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Discourses on menopause — Part II: How do women talk about menopause?

[journal article]

Hvas, Lotte; Gannik, Dorte Effersøe

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Abstract The aim of this article is to describe which of the different available discourses women relate to as revealed in the way they talk about menopause. We use a discourse analytic approach, which implies that meaning is ascribed to things according to how we talk about them. Twenty-four menopausal women from Denmark were interviewed. They were selected to cover a broad spectrum of Danish women with different menopausal experiences and social background factors. Seven previously identified discourses could be found in the interviews, though to varying degrees from woman to woman. Nearly all women used terms from the biomedical sphere like `a period of decline and decay', even if they did not necessarily agree with this view. Also the existential discourse permeated most of the interviews, especially when the conversation turned to the ageing process, femininity and self-development. The way the menopause was talked about almost became kaleidoscopic when images speedily changed from the decrepit osteoporotic woman or a woman with lack of vitality and sex-appeal to a healthy and strong woman with control over her body and self. Since many women contact doctors in relation to menopause, and since the way doctors talk about menopause is influential, doctors should carefully consider which words and images they use in the counselling. The medical way of perceiving menopause is just one of many, and doctors must be aware that there are other different and partially contradicting discourses at play in society and in the women's universes.
Free Keywords discourse analysis; menopause; midlife; social construction; women;
Document language English
Publication Year 2008
Page/Pages p. 177-192
Journal Health, 12 (2008) 2
Status Postprint; peer reviewed
Licence PEER Licence Agreement (applicable only to documents from PEER project)