Today is the 101st International Women’s Day, a day to celebrate women’s lives and achievements, and to fight for the many women who still lack basic rights to healthcare, education, representation and freedom from violence. The Best and Worst Places To Be A Woman is a reminder that we’re a long way away from that in many parts of the world – including some quite close to home.
We all owe a massive debt to the women who came before us and who successfully campaigned for, among other things:
- The right to vote (achieved for all adult women in the UK in 1928)
- Control over reproduction (the Pill came to the UK – for married women only – in 1961, and the Abortion Act making abortion legal in certain circumstances came into force in 1967)
- Equal rights at work ( The 1975 Equal Pay Act and The Sex Discrimination Act).
An Opportunity to Honour a True PMS Pioneer
In the world of PMS medicine, Dr Katharina Dalton (1916-2004) is a true heroine and trailblazer.
You could say she ‘discovered’ PMS by giving it a name, researching it and trying out different PMS treatments on herself and her patients.
She began her career as a chiropodist, but had always dreamed of being a doctor – still very much a male-dominated profession at the time.
She finally went to medical school after losing her first husband in the Second World War, and qualified on the same day in 1948 that the NHS was born.
As well as suffering from PMS herself (which she noticed disappeared during her pregnancy), she observed that there was a monthly pattern to the symptoms described by many of her female patients and recognised that this profoundly affected their lives. But at the time, the idea that hormones had such a profound effect was still dismissed as nonsense and she was a lone voice for many years. (There are still some today who say that PMS is psychosomatic, or ‘an excuse’).
She coined the term Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS), and in 1957, set up the first PMS clinic in the world, and ran it for the next forty years. She published extensively on PMS and appeared as an expert witness in criminal trials where PMS was used as a defence.
She was a founder member of the Royal College of General Practitioners and instrumental in founding The National Association for Premenstrual Syndrome (NAPS) in 1983. Many of the founder members of NAPS were personally treated by Dr Dalton, and as the first doctor to take PMS seriously, she was consulted by many women, including some famous ones, like Sylvia Plath.
Dr Dalton’s treatment for PMS focused on balancing blood sugar by eating regularly (at least every three hours), which is basic advice that still holds good today as part of a healthy eating plan to beat PMS. She also promoted keeping a symptom diary so that women could be better prepared for PMS episodes. She recommended supplementation with natural progesterone, the effectiveness of which is still hotly debated (definitely a topic for another post!).
We wouldn’t be where we are today in understanding and managing PMS without the foundations build by Dr Dalton. She was hugely influential in forcing the medical establishment to take PMS seriously and was a trailblazer in PMS research and treatment for women who suffer PMS.
We have an opportunity to say Thank You and make sure that she is remembered by future generations of women:
PLEASE Nominate Dr Dalton for The New Elizabethans
BBC Radio 4 are asking for nomination for 60 most inspirational people who have made a mark in the last sixty years. Let’s get this wonderful gutsy woman into the running. It only takes a minute to submit your nomination online. Entries close at 5pm on Friday 9 March.
Happy International Women’s Day!