A remarkable increase in the number and frequency of that large class of maladies known as diseases peculiar to women, has attracted the attention of many observing physicians. The fact has received many different explanations. One author attributes the difficulty to faulty methods of education, particularly the attempt of young women to compete with their brothers in the study of the classics and the higher mathematics. Another, adducing the fact that American women seem to suffer more than those of any other nation, finds an explanation in the asserted fact "that all animals tend to deteriorate in this country." No reason is offered why America should not be as healthy a country as any other upon the globe, but attention is called to the fact that numerous classes of people have occupied the territory in succession, from which it is argued that no race can long continue an existence here without degeneration; thus placing the responsibility wholly upon nature and removing it from the shoulders of those who, according to our view, are only suffering the consequences of their own transgression of nature's laws, combined with inherited weaknesses and morbid tendencies.

We have become satisfied from the somewhat extended opportunities of observation which we have enjoyed, that the cause of the increased frequency of diseases peculiar to the female sex are more directly attributable to bad habits of dress, diet, and unnatural and injurious personal and social habits of various sorts, than to any other causes. We cannot conceive it to be possible for a woman to dress in accordance with the requirements of fashion for any length of time, without becoming seriously diseased in the functions peculiar to her sex.

The process of perversion which finally results in serious diseases begins at a very early period. In the words of the eminent Prof Emmett, who stands foremost in the ranks of specialists in the treatment of this class of diseases, at the very dawn of womanhood the young girl begins to live an artificial life, utterly inconsistent with the normal development. The girl of the period is made a woman before her time by associating too much with her elders, and in diet, dress, habits, and tastes, she becomes at an early age but a reflection of her elder sisters. She may have acquired every accomplishment, and yet will have been kept in ignorance of the simplest feature of her organization, and of the requirements for the preservation of her health. Her bloom is often as transient as that of the hot-house plant, where the flower has been forced by cultivation to an excess of development, by stunting the growth of its branches, and limiting the spread of its roots. A girl is scarcely in her teens before custom requires a change in her dress. Her shoulder-straps and buttons are given up for a number of strings about her waist, and the additional weight of an increased length of skirt is added. She is unable to take the proper kind or necessary amount of exercise even if she were not taught that it would be unladylike to make the attempt. Her waist is drawn into a shape little adapted to accommodate the organs placed there, and as the abdominal and spinal muscles are seldom brought into play, they become atrophied. The viscera are thus compressed and displaced, and as the full play of the abdominal wall and the descent of the diaphragm are interfered with, the venous blood is hindered in its return to the heart."

Although mothers have been repeatedly warned of the danger of thus allowing their daughters to sap the very foundation of their life in early womanhood, it is rare indeed that a mother can be found who has the moral courage to stand up against the tide of public opinion and bravely refuse to bow to the mandates of fashion. Health, happiness, usefulness, comfort, are all sacrificed upon the throne of the fickle goddess to whom so many thousands pay an onerous but willing homage. So long as this strangely inconsistent course is persisted in, woman will continue to be the chief supporter of the medical fraternity, whose skill and ingenuity are taxed to the utmost in devising means for the relief of her multitudinous and painful ills; at least three-fourths of which might be easily avoided by better attention to the laws which govern her sexual nature.

Among other general causes of disease in woman may be mentioned novel reading, an evil habit indulged in by a very large proportion of the young ladies of the present day, and the result of which is the development of a weak sentimentalism, and the production of nervousness, hysteria, and a long list of maladies which depend largely upon morbid mental states.

Another very frequent cause which should be mentioned in this connection, is carelessness at the menstrual period. Few women, at least in early life, exercise that care at this time that is absolutely necessary to avoid incurring danger of producing serious disease. Young women attend parties, concerts, balls, and various entertainments in all sorts of weather, and without proper attention to protection by suitable clothing, irrespective of the menstrual function, the consequence of which is the contraction of colds at this susceptible period, and the establishment of various irregularities which lay the foundation for serious diseases in future years. There is no doubt but that a large share of the chronic diseases from which women suffer the most, have their first beginnings in exposure at the beginning of sexual activity. The greatest care should be exercised at the time of the establishment of the menstrual flow on this account. At least twenty-four hours' rest should be taken before the time for the period to begin. The most of the time during the period should be spent in bed. No violent physical or mental exertion should be indulged in at this time. Women of barbarous nations, and robust young women who have from early childhood been accustomed to active muscular labor, perhaps do not require to observe quite so great precaution; but the average girl of the present day needs just this sort of care. Mothers are generally very remiss in their duty in not watching carefully over their daughters at this period, giving them proper instruction and restraining them from taking such a course as must result in positive and often life-long injury.

Another active cause in the production of local diseases in women is habitual neglect of the bowels. The great majority of women, young, old, and middle-aged, suffer with constipation of the bowels. In a majority of cases this is largely the result of neglect to attend promptly to the calls of nature. By degrees, the bowels lose their natural sensibility, and become torpid and inactive; the immediate result of this is congestion of all the organs of the pelvis, the uterus and ovaries with the rest, and sooner or later the symptoms of disease of these organs, make their appearance.

Lastly, we must mention sexual abuses of various sorts as among the most positive sources of serious local disease in females as well as in the opposite sex. Probably this cause, especially secret vice among young women, does not prevail to such a universal extent as it does among boys and young men; but evidences are too convincing to be ignored that cases are by no means rare in which this is an active cause. Among married women, sexual excesses, for which they are not wholly or often chiefly responsible, give rise to a very large share of the maladies from which they suffer. This subject has been quite fully treated under the head of sexual physiology and hygiene.

In concluding these introductory remarks, we would earnestly invite the reader's special attention to the paramount importance of attending seriously and promptly to the first evidences of the maladies to which this section is devoted. Nearly all this class of diseases, although very chronic and obstinate when thoroughly developed, are readily controlled by proper and efficient treatment at the outset. False modesty often restrains the sufferer from making known her condition to a competent medical adviser until it has existed so long that a cure can only be accomplished by long-continued and persevering efforts. When apprized of this fact, the unfortunate individual often gives up in discouragement. In far too many instances when this is not the case, the patient has the misfortune to fall into the hands of some physician who blindly follows obsolete or routine methods of treatment, perhaps doing the best he knows how, but notwithstanding, in no way benefiting the patient even after years of treatment. In scores of instances, patients of this kind have come to us in utter despair, having lost all faith in all methods of treatment, and given up all hope of recovering health. The treatment of this class of disease, or "female weaknesses," as they are termed by the advertising charlatan, is one of the most lucrative sources of revenue to quacks of every description. Not hesitating to promise the most marvelous results within a short space of time, they excite the hopes of their victims only to leave them deeper than ever in the slough of despond. A person who has been thus imposed upon a few times, is generally in about as wretched a condition, both physically and mentally, as an individual can well be. It is partly for the purpose of rendering sufferers from this class of diseases sufficiently intelligent upon the subject of their ailments to enable them to discriminate between the competent and reliable physician and the ignorant pretender, that this section is written. Another object in its preparation which we may mention in conclusion, is to inspire those of this large class of sufferers into whose hands this work may fall with hope and courage, by the assurance that there arc rational and successful methods of treatment which will reach almost every case, no matter how chronic or how apparently hopeless it may be, provided they arc skillfully adapted to each particular case and faithfully administered.