Personal Hygiene for Women. Part 1 (US Navy, 1943)


[This tape was transferred from a 16mm film
original by Colorlab for the National Library of Medicine, June 2006, NLM call number HF
1680 parts 1, 2, and 3.] [Restricted film to be shown to authorized
personnel only.] [United States Navy training film.] [Produced under the supervision of the Bureau
of Aeronautics for the Bureau of Medicine and Surgery by Audio Productions, Inc.] [Personal hygiene for women, Part 1.] Raise your right hands and repeat after me. I, I, do solemnly swear, do solemnly swear,
that I will bear true faith and allegiance, that I will bear true faith and allegiance. That all statements made by me, that all statements
made by me, that is now given in this record, that is now given in this record, are correct,
are correct. You are now in the Navy. To this post of duty you have come from every
walk of life. You have left important jobs, and you have
given up other opportunities. In your previous experience you represent
the best examples of American womanhood. Physically fit, resourceful, alert, intelligent
and morally dependable. You are the American woman. Because you want to live in the forefront
of your times, in ideals and in sacrifice, you have elected this as your chance to serve. And you’ve chosen a woman-sized job. The purpose of your basic training is not
to lessen your individuality, nor to change the particular character of your talents. It is, rather, to provide you with self confidence
and habits of living that will raise your talents to the highest peak of efficiency. You, the modern woman, are well equipped to
set a high standard of voluntary performance. You have a background of resourcefulness and
stamina derived from the democratic culture of your age. You have the skills which can be adapted to
your new responsibilities. Now you will need to raise your standards
of physical health to perfection. And to keep yourself in the best possible
condition to perform any duty you may be given. You will need to keep an eye open for any
sign that your efficiency is low, and to seek medical advice whenever you suspect that you
might not be quite all on the job. I find nothing wrong physically, but I do
think you’re suffering from fatigue. Been working hard? Well yes sir, you see I wanted … I know,
we all have a big job to do. But you worked hard during your basic training
too, didn’t you? You may have felt tired but you weren’t rundown,
that’s because you followed the regular routine. You had a good diet which included plenty
of energy-giving foods, and lots of fresh vegetables and milk to supply all the proteins
and vitamins you need. You got regular hours of sleep, and plenty
of exercise, didn’t you? I had to – regulations, you know. Yes, but the purpose of those regulations
was to set up habits that would keep you in top notch physical condition all the time. If you break those habits, you’re going to
fall down on the job. Now I’m going to give you a prescription. And this is the prescription the medical officer
gave her: [EFFICIENCY] a balanced diet, a normal regular amount of sleep, daily exercise
and relaxation. These are all regular needs which can never
be made up if they are lost. To maintain top notch working efficiency,
the right balance must be kept. Neglecting any one of these props to efficiency
is a sure way to physical and mental fatigue. Fatigue and faulty posture go hand and hand.
Let’s see why. Here in simple diagram is the body skeleton
and some of the muscles which hold it erect. Correct posture is correct because it is natural,
easy, and involves no strain on the muscles. A plum line dropped from the ear should pass
through the shoulder, hip, knee, and ankle joints. In incorrect posture, the muscles are under
strain and have to work much harder to hold the body erect. A line through the same joints is no longer
straight. Your internal organs are fitted into close
but adequate space. Incorrect posture forces them into unnatural
positions so that it is hard for them to do their work. You will feel better, and look better too,
if you watch your posture. Check it often and remember to stand tall,
walk tall, be conscious of it, it will be natural in a short time. Sit tall, you’ll feel and work better. You are proud of the fact that you are healthier
and stronger than the women of twenty five years ago, and your clothes are styled for
action. Your uniform is more practical than the ones
the Yeomanettes had in the last war. You can be glad of that, and you can be glad
that you don’t have to wear this armor plate. Pouring the body into this unnatural shape
congests the internal organs and makes it difficult to even to stand naturally. We know today that girdles and corsets are
supposed to support and protect the figure. Many women don’t really need them. But if you do wear a girdle it must be right
for you. You should not tolerate a girdle that fits
improperly any more than you would wear old fashioned clothing. Too much tightness or downward pressure of
weight constricts the abdominal organs and interferes with their normal activity. If a brassiere is required it should not compress
the breasts or push them downward. For those who really need them, well fitting
girdles and brassieres will support the figure and relieve fatigue. The correctly fitted girdle lifts the abdomen
and helps to flatten the back. Another special reason for fatigue is a poorly
fitted shoe. Nature has provided you with cleverly constructed
