Blog of the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research

More on life-giving female fluids

April 23rd, 2010 by Chris Hitchcock

When I was pregnant and then learning to breast-feed my daughter, my doula told me that breast milk had great anti-biotic properties, and that it was good to use on eye-infections and cuts. Turns out that there is science behind that. Not only that, but now scientists have shown that breast milk contains substances that may kill cancerous cells. They’re calling the extracted substance HAMLET – not sure why a substance extracted from lactating women would be named after a grieving, tortured young man struggling with suicidal and homicidal thoughts, but I’ll leave more thoughts on that to those who are better at post-modern analysis.

It reminds me of the idea of harvesting stem-cells from menstrual blood. And also some questions about that. Like, is this one of the cases where it matters what produced the menstrual blood? Not all episodes of menstrual bleeding are the same. So how does stem cell quality differ among these different sources of uterine blood?

  • a normal ovulatory cycle
  • normal-length but anovulatory cycle
  • very long or irregular cycles, which tend to be anovulatory
  • withdrawal bleed when you are on the pill
  • or even a post-menopausal vaginal bleed from taking sequential hormone therapy

I don’t even know if anyone is asking these questions, because there is relatively little interest or appreciation in the varieties of sources of menstrual blood and how it might change its quality.

3 responses to “More on life-giving female fluids”

  1. Tori says:

    I’d also be interested in whether people are asking about differences — cycles that are anovulatory, irregular, or otherwise out of the “normal” range — due to specific health conditions: thyroid issues, PCOS, endometriosis, adenomyosis, etc. A number of these are under researched as it is, so I think knowing the “whys” behind specific types of uterine bleeding might be as useful as knowing the differences in the “whats.”

  2. Chella says:

    May have to rewrite ‘To Bleed Or Not To Bleed’ as ‘To Breastfeed Or Not To Breastfeed’. I’ll get right on that post-modern analysis and get back to you. Very interesting stuff.

  3. Re: They’re calling the extracted substance HAMLET

    I think the acryonym for “Human Alpha-lactalbumin Made LEthal to Tumour cells” emphasizes the “made lethal” part – meaning, in the overall play, a number of things are made lethal – a cup of wine, as well as the tips of swords, with the same poison; Hamlet as a character is made lethal, after a ghost instructs him to avenge his murder, etc…

    Maybe they could have called it THELMA instead of HAMLET, but to do so would require more acronym-izing skill than I possess – first I thought of the Thelma and Louise film, but that’s not exactly life-affirming (car over cliff at end) – then Thelma Houston, disco singer, “Don’t Leave Me This Way” – too desperate for a hem-onc clinic…maybe GLORIA, as in Gaynor, and her song, “I Will Survive…”

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