vaginas can drastically lower the possibility of having a premature child.

The Berlin physician Erich Saling, called by the German Frankfurter Allgemeine newspaper the pioneer of perinatal medicine in an article from the 26 March edition (Natur und Wissenschaft section), conducted a study showing that women who test and control their vaginal acidity with lactic acid have less than half the premature rate of the general population. The newspaper reports that vaginal infections reaching the interior of the uterus cause 70% to 80% of all premature births.

Harmful bacteria tend to grow well in alkaline environments, and a woman supplied with test strips supplied by her doctor, which Dr. Saling is issuing to interested women in Germany, can immediately test for and counter bacterial growth, with lactic acid, even between appointments with her physician.

Premature children often suffer from life-long handicaps, including mental retardation.

It's interesting to keep in mind that the theory of Margie Profet (see the news item directly above) also concerns the combatting of uterine infections. Menstrual blood makes the vagina much more alkaline, allowing bacteria to grow more easily.

By the way, I've read recently that there are hundreds of unidentified types of bacteria in the vagina - something to think about.

The Last Gasp on Grot

Last week I printed two readers' answers to my question as to what the word grot means, which appeared in a letter to me from an Australian woman under twenty years of age, which indicated to me that it might be slang.

Well, the author of the letter herself straightened me out this past week; actually she agrees with the other writers. In her words,

"grot".. does mean yucky... grotesque... disgusting... grotty... it's just a type of slang

NEXT EARLIER NEWS | First Page | Newest News | FAQs | Directory | Index to News
© 1997 Harry Finley. It is illegal to reproduce or distribute work on this Web site in any manner or medium without written permission of the author. Please report suspected violations to hfinley@mum.org