flexible arches formed by the bones and joints which constitute the framework of the human
foot. Every time the foot is brought down, this
framework absorbs the shock of contact with the ground and supports your weight. But an incorrectly fitted shoe will nullify
all nature’s good intentions. A shoe which is too small compresses the foot
and prevents natural action. It will in time deform the foot. If shoes are fitted properly, the inside edge
will be straight. There will be about half the breadth of the
thumb between the tip of the great toe and the end of the shoe, and plenty of width. The shoe should not be so wide that the arches
spread or that rubbing causes blisters. The ball of the foot should rest upon the
seat which is the widest part of the shoe. The leather of which your shoe is made should
be soft and pliable, yet the shoe itself should be reasonably heavy and should have a welt
sole to give the foot protection. A shoe with a lining and a strong shank is
the most comfortable for drill. Selecting a shoe which is not functional is
hardly less than bad taste. But you can rely on the smartness of an oxford
like this for ordinary wear. It supports the foot, and has heels which
are appropriate to any activity except long marches, hiking, or extensive field duty. For these purposes you need a shoe which has
a lower heel with a broader base. Badly fitting stockings can cause almost as
much discomfort as badly fitting shoes. They ought to be about a half inch longer
than the foot to prevent binding. And a badly mended stocking like this will
soon produce a blister. Stockings should be mended carefully with
a soft mending thread so that they will not cause blisters. This expert method of weaving and interweaving
will give you a flat even surface which will not irritate the skin. Since your feet support your body all day
long they deserve special attention. Here is a simple exercise to strengthen them
if they are weak. Flex the toes as if you are picking up a marble,
then in the same motion turn the toes upward as if to show the marble to someone. This is an easy exercise which should be repeated
often. If your feet are tender and tired from unaccustomed
marching, toughen them up by soaking them in cold water to which salt has been added. Be careful to dry thoroughly between the toes. Powder is helpful, and it should be used in
the morning as well as after bathing. You are less likely to get athlete’s foot
if the skin is dry. Athlete’s foot is an annoying and uncomfortable
disease. It appears first as patches of white skin
between the toes. In advanced stages the skin itches and becomes
painful. If you get it, report for medical treatment
and be careful not to give it to others. Since the fungus which causes athlete’s foot
lives in the moistness of showers, pools, and bathrooms, it is always wise to walk through
the chemical solution which is provided in most places to kill the organisms, and to
wear slippers in these places. Corns and calluses are caused by badly fitting
shoes. To relieve the pain and discomfort caused
by them, soak the feet in soapy water until the skin is soft. Then file the corn with an emery board if
possible. Cutting or tearing them out is dangerous and
may result in infection. A moleskin adhesive dressing or a bit of lambs
wool or even wool yarn if the corn is between the toes will help to relieve the pressure
and the pain. The only way to prevent corns and calluses
is to wear properly fitted shoes. Choice of shoes, girdles, all articles of
clothing is only part of the talent for good grooming to which every Wave aspires. Here is where patience and resourcefulness
count, for good grooming is not guaranteed by the fact that you happen to possess a smartly
tailored uniform. It demands constant attention to little details,
sending your uniforms to the cleaners often, or sponging and pressing them regularly yourself. It means shining your shoes every day, keeping
your underclothes clean even if laundering facilities are limited. And by no means least, good grooming calls
for strict attention to bodily cleanliness. During your daily bath you will need to wash
every part of your body thoroughly. The superstition which still crops up occasionally
in spite of modern education and cleanliness, that intimate parts of the body should never
be touched, even in washing, is as ridiculous as it is old fashioned. Soap and water are needed all over the body. Ordinary soap and water cleanliness will also
get rid of normal body odors, though you may want to use a mild underarm deodorant to neutralize
perspiration odors. Be careful to use only one which is non-irritating
to your skin. There are however artificial odors which arise
from disorders in the mouth or vagina and which, though unnoticeable to you, may be
very unpleasant to others. Don’t hesitate to ask your friends if you
suspect such a condition. If they are really kind, they will tell you,
just as you should tell them, so that you can have the condition checked by your medical
officer. Simple medical treatment will often cure even
a deep seated condition of this sort. Then you will want to take good care of your
complexion. A healthy skin is acquired through the ordinary
routine of diet, sleep, and exercise, and is easily preserved by the use of plenty of
soap and water. A little cold cream or mineral oil at night
is a good habit. Care in applying your cosmetics only to a
