Cartoon illustration of opera singerThat’s the report from this arts blogger at the New York Times. Yesterday, doctors from the Methodist Center for Performing Arts Medicine of the Methodist Hospital in Houston held a daylong symposium on the management of medical problems among musicians specifically and performing artists more generally. Performing-arts medicine is a relatively new specialty, and frankly, I’m not surprised by the need for it. (I know a drummer who has ongoing neck and back problems caused – or at least aggravated – by his art.)

But I was surprised to see a blanket recommendation that female vocalists use oral contraceptives to suppress menstruation. According to Keith O. Reeves, the deputy chief of Gynecology at the Methodist Hospital and a professor at Weill Cornell, premenstrual syndrome “brings vocal fatigue, decreased range, loss of power and loss of some harmonics.” Continuous use of synthetic hormones is quite an extreme remedy for an illness without a clear definition or etiology.

But apparently menopause is much harder on the vocal folds – our intrepid blogger can’t even tell us:

As for menopause, you don’t want to know. As Dr. Reeves quotes the great mezzo-soprano Christa Ludwig, “It was a hell of some years.”

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