Basic personality type
It is hardly necessary to state that women, like men, have certain inborn characteristics with reference to their psyche. Women may be emotionally mature or immature, dependent or independent. Each of these four intrinsic factors has to react with general stress situations, the most common of which are sibling rivalry, social, economic and occupational pressures, marital or emotional hazards and, of course, the competitive pressures common to the existence of both sexes. The result of such reactions produces, as it does in men, various degrees of unresolved conflict and naturally related anxiety.
Anxiety in both sexes produces changes in the body’s automatic (autonomic) nervous system. These can be common to both sexes (for example bladder irritability, stomach and bowel upsets) or sex specific. In both sexes the anxiety and stress-disturbed function of the autonomic centre in the brain brings about local effects in the body (characterized in women by changes in blood supply to the pelvic organs); general effects in women are brought about by a disturbance of the function of the pituitary gland, and the adrenal glands on the ovaries.
Another way of saying this is to state that there is an increased potential in women – because of their intrinsic femininity – to be subject to stress. And this stress operates in women in a rather more diffuse way than it does in men. Episodes of ill health in women are associated very much with their femaleness.
The following all produce their own tension load:
1. The general emotional upheaval of the menarche and the menopause.
2. Pregnancy-related unhappiness (too many, too few).
3. Menstrual disturbances (painful, irregular, heavy periods).
4. Premenstrual tension.
5. Sexual problems.