The Society for Menstrual Cycle Research Meets 5-7 June in Chicago

The Center for Research on Women and Gender at the University of Illinois at Chicago hosts the 12th conference of The Society for Menstrual Cycle Research next month, celebrating 20 years of the organization. The theme is "Looking Forward, Looking Back: The Place of Women's Everyday Live's in Health Research."

Some of the many presentations are Hormones and Behavior, The Medicalization of Menopause, Modeling Menstrual Cycle Changes, The Female Body in Popular Culture, and three of the many speakers are MUM Board of Directors member Barbara Czerwinski (you've read about her in previous News sections several times), Martha McClintlock and Susan Love.

Harry Finley (that's me) will give a brilliant promotion of your MUM, the Museum of Menstruation. My tap-dancing lessons haven't started yet with MUM Board of Directors member Miki Walsh, so onlookers will have to settle for a sizzling pitch for my bèbè, The Museum.

It costs $200 for non-members of SMCR to attend the full session, and there are accommodations available.

Click here for details!

Have Feminine Hygiene Fun in New York!

Susannah Perlman, who wrote and is writing and performing in a series of comedy sketches about tampons and other things dear to women, visited MUM last week for catamenial facts. She brought a "How's it going?" from her friend Beth Littleford, who interviewed the director of MUM for a funny and well-done broadcast on TV's Comedy Central last December.

If you are in New York, see Susannah's Fried Eggs show at nine p.m. every Sunday at Velvet, 167 Avenue A (10th-11th) for eight bucks, which includes one cold beverage, OR on Friday, May 20 and Saturday, May 31 at Surf Reality at eight p.m. That's at 172 Allen (two blocks below Houston). She says the $10 admission includes sheer entertainment! The phone number at Surf Reality is (212) 673-4182, and Susannah's own phone number is (212) 475-1284.

Oops! Read More About the fax Contest

Another visitor - as a matter of fact, the brother of Susannah Perlman in the item above, who accompanied her and brought his wife and eighteen-month-old son Josh to MUM - pointed out that in the undated promotional literature for the tampon fax here at MUM, we read the following:

Twenty million women have been buying external napkins for fifteen years or more. During the past two years or more 2% of these women have purchased, used and adopted the internal napkin and notwithstanding the fact that little or nothing has been done effectively to merchandise this type of item the number of users is increasing rapidly.

If I interpret this right, "external napkins" in the first sentence means "disposable napkins," since women have been using napkins probably for thousands of years. The first widely successful disposable was Kotex, introduced in 1920, but extensively advertised from 1921. So we can estimate the year of this promotional sheet as around 1935. Two years before that is 1933, "or more" making it maybe 1932. If all this is true, fax would be the earliest tampon that I know of, since the earliest Sears catalog advertisement for Wix that I have is 1934; Tampax appeared in 1936. The last sentence in the quote seems to lessen the chances of finding a fax ad before 1935 (or so).

Start flipping those newspaper pages, folks!

Oh, by the way, baby Josh is the youngest person to have visited MUM!

The Japanese Ponied Up on Tampons

Kelly Coyne of the Red Spot menstruation Web site (I mentioned it two weeks ago) e-mailed an answer to a question I had posed last year: What is the Japanese pony tampon? She said it was an example of origami, the Japanese art of paper folding, and a very old practice. Does pony refer to the form (!) of the tampon, to the fact that a woman sort of sits on a tampon (but then she does that even more with a pad), or to a story associated with menstruation, or what? Kelly says she'll tell us more when she finds out.

Be Skeptical About Health Risks

I am a health news junkie, I admit, just like millions of other Americans; you may be too. But Dr. Marcia Angell, the executive editor of The New England Journal of Medicine, wrote in the The New York Times Magazine recently that we should all RELAX!

In Overdosing on Health Risks she points out that

Even though breast cancer is the most common cause of cancer death in women in their 40's, the disease still affects fewer than 2 percent of women in this age group. After age 50, the death rate from breast cancer rises rapidly, but over a woman's lifespan, it lags behind lung-cancer deaths and never comes close to the death rate from heart disease. Heart attacks kill about six times as many women as breast cancer [color added]. Still, many women fear breast cancer far more. Because of this fear, the risk seems much larger than it is.

She says too that the public expects each report of health research to be the last word, but that this news is mostly meant for other researchers, who seldom regard it as definitive. The public feels jerked around by the scientific community, and finally thinks that scientists don't know what they're talking about.

Read the whole two-page article; it cleared up my mental sinuses.

Generic Premarin Not Approved

A cheaper form of the most widely prescribed drug in America, the estrogen replacement drug Premarin, won't be available for now, because the Food and Drug administration found the generic form not to be identical to the original product.

Placental Defect Found in Preeclampsia

In the recent Journal of Clinical Investigation, researchers from the University at San Francisco report that the failure of the placenta to correctly attach to the wall of the uterus causes the fetus to not receive enough blood, giving rise to the condition known as preeclampsia. Symptoms include high blood pressure and protein in the urine, both indicating kidney damage. Untreated, it can lead to eclampsia, characterized by convulsions, kidney failure and death.

Babies born to mothers having the condition frequently are small and may have birth defects associated with insufficient nutrients, caused by the restriction of the blood to the fetus.

Neither aspirin nor calcium supplements, previously thought to prevent the condition, are effective.

Preeclampsia seems to mostly affect women having their first pregnancies, especially those over 35 or under 20.

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