Human Fertility and Population Problems: Proceedings of the Seminar Sponsored by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences

By Roy O. Greep; American Ethnological Society et al. | Go to book overview

DISCUSSION

Dr. Engel declared the meeting open for discussion.

DR. TIETZE: To start on a light note, I want to refer to Dr. Parkes' last remarks dealing with the synchronization of estrus in mice. This fact has also been accomplished in the human species by John C. Cobb and his associates in a village near Lahore, Pakistan. The intention was lo find out whether the regular taking of oral contraceptives could be tied to the phases of the moon. A number of women have been adjusted to an artificial menstrual cycle, all starting their medication on the same day and most of them menstruating within a day or two of each other. The sociological consequences of this arrangement have not yet been explored. The local people are used to counting time from the new moon, according to the tradition of the Muslim calendar.

DR. PARKES: If I remember rightly the idea behind this was that many of these women could not count adequately, and if they could be synchronized with the moon they wouldn't have to.

DR. TIETZE: That is correct.

DR. PINCUS: May I ask Dr. Parkes to comment on the period of sterility which is known to occur during the period of lactation. This seems to me to have many implications in the sense that the factors causing sterility during lactation may be very pertinent to the control of reproduction. In fact it is well known that in many human societies this is considered as a legitimate and normal method for corn trolling reproduction,

DR. PARKES: This is really a bit outside my subject but I think Dr. Tietze probably can answer your question much better than I can, and I hope he will. As I understand the matter, after parturition the ovary gradually resumes activity. The endometrium goes into a gradually increasing proliferative phase and then the next thing that happens is menstruation at the end of an anovular cycle and then after perhaps two anovular cycles ovulation again starts and the fertility is restored. But the time sequels of those events varies

-36-

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