Part I

BIOLOGY, PHARMACOLOGY AND CHEMISTRY
Part II

CLINICAL INVESTIGATIONS BASED ON THE
FEMALE SEX HORMONE BLOOD TEST

BY

Robert T. Frank, A. M., M. D., F. A.C. S.

GYNECOLOGIST TO MOUNT SINAI HOSPITAL, NEW YORK

With 86 Illustrations and 36 Graphs

“Propter secretiones iniemas Iotas, mulier est quod «/”

F. A. E. Crew [S’!

THE FEMALE. SEX HORMONE

CHARLES C THOMAS * PUBLISHER

SPRINGFIELD, ILLINOIS BALTIMORE, MARYLAND
MDCCCCXXIX

Figure 3.2 Title-page of The Female Sex Hormone, the first handbook on female sex hormones that appeared in 1929.

Source: Frank (1929)

and nonpregnant enlargements of the uterus. The test was also applied for sex determination “in the presence of malformation” (Frank 1929:295).

In The Female Sex Hormone Frank propagated the use of the female sex hormone blood test to his colleagues, emphasizing the fact that this test could be easily performed in any hospital laboratory:

the average hospital equipment and personnel is well able to perform this test as a routine just as the Wasserman test is performed in hospital laboratories. The space at our disposal has been limited to a single room. In this there are 25 rat cages in which 250 castrated mice can be kept for the test.

(Frank 1929:177)

Obviously, instrumental considerations are also a major factor in judging the usefulness of tests for the clinic.

The introduction of the vaginal smear test in the laboratory heralded yet another major change in the medical practice concerning the female body. Laboratory scientists focussed the attention of the medical profession on cellular changes in the vagina of the human female. In 1933 George Papanicolaou, one of the founding fathers of the vaginal smear test, suggested that this test could also be applied directly to women, indicating “potential and actual pathological changes in the cervix and uterus for diagnosis of cancerous and other abnormal conditions.”7 The introduction of the vaginal smear test in the clinic extended the medical intervention techniques from the uterus and the ovaries to the vagina. This technique provided gynecologists and physicians with a powerful new diagnostic tool to investigate their female patients. Since the 1930s, the vaginal smear technique (or “Pap smear” as this test came to be known in honor of Papanicolaou) has become increasingly applied as a potential indicator of menstrual disorders, and more recently as a diagnostic test in large-scale screening programs for cancer.