clean skin with a clean powder puff is another. These simple methods will keep your face as
fresh and attractive as the most elaborate beauty treatments. A stiff nail brush, soap and water, a cuticle
stick to clean around and under the nails, and plenty of vigorous scrubbing will keep
your hands soft. It will also keep the cuticle pliable so that
it can be pushed back with a towel. A little cold cream or mineral oil at night
now and then and regular attention to filing your nails will keep your hands attractive
even if you should go for months without a professional manicure. Daily vigorous brushing with a brush that
has long stiff bristles will add life and luster to your hair. And here are some hints about giving yourself
that shampoo you will need every week or two depending upon the oiliness of your hair and
the conditions in which you live. If your hair and scalp are dry use a small
amount of oil the night before you wash it. Too much oil however will make the hair greasy
and will be difficult to remove. Any excess should be rubbed off with a towel. There are several commercial preparations
on the market known as wetting agents which are frequently more efficient than soap. If soap is used don’t rub it directly on the
hair. Make it into a solution. Work the lather well into your hair, rubbing
the scalp with your fingertips and rinse it thoroughly until your hair squeaks when you
rub your hands over it. Wash your hair several times before the final
rinsing. Don’t forget that you are responsible for
leaving the wash bowl and the shower drain clean and ready for the next person who wants
to use it. A shower, if available, is the best method
for rinsing your hair. At any rate, be sure you have removed all
the soap. Remove as much water as you can with a towel,
and while your hair is drying is a good time to clean your comb and brush. A little ammonia added to plain water is a
good cleaning agent. Follow this with soap and water. Keep your comb and brush clean and allow no
one else to use them. If you are clever at such things, combing
the hair when it is partially dry and setting it will produce much the same effect as the
hairdresser’s finger waves. Remember that clean hair will help protect
you against unsightly skin and scalp infections. There are a number of different skin disorders
which produce rashes. Dandruff may be accompanied by an extensive
one; some come from an allergy; some may result partly from a poor diet and lack of exercise. The oily skin is characteristic of acne. Some, such as impetigo, may be contracted
by exchanging toilet articles, and some may be caused by syphilis. All of these skin disorders, no matter what
the cause, call for medical attention. It is possible that under difficult conditions
which arise in wartime, you may come into contact with some form of lice. Rather than being horrified, an intelligent
woman will seek medical advice in such a situation. If such advice is not available, you might
employ an old remedy to get rid of lice on the head. Wet the hair thoroughly with equal parts of
kerosene and vinegar. Cover the hair with a towel for a half hour. Then wash with warm water and soap, or a wetting
agent. This process should be repeated after 8 days
[EIGHT DAYS LATER], and again after 8 more days have elapsed [AND AGAIN EIGHT DAYS LATER],
so that all lice hatching from remaining eggs will be killed. There are other kinds of lice which are acquired
from close association with persons who are infested. These are called body lice. Some are very
dangerous because they may carry typhus or other fevers. Crab lice may be caught from toilet seats
or from intimate contact with the body of a person who has them. If you find them in the hair on any part of
the body, medical attention should be sought. Some of these instructions for good grooming
may be old stuff to you, but they bear repeating because they are essential to cleanliness
– and cleanliness is the basis of all good looks. No woman who really cares about her appearance
or her health will neglect the matter of internal cleanliness which begins with the mouth. We hardly need to be told to brush our teeth
at least twice a day, but a few hints about proper methods maybe helpful. Your toothbrush should have bristles of different
lengths which are set in tufts rather widely spaced. It should be kept clean and dry. In fact using
two toothbrushes ultimately is a good idea. The best way to keep your teeth clean is to
brush them with an up and down motion. This motion also massages the gums. Additional massaging of your gums in this
manner will help to avoid pyorrhea. Rinse thoroughly after brushing. Since it impossible to clean between your
teeth with a toothbrush, dental floss should be used frequently. The purpose of visiting the dentist at least
twice a year is to check and control decay, prevent tartar from collecting, and make sure
the teeth and gums are healthy. Constipation is a rather common condition,
but the cathartic habit or the enema habit, in fact even the fear of constipation, frequently
has worse results than constipation itself. Let the medical officer advise laxatives if
they are really needed. First you ought to have regular time for going
to the toilet. In group living such as yours, it may be difficult. But try to choose a time when you won’t have
to hurry to make way for others, when you can relax for a few minutes. By the way, do you drink much water? Not very
much I’m afraid. Well drinking lots of water is important.
