• Dr. Kilmer's Female Remedy promised to bring health to "Our Mothers, Wives and Daughters" by providing relief for "dropsy, spineache and bloating,” ca. 1885. Courtesy of the Boston Public Library via Digital Commonwealth.

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    Dr. Kilmer's Female Remedy. Binghamton, N. Y. Consultation by mail free
    • Date
    • 1870-1900
    • Description
    • Title from item. Date supplied by cataloger. Dr. Kilmer & Co.
    • Rights
    • No known copyright restrictions. No known restrictions on use.
    • Partner
    • Digital Commonwealth
    • Contributing Institution
    • Boston Public Library

  • A trade card illustrating a woman offering advice to another woman, "Compliments of Ellis & Pattee, Druggists." Courtesy of the Hennepin County Library via Minnesota Digital Library.

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    Compliments of Ellis & Pattee, Druggists
    • Creator
    • Ellis & Pattee
    • Description
    • Business trade card advertising druggists Ellis and Pattee.
    • Rights
    • Please contact the Hennepin County Library for permission to use.
    • Partner
    • Minnesota Digital Library
    • Contributing Institution
    • Hennepin County Library, James K. Hosmer Special Collections Library

  • An advertisement for Humphrey's Witch Hazel Oil, ca. 1885. Courtesy of the Boston Public Library via Digital Commonwealth.

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    Humphreys' Witch Hazel Oil, ointment and liniment combined
    • Date
    • 1870-1900
    • Description
    • Title from item. Date supplied by cataloger. Humphreys' Medicine Co.
    • Rights
    • No known copyright restrictions. No known restrictions on use.
    • Partner
    • Digital Commonwealth
    • Contributing Institution
    • Boston Public Library

  • An advertisement for Dr. Kilmer's Female Remedy, ca. 1885. Courtesy of the Boston Public Library via Digital Commonwealth.  

    More info
    Select an item:
    Dr. Kilmer's Female Remedy
    • Date
    • 1870-1900
    • Description
    • Title from item. Date supplied by cataloger. Dr. Kilmer & Co.
    • Rights
    • No known copyright restrictions. No known restrictions on use.
    • Partner
    • Digital Commonwealth
    • Contributing Institution
    • Boston Public Library

“Only a woman can understand a woman’s ills.”  

—Lydia Pinkham

Many patent medicine makers marketed products specifically to women. During this time, many American women were not comfortable talking and asking questions about their own bodies. Given that most doctors were men, many women were hampered by their own modesty and society’s sense of propriety. Furthered by the fact that some women living in rural or frontier America did not always have access to a doctor, patent medicines offered an opportunity to self-remedy. The privacy and convenience of patent medicines delivered by mail order addressed these issues.

The following list of women’s health issues were subjects that many women did not feel comfortable discussing.

• Puberty
• Menstruation
• Fertility
• Pregnancy
• Abortions
• Childbirth
• Postpartum Depression
• Menopause

When women did discuss these health concerns they often used euphemisms or veiled terms as opposed to more straightforward terms. For example, the term “maturation” was used for the onset of puberty and "the change" referred to the start of menopause.