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Medicalization of the menstrual cycle

Byers (2007) define menstrual cycle as a sequence of physiological changes that take place within fertile females in human society. Menstruation is natural and normal for female human beings just after they have reached the stage of puberty. Overt menstruation, in which blood flow from the uterine walls through the vagina, primarily occurs in human beings and other animals like the chimpanzees. The females of other species experience estrous cycle as there is occurrence of a complete endometrial re-absorption at the end of reproductive cycle, and this is referred to as covert menstruation. Women and healthy professionals ought to look at menstruation as a naturally occurring undesirable condition that is frequent (Byers, 2007). This means that, effective and safe means of medicalization should provided to those women who need it so as to do away with their menstrual cycles, and this contributes to happier and less burdened lives for women individually as well as the whole society (Fingerson, 2006).

It is very simple to do away with menstruation with inexpensive, save, and widely obtainable oral contraceptives tablets. Monthly menses continue being the standard among women. Women find menstruation to be painful both metaphorically and literally.  Menstruation irritates as it requires one to plan and look for expensive sanitary supplies as well as Tylenol which is used to do away with messy discomfort for a period of about one week every month. About half of the female population in human society experiences a far greater impact concerning menstruation. It makes women debilitated as well as constituting a large and significant unacknowledged cost to the society. It has been seen that, disorders due to menstruation are the most important cause of gynecological morbidity that is reported in the USA, and these outnumber the nearest competitor by a factor of three (O'-Grady-Kathleen, 2001). The US industry spends about 8 percent of its aggregate wage bill due to menstrual disorders and this happens mostly in those sectors that recruit predominantly women, for instance it was found that, in Texas, female workers' productivity reduces by 25 percent in the time of menstruation (Fingerson, 2006).  


Nearly all treatments for conditions brought about or aggravated by menstruation are symptomatic such that little or no attention is paid to the inherent cause, that is, the menstrual cycle as well as hormonal fluctuations. Females are expected to function normally, with least attention paid to the management of mental and physical pain and discomfort. In the modern medicine, this is usually seen as an anomaly. Monthly menses has been mythologized and socialized into being the unchallenged normal, natural, and women's beneficial state. It has been observed that the menstrual bleeding, accompanies the relief of many menstrual and premenstrual discomforts in women, and this resulted to the false decision in an age where inadequate therapeutic alternatives were available, that brought on bleeding usually must be healthful. In the previous centuries, the practice of inducing bleeding to alleviate discomfort has been seen as a harmful medical practice (Thomas & Ellertson, 2000).   

The historical outlook of bleeding being beneficial may explain why the discomforts and consequences associated with monthly bleeding have not until today afforded the same scrutiny and investment as conditions that are regarded unnatural. Ordinary oral contraceptives that have been extensively studied in enormous age groups of women over a long period of time have been found effective in alleviating the menstruation problems in women. If ordinary contraceptives are taken continuously there will be a regulation of hormonal fluctuation as well as elimination of bleeding with the exception of periodic breakthrough spotting. The use of oral contraceptives can safely let women take control over their hormonal profiles and when they decide to bleed. However, when bleeding is suppressed this way, there will be disruption and inconvenience of menstruation especially for healthy women who are competing in athletic competitions as bleeding will pose a severe sanitary problem to them. It is unfortunate that for most women, suppressing there periods continuously remains one of the best-kept secrets of medicine (Collective, 2005). 

Menopause and peri-menopause

Simpson & Bredesen (2006) defines menopause as the permanent cessation of menstruation attributed to ovarian failure.  Menstruation is the shedding of blood during the monthly period as experienced by women. Peri-menopause is the period that is three to five years before menopause and which is brought about as a woman's levels of estrogen start to drop. In a woman's life, menopause marks the time when her monthly periods stops and this is the time when a woman starts to be no longer fertile, that is, she cannot be pregnant. Menopause is normal and it is neither a condition nor a disease (Simpson & Bredesen, 2006). It has been found that the average age for women to reach menopause within different countries varies, for instance the average age for menopause in UK is 52 years, in USA is 51 years, and in India is before the age of 41.  The time when menopause occurs also depends on an individual as symptoms in some women start earlier while in others it can start years or months afterwards. An intervention to menopause that is referred to as Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) is going to be discussed in terms of its advantages and disadvantages (Blackwell, 2003).   

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Hormone Replacement Therapy is defined as a treatment that is meant to ease menopause symptoms as well as protect against health risks that are related to menopause for women who have passed or reached menopause, and this is frequently known as the change of life. This involves taking female hormones, progesterone and estrogen usually in small doses. Progesterone and estrogen are naturally produced by ovaries until menopause is reached, when their production declines gradually and stops eventually. These two hormones are very important and necessary for good functioning of the reproductive system of a woman. Recently, there has been great concern about if HRT can bring about other risks to health. Even if a great number of women take HRT,   it doesn't mean that taking HRT is everyone's right choice. Professionals in the field of health care advise women to collect enough information and take into consideration the benefits and risks of taking HRT (Lewis, 1993).  