And be sure you eat a balanced diet with plenty of leafy vegetables and whole grain cereals. Then, remember that the regularity with which
your bowels function depends on your general body tone. Sleep and exercise are important. Do I have to have a bowel movement every day? Not necessarily, though most people normally
do. The interval between movements may vary considerably
from person to person, but if the movements take place regularly and you feel well, it
doesn’t matter. Constipation, if chronic, may cause a common
disorder known as piles or hemorrhoids. The intestines empty their contents into the
rectum which act as a reservoir. The rectum is well supplied with blood vessels. Here on a diagrammatic section through the
rectum we can see how hemorrhoids occur. Repeated straining and emptying the bowel
forces the blood vessels at the anus and sometimes part of the intestine itself down from their
normal place until they protrude. They are usually quite sore and often bleed. Preventing constipation helps to avoid them,
but if present, hemorrhoids should always receive prompt medical attention. As a part of your physical examination, the
medical officer checks the condition of the pelvic cavity where the organs of reproduction
are located. An intelligent woman will realize that this
is just as important as a regular dental examination or a check on her blood pressure. The reassurance that no structural difficulty
or acquired infection can interfere with the normal functioning of the body is conducive
to well being and she will welcome the opportunity which the Navy provides to have this examination
made by a competent medical officer. An intelligent woman will realize also that
it is not enough for the physician to know that her physical condition is good. She too must understand the structure and
function of all parts of her body. Unfortunately however, ignorance about the
reproductive system is still widespread. No human process has been the subject of more
superstition and fear and consequently the cause of more sorrow. Therefore you will want to know the truth
about every part of your own body. A woman’s reproductive or sex organs are peculiarly
adaptive to the functions of childbearing. Here they are seen if they would appear if
the body were transparent. The main organs form a series of hollow or
tube like passages. The external parts of the reproductive organs
consist essentially of several folds of skin called the labia or lips and known as the
vulva. These folds of tissue cover important structures. One is the urethra from which urine is passed. Another is the clitoris a small body analogous
to the male penis. Here are the openings of two small glands
which provide a lubricating fluid called mucus. Covering more or less the entrance to the
internal organs is a membrane known as the hymen or maidenhead. Although the hymen is present in most instances,
some girls are born without it. It is often broken during childhood. The superstition that a woman is not a virgin
unless she has an unbroken hymen is completely inaccurate. For proper orientation let’s look at the body
from a front view again. The reproductive organs can be seen in normal
position in the pelvic cavity. Let’s split the model and turn it to observe
a section through the middle of these organs. Here we can pick up where we left off on the
external organs. The hymen as we have said stretches partly
over the entrance to the internal reproductive organs. The first of these is a channel like structure
called the vagina, which serves as a receptacle for the semen and forms a birth canal. It has a moist lining mucus membrane and its
walls lie in folds which can be easily distended. The cervix is located at the inner end of
the vagina forming the neck of the uterus or womb. The uterus is a pear shaped organ which is
normally about two and three quarter inches in length by one and three quarter inches
in width. Since its purpose is to shelter a baby during
pregnancy, the uterus is capable of enlarging to many times its original size. In addition to the organs of reproduction
we see in this view the bladder and the rectum. Here are the reproductive organs in front
view. At the upper end of the uterus are two tubes,
one on each side, called the ova ducts or fallopian tubes. Their purpose is to transport the ovum, or
egg, from the ovary into the uterus. There are two ovaries, each one located near
the end of a tube; and it is in the ovaries that the female reproductive cells, the ova,
are formed. When an egg is fully developed, it leaves
the ovary and enters one of the fallopian tubes. This process is called ovulation. The egg is then transported slowly toward
