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Lecture 2

Week 2 - Menopause, Local Biologies and Cultures of Aging

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University of Toronto Scarborough
Health Studies
Denis Maxwell

HLTC02 WINTER 2013 Menopause, Local Biologies and Cultures of Aging by Margaret Lock & Patricia Kaufert Introduction  The end of menstruation is a complex biosocial and bicultural process but clinical researchers and physicians believe it is an almost UNIVERSAL process  Variations are thought to be caused by psychological, social and cultural differences that are layered over an invariant biological base  Dominant view sees menopause as a pathological condition that is seeing this biological process become increasingly medicalized – consistent with the current over medicalization of female bodies throughout the life course  Paper looks at varying differences in symptoms and experience of menopause in North American (US/Canada) and Japan  Problems with research: o Use of small samples with an overrepresentation of the clinical population (menopausal women, women in psychiatric care centres) and generalizing such results to a more diverse, heterogeneous population o Long lasting impact of Freudian theories – expectation that the loss of fertility would lead to depression was theoretically plausible but empirically untested  This paper hopes to describe the discomfort in menopause in North American societies is not universal. Menopause as a Cultural Construct  Menopause is not a fact, it is a cultural construct shaped by social roles, norms and experiences  It is not a singular event but rather a prolonged process and the current medical definition of menopause as a women’s last menses doesn’t fit  Halford’s term climacteric was seen as gender neutral and defined as a period of life at which the vital forces begin to decline, commencing from about 45 to 60 years of age o Symptoms: loss of weight and appetite, fever, head and chest pains, vertigo, rheumatic pains, swollen legs, sluggish bowels, anxiety of mind and sorrow  Gardanne invented term menopause and linked it to menstruation happened at the same time as inception of obstetrics and gynecology  North American physicians focused on anatomy whereas eastern healers focused on physiology  Minority of physicians see menopause as protective physiological phenomenon for the aging body but instead see it has a revolutionary transition  Research samples on menopause rarely make the differentiation between those who have menopause for surgical reasons (oophorectomy) vs. medical menopause  Study on Japanese women and menopause looked at three distinct groups o Rural Area Nagano where women either manage or work on farms o City Area Kyoto where women work in blue collar jobs or factories o Suburb Area Kobe where women are professional house wives HLTC02 WINTER 2013 Symptom Reporting in Menopause  List of 17 sympto
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