Is menopause a medical condition that needs to be cured? That was certainly the message conveyed in a series of ads from Parke, Davis & Co. published in mainstream publications from the late 1930s through the 1940s. Just a bit of online research showed that the firm was a pioneer in offering estrogen injections in the US. The ads were designed to send women to their doctors to look for relief.
Hormonal therapy for menopause is still a controversial topic. Today, though, the subject is focused around women’s comfort versus the potential dangers of drug therapy. In these ads it is entirely centered around fear. There is no hint of what the treatment entailed.
What did women have to be afraid of? In the 1938 ad above, the earliest I found, the ad copy states: “The change of life is a difficult period for any woman. The changes taking place within her are often bewildering and alarming. She is likely to feel that her charm is gone and the best stages of her womanhood are past.” The solution—head to the doctor. “Your doctor can materially alleviate physical distress; can give comfort to the body and peace to the mind throughout the entire period of transition and adjustment.” There is nothing to indicate hormones or injections, just the logo for Parke, Davis & Co. at the bottom.
The ads imply that these unnamed measures would solve problems of depression.
They would also keep a woman from alienating not only her husband but also her children. The little boy in the picture above does not look happy.
Maybe the best news from these alarmist advertisements is that the oldest woman, the gray haired one in the 1945 ad at top, looks the happiest. Was that because of the drugs? Or was it the dog?