So much has been written of the anatomical and physiological characteristics of the wonderful pro visions for maternity, that I shall refer to that part of the subject only as it seems necessary to give clearer understanding of the material and moral obligations it indicates and permits. The ovaries, or egg makers, are small, flattened, ovoid, grayish-white glands about the size of an almond, and somewhat similar in shape. They are fastened to the uterus by white fibrous elastic ligaments, about one sixth inch in diameter, and two inches long. The uterus, which subserves the same purpose for the human embryo as the nest for birds, — a place where, with sheltering care, the embryonic structures may be safely and perfectly developed, —lies midway between them. At each upper corner of the uterine cavity the fallopian tube enters, which tube is from four to five inches long and opens at the ovary by a trumpet like expansion, fringed by some twenty to thirty finger-like terminations, one broad one being fastened to it, leaving the hand-like cup to lie over the organ, and move freely upon the smooth, moist, serous sur face of the ovary. The opening in the centre of the half hand and half funnel-like expansion is slightly larger than at the point where it enters the uterus, where it is so small a bristle would not enter easily, and the finest knitting-needle would greatly stretch it. The germinal cell or egg is so minute that it can only be seen distinctly by a microscope. Its appearance is like that of a minute soap bubble, yet it has all the elements of embryonic development as perfect as in the egg of the common fowl.
The size of the eggs of all birds is due to the fact that the materials for the structure of the perfectly developed chick are stored with the life principle in its shell. From one to five of these ovules, or little eggs, are set free from the ovary at one time, and some may be lost in the abdominal cavity and absorbed. If they do not accidentally miss com munication they are carried down the fallopian tube to the uterine cavity, where they remain from fourteen to twenty-one days, when they are lost.
The minute egg is forced onward to the uterus by a vital movement similar to that which pushes the food downward in swallowing.
Mental shock or unnatural excitation may reverse the movement and lead to serious consequences. This process of ovulation (la poste, as the French physiologists term it) occurs once iu twenty-eight days, and is attended by a sanious discharge for three to five days. In health this loss is slight, a few ounces only during the entire period. The ovules are set free any time from one to two days before the appearance of this bleeding, and during the time of its continuance. There are little scars left, marking the vesicles or cells where they were formed, and they do not always show the same stage of advance in healing, hence the conclusion that they do not matur6 exactly at the same time, but within an interval of a few days. The loss of blood at the menses is from the congestion which is a result of ovulation, the perfect process being accomplished through the vital action of redundant forces. Dur ing the development of the germ cells the abdominal and pelvic as well as the uterine and ovarian blood vessels, become filled with blood, and in this over /Med condition of the organs, the bleeding occurs from minute vessels opening through the mucous lining of the uterus, much as bleeding would occur from the nose and relieve general congestion about the head. In this way permanent congestion from ovulation is prevented, the blood lost being as good as any in the body, and if it seems otherwise it is from some diseased condition.
In the perfectly healthy girl or woman there is no serious mental or physical disturbance at this time, but there is a somewhat less settled condition of the nervous system, a sense of malaise, weariness, fulness, or dragging, about the loins and lower portions of the abdomen, during the first few hours, perhaps showing itself slightly for twenty-four hours. The usual activities are not materially interfered with, a moderate amount of exercise being favorable to healthful menstruation.