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Narrative review of changing medical and feminist perspectives on menopause: From femininity and ageing to risk and choice

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Madeleine Murtagh


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Meanings and descriptions of menopause have shifted focus over the past century and a half; more particularly the past sixty years has seen a shift from descriptions of hormone decline and its relation to ageing, femininity and symptoms of menopause since the 1960's to the possibility for preventive medicine afforded by menopause. Medicine is not a static field in its construction of menopause. It has changed, not least by its engagement (positively or negatively) with critique from both within (epidemiological) and without (feminist and social sciences). In this review we identify three recent changes: (1) Increasing concern with women's decision-making. (2) The emergence from within medicine of the rejection of the use of language which defines menopause as a condition of deficiency. (3) New insights from postmodern and poststructural analyses of menopause that examine the epistemological foundations of medical and feminist concepts of menopause and contest fixed descriptions of the experience of menopause. Key aspects of a 'medical menopause' nevertheless remain constant: menopause is a loss of hormones that results in predictable effects and risks and may be ameliorated by hormone replacement therapy. A question therefore emerges about how and to what effect medical practitioners have engaged with critiques of the medical menopause? © 2005 Taylor & Francis Group Ltd.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Murtagh MJ, Hepworth J

Publication type: Review

Publication status: Published

Journal: Psychology, Health and Medicine

Year: 2005

Volume: 10

Issue: 3

Pages: 276-290

ISSN (print): 1354-8506

ISSN (electronic): 1465-3966


DOI: 10.1080/13548500500093225