the uterus, so slowly that it travels only a few inches in three or four days. During that time it softens and begins to
be absorbed, unless it has been fertilized by a male sperm on the way. During this regular process, the walls of
the uterus have been building up to prepare for the nesting of the possible fertilized
egg. Then sometime after ovulation, if fertilization
has not occurred, menstruation takes place. This is a regular cleaning process. The thickened membrane lining the walls of
the uterus breaks down and is cast off. This broken tissue, together with the blood
and mucus which accompanies it, forms the substance of the menstrual discharge which
passes out through the vaginal opening. There is nothing mysterious or strange about
it. The process is as natural as the peeling and replacement of skin cells. If the egg has been fertilized by a male reproductive
cell, or sperm, it implants itself in the lining of the wall of the uterus where it
continues to grow and menstruation usually stops. When fertilization does not occur, the processes
of menstruation, ovulation, and menstruation, take place in a regular cycle, which recurs
in most women approximately every twenty eight days. However your schedule of this cycle may vary
considerably from this one. Furthermore, the cycle may be upset by changes
in bodily condition, environment, mental stress, or other causes, so that menstruation may
be hastened or delayed. If your menstrual period should be delayed
as much as a week you should see the medical officer immediately to determine the cause. Never try to bring on menstruation by any
method for they are all dangerous. Only the medical officer can safely advise you. The most alarming things about menstruation
are the old wives tales concerning it. What we need is more frankness and less fear. I’ve been wanting to ask you sir, why is menstruation
often so painful? Menstruation shouldn’t be painful. Pain usually indicates that something is wrong
either with the position of the reproductive organs or with their functioning. I have some charts which will explain better. And he explains that there are a number of
causes of menstrual pain or dysmenorrhea. If the uterus is not in normal position there
may be congestion during menstruation and consequent pain. There may be other anatomical reasons for
dysmenorrhea, or the cause may be functional. Here for example you can see that part of
the intestine is near the reproductive organs. Normally there is no bad effect, but constipation
may cause pressure on them and make it difficult for them to function naturally. As we have seen earlier, poor posture may
crowd the reproductive organs into unnatural positions and cause congestion with possible
resultant pain. Actually no one can diagnose the real cause
of dysmenorrhea without a thorough examination. What can be done about it? That depends on the cause. Extreme malposition
may call for an operation. Naturally if the cause is constipation, the
remedy lies in its cure. Yes, but when you have cramps you want to
relieve them quickly. Well then, applications of heat, a hot water
bottle for instance, will often help to relax the muscles and relieve the pain, and drugs
such as aspirin will give temporary relief. Most of the painkilling drugs sold for this
purpose are dangerous, however, and the habit of depending on drugs is a bad one. For any severe menstrual pain you should have
a medical examination to determine the cause. Although it is advisable to keep a record
of the menstrual period, its onset should produce very little change in ones ordinary
routine. An intelligent woman will not regard herself
as ill. On the contrary, though she may avoid violent
exercise, she will find ordinary accustomed forms of exercise good for her, and will take
pride in going about her duties with her accustomed enthusiasm. It is especially important to keep yourself
attractive and clean during the menstrual period since the danger of offensive body
odors is greater then, than at any other time. Regular bathing is not harmful, and is actually
essential to get rid of additional body odors which are present. It is only necessary to see that the bath
is not usually hot or unusually cold. Modern hygiene offers two good methods of
sanitary protection: the sanitary pad and the tampon. You are the best judge of their relative value
for you. If sanitary pads are used, they should be
kept clean, and should be adjusted carefully to prevent irritation. For this reason they should be fastened to
a sanitary belt, which has adjustable fasteners. Both sanitary pads and underclothing should
be changed often and as additional guard against the presence of body odor, it is wise to use
