Medical solutions to these female conditions can be considerable and valuable. But seldom are they, on their own, totally satisfactory. One reason for this only partial medical solution resides in a more or less intrinsically female method of dealing with many such problems. In our culture it is far more acceptable for women to obtain a secondary gain through illness than it is for men. Thus ‘being ill’ often produces for the female psyche increased sympathy and attention, which can be manna indeed for the dependent or immature personality. This would not matter if it were not the case that such an innate state of affairs tends to lead to further disturbance of the emotional equilibrium and thus compounds the basic problem.
A judicious use of the relaxation response can help enormously in the problems of anxiety by interrupting the chain of events that aggravates female problems at the very centre of automatic (autonomic) activity. In the same way as the combination of pendulum-type breathing and muscular relaxation influences other autonomic functions such as the blood pressure and the heart rate, they can also alter the central discharge of nervous impulses to the master glands of femininity, the pituitary, the adrenal glands and the ovaries. These in turn then function properly; malfunction of these glands is a major factor in the development of female complaints at all ages.
The relaxation response has been proved of value in the management of disorders of menstruation, fertility problems, the emotional and physical problems of adolescence, and the menopause. It also helps with a wide variety of sexual problems. Always in such cases accurate medical diagnosis is a prerequisite of treatment and management.