How did menopause change from being a natural (and often welcome) end to a woman's childbearing years to a deficiency disease in need of medical and pharmacological intervention? As she traces the medicalization of menopause over the last 100 years, historian Judith Houck challenges some widely held assumptions. Physicians hardly foisted hormones on reluctant female patients; rather, physicians themselves were often reluctant to claim menopause as a medical problem and resisted the widespread use of hormone therapy for what was, after all, a normal transition in a woman's lifespan. Houck argues that the medical and popular understandings of menopause at any given time depended on both pharmacological options and cultural ideas and anxieties of the moment. As women delayed marriage and motherhood and entered the workforce in greater numbers, the medical understanding, cultural meaning, and experience of menopause changed. By examining the history of menopause over the course of the twentieth century, Houck shows how the experience and representation of menopause has been profoundly influenced by biomedical developments and by changing roles for women and the changing definition of womanhood.
Judith A. Houck is Associate Professor of Gender and Women's Studies, Medical History and Bioethics, and History of Science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the UW Center for Women's Health Research.
Introduction 1. "Hold Oneself Well in Hand": Medicine, Menopause, and the New Woman 2. "Endocrine Perverts" and "Derailed Menopausics": Gender Transgressions and Mental Disorders, 1897-1937 3. "Consider the Patent as a Woman and Not a Groups of Gland": Women, Menopause, and the Medical Encounter, 1938-1962 4. Domesticity and Liberation: Menopause in the Popular Literature, 1938-1962 5. "Casting an Evil Spell over Her Once Happy Home": Menopause as a Family Disease, 1938-1962 6. "Why All the Fuss?" Middle-Class Women and the Denial of the Menopausal Body, 1938-1962 7. Feminine Forever: Robert A. Wilson and the Hormonal Revolution, 1963-1980 8. "At the Will and Whim of My Hormones": Women, Menopause, and the Hormonal Imperative 9. "What Do These Women Want?" Feminist Responses to Feminine Forever Epilogue. Aging Supermodels and Inner Crones: Menopause at the Turn of the Twenty-First Century Notes Index