This paper draws on data collected from village-based ethnographic research conducted in northeast Thailand in 1990-1991 and highlights the polarities and contradictions of perceptions of menopause that exist between village women and health personnel with whom these women interact. For village women until recently, the menopause has been regarded as a simple and natural biological event; for health professionals, it is consistently represented as a 'medical problem' indicating treatment. The paper highlights women's construction of menopause, and their recognition and management of its physical symptoms. It draws attention too to differences among women and to the dynamic nature of their understandings and consequent health-seeking behaviour. The paper also describes the way in which health providers, through their own training and reading of professional and popular journals, increasingly represent the menopause as a pathological process and treatable condition. Through the exploration of conflicting perceptions of the menopause among contemporary Thai women, the paper draws attention to the heterogeneity and fluidity in understandings of biological processes that are related to and reflect the wider social and economic changes to which they are subject.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Researches suggest that people's perception about menopause largely depends on the inherent sociocultural context. In some of the developed countries of the west, menopause is viewed pessimistically. So, the understanding of this reproductive phase as a health risk and the approach to medicalise it are more pronounced in these countries. Some studies show that presently, to certain extent, people from developing countries are espousing menopause in a similar way like the west. The present study aims to understand the knowledge, attitude and perception of urban middle class women of West Ben-gal (India) toward menopause. The data have been collected on post menopausal women from their lived experience. The result shows that women of this study group are not much concerned with menopause and menopausal problems and do not perceive this reproductive episode of their life as health risk. It seems that the sociocultural perspective of the Bengali middle class epitomize menopause as uneventful. Thus, it appears that the agenda of promoting menopause as a medical model, has probably failed to penetrate the life of Bengali middle class community.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The meaning and experience of menopause among Hmong women from Laos is examined in this paper. Hmong women see the menopause as part of growing old. A woman becomes menopausal only when she has borne all of her children. Although having many children is highly valued women do not see menopause as a negative stage since they have already borne many children and thus have ensured the continuity of lineage. Women also associate menopause with the polluted nature of menstruation. Once menstruation has ceased a woman becomes clean like a man and she is able to relax more. It appears that Hmong women perceive menopause as positive and that they experience few so-called menopausal symptoms. However, because of the availability of western health care and the relative lack of traditional herbal medicines and healers in Australia, women seek help from mainstream health services when they experience ill health of any kind. This inevitably puts women in midlife into contact with current medical interpretations of menopause. Will Hmong women be encouraged to interpret menopause as a medically oriented event and thus experience menopausal symptoms in the way many Australian women do? It remains to be seen.
Journal of Reproductive and Infant Psychology 04/1995; 13(2):79-92. DOI:10.1080/02646839508403238 · 0.67 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The nature—culture divide of the Western biomedical and feminist models of the menopausal woman is challenged by the presentation of the results of various anthropological studies of the menopausal transition. Perspectives on women's ageing bodies may differ across cultures. In individual narratives culturally dominant perspectives on women's ageing bodies may be either reproduced or challenged. Variation in the social position of women is but one of the factors to explain inter- and intracultural differences in the symptomatology and experience of the menopause, and the meaning given to this life-cycle transition. Other factors to be considered in the study of the menopause cross-culturally are psychological factors, genetics, the entire reproductive history including pregnancy and lactation, patterns of menstrual fluctuation throughout a life-cycle, level of physical activity, diet and physical environment. Based on the knowledge currently available no clear conclusions can be drawn with respect to the causal connections between the different factors relating to intra- and intercultural variations or similarities in response to the menopause, and to the possible linkages between the menopause and illnesses of ageing like osteoporosis and heart disease. It is stressed that in future studies serious attention must be paid to the various methodological problems at stake in the cross-cultural study of the experience and symptomatology of the menopause as a biocultural and political process.
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