It is true that not every woman undergoes the disturbing symptoms of menopause. For those women who experience symptoms of menopause, the Hormone Replacement Therapy has been found to ease the symptoms such as hot flashes, vaginal dryness, insomnia, depression, inconsistence, and sleep disturbances. Estrogen is very significant in women body as it reduces the risk of heart disease but with menopause this hormone decreases such that women become vulnerable to heart disease, breast cancer, and stroke. In this case HRT helps to reduce the risk of heart disease, breast cancer, and stroke. The Hormone Replacement Therapy is also very important as it protects women against osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is a disease that affects bones leaving them weak. Studies have shown that women, who take HRT after menopause, undergo fewer bone fractures as compared to those who do not and this is because of the constituent hormone called estrogen. It has been found that Hormone Replacement is more harmful than it is beneficial (Blackwell, 2003).

Study by the Women's Health Initiative has shown that HRT actually increases the risk of the already mentioned diseases. The discoveries due to study have encouraged most people to perceive HRT as a harmful practice. It has been seen that prolonged use of estrogen and estrogen/progesterone therapies increases risks in women. Estrogen stimulates cell division and therefore increasing the risk of development of breast cancer by 9 percent. HRT increases the risk of heart disease by up to 24 percent. When HRT is taken by a woman to reduce the risk of Alzheimer's disease, actually the risk has been seen to increase by a small percentage. Nowadays, it is recommended that these hormones should not be taken to safeguard against these disease. So that to prevent the increased risk of certain diseases the use of HRT should not be used for a period exceeding five years (Simpson & Bredesen, 2006).                 

Bourguignon, Briscoe & Nemzer (1999) define abortion as the termination of one's pregnancy by the expulsion or removal of embryo or fetus from the uterus, leading to its death. In some cases abortion may occur spontaneously because of complications in the course of pregnancy or it can be induced. In human society, an abortion that is induced to maintain the pregnant female's health is referred to as a therapeutic abortion, but if abortion is induced for any other reason, it is known as elective abortion. Abortion as can be seen is a term that refers to the induced abortion in human context, while spontaneous abortions are referred to as miscarriages (Dimond-Gaber, 1998). Abortion has got a long history as far as the various methods that are employed to induce it, such as physical trauma, use of sharpened tools, and herbal abortion-inducing drug. Nowadays, medicine utilizes surgical procedures and medications to induce abortion. The prevalence, legality, religious, and cultural perspectives on abortion vary considerably around the world. Within many parts worldwide, there is divisive and prominent public controversy concerning legal and ethical issues of abortion. In many nations abortion and the related issues feature significantly, frequently involving the pro-life and pro-choice social movements in the world (Rudy, 1996).

Political issues concerning abortion, deals with whether a government should take control over women's bodies and permit or not permit them to get an abortion. The significant question at hand is whether or not women should be allowed to make decisions regarding having an abortion. The pro-choice Advocates that support are the ones who prefer to reproduce abort, or adopt. Pro-Life Advocates consider that abortion should not be legal under any circumstance (Rudy, 1996). Some decades ago, many women died because they attempted to have abortion by using unsafe methods. In 1973, Roe vs. Wade canceled state laws forbidding abortion and due to this decision thousands of women obtained abortion. Abortion is a controversial debate due to moral, legal, and political issues that come about from the pro-choice and pro-life (Fowler & Trouton, 2000).  

As religious positions concerning abortion are talked about, abortion is seen condemned and taken as murder. Most of the conservative Muslim theologians excoriate abortion, but in the Islamic tradition, there is ample room for permitting it. Muslim teachings do allow for abortion and this is limited only to the early stages during pregnancy and provided that there is a good reason for doing it since frivolous reasons are not permitted. Abortions may be legalized later only if it can be seen as the lesser evil such that if abortion is not done then a worse situation will result. Buddhist belief in rebirth and therefore leads to the conception that, life starts at the time of conception. Due to this Buddhism is naturally inclined against permitting abortion. Ending the life of any given living thing is usually condemned in Buddhism and by so it is clear that killing an embryo or fetus would not be accepted. However, abortion to save the life of the mother and if it is not done for hateful and selfish reasons is allowed (Bourguignon, Briscoe & Nemzer, 1999).                    

Technology has made abortion safer and easier such that many women have been encouraged to do abortion. Mortality rate has dropped from 4.1 per 100,000 people to 0.6 per 10,000 people and therefore women become confident that they can do abortion successful to avoid the kinds of stress that they could undergo including taking care for the baby who was not planned for. Though expensive, surgical abortion and abortion pills are effective and safe, and are the mostly used methods of abortion. In many societies abortion is seen unethical such that if a woman has done abortion, she become stigmatized and does not socialize well with other people (Dimond-Gaber, 1998).

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