a good deodorant powder, of course selecting one which is not strong or irritating. It should also be used on the underclothing. Some women prefer the tampon to the sanitary
napkin. The tampon is inserted into the vagina to
absorb the menstrual flow. If you use the tampon be careful to see that
it is placed far enough back into the vagina to be comfortable, but not far enough to cause
pressure on the cervix. For those women in whom the vaginal opening
is small, or those who flow very heavily, the tampon is not usually satisfactory. Some women use both the sanitary pad and a
tampon during the days of heaviest flow. Many women find the vaginal douche a necessary
routine, but it is wise to have a medical examination and to get instructions from a
physician before using one for the first time. While it is not common practice to use a douche
during menstruation, it is not harmful. The douching fluid can be plain warm water,
or a solution of plain water plus one tablespoon of baking soda, or water plus one half glass
of vinegar, depending on your physician’s instructions. Strong solutions should be avoided since they
injure the delicate lining of the vagina. A douche is best taken lying down in the bathtub.
Since the amount of the pressure depends on the height of the bag and little pressure
is needed, place it so that the bottom of the bag hangs about six inches above the level
of the hips. The douche may also be taken sitting on the
toilet. Check the height of the bag carefully since
excessive pressure if the bag is too high may force the fluid up into the uterus. The nozzle should be gently inserted and the
labia held lightly together with the hand so that the vaginal cavity will be slightly
distended as the water enters and the fluid can flow freely out of the vagina. Since the possibility of strong pressure is
greater, many physicians feel that the bulb or hand type spray should be condemned. Others believe that it may be used but only
with the greatest care. If the hand type spray is used, the bulb should
be pressed gently with the thumb and index finger, never with the whole pressure of the
hand. Equipment for douching should be kept clean
and reserved strictly for your own use. There is great danger of infection if these
articles are exchanged. We have seen that there are glands around
the entrance to the vagina which normally secrete mucus. The amount of this secretion varies with changes
in the menstrual cycle and increases under sexual excitement, but it is usually not noticeable
in color, odor or amount. A persistent vaginal discharge which is noticeable
on your underclothing is an indication of some disorder which ought to be investigated. Only a medical examination of the individual
who has it and of the discharge itself will reveal the cause and the proper treatment. This is a type of vaginal discharge or leucorrhea,
which is not too difficult to clear up with medical treatment. Thank you sir, I was so afraid it might be
cancer. Well it’s good that you came to see me about
it early. While cancer is not very common among women
of your age, it is quite dangerous when it does occur. Therefore its important to report any unusual
signs, vaginal discharge, lumps in the breast, or any abnormal growth, not because they necessarily
are cancer but to give us a chance to diagnose them, and discover cancer if it is there in
time to cure it. You know cancer is curable if the treatment
is started early enough, but you have nothing to worry about. None of you need worry about your health if
you rely on your medical officers and remember the rules of personal hygiene. One important purpose of your basic training
is to make the fundamentals of healthful living so automatic that no physical disability will
appear to prevent you from carrying out the important jobs you are here to do. Perhaps you will be sent to a naval air station
like this where thousand of posts of duty await women who are dependable and well trained. Perhaps you’ll be stationed at a naval base,
but where ever you are, you will have a woman sized job. Keeping yourself in the best possible physical
condition for it need not be difficult if you consider that the basis of all good health
is a balanced routine of proper diet, sleep, exercise, and relaxation, that high standards for personal cleanliness
will prevent most disorders, and that carelessness, ignorance, superstition, and fear are your
worst enemies. If you remember these things, you will help
to attain the goal of the whole women’s reserve and keep every woman at her post everyday. [The End. MN-1712-A. United States of America
Navy Department. Bureau of Aeronautics. MCMXLIII.]

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