Discourses on menopause--Part I: Menopause described in texts addressed to Danish women 1996-2004

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Lotte Hvas, Dorte Effersøe Gannik

To understand Danish women's very different ways of interpreting menopausal experiences and the way they construct meaning relating to menopause, it is necessary to include the context in which meaning is constructed as well as the background of cultural attitudes to menopause existing in the Danish society. Using documentary material, the aim of this article was to describe different discourses on menopause in Denmark that present themselves to menopausal women, and to discuss how these discourses may affect women's identity and constitute their scope of action. One hundred and thirty-two pieces of text under the heading or subject of 'menopause' or 'becoming a middle-aged woman', published from 1996 to 2004, were included. All material was addressed to Danish women, and consisted of booklets and informational material, articles from newspapers and magazines and popular science books. Seven different discourses on menopause were identified: the biomedical discourse; the 'eternal youth' discourse; the health-promotion discourse; the consumer discourse; the alternative discourse; the feminist/critical discourse; and the existential discourse. The biomedical discourse on menopause was found to be dominant, but was expanded or challenged by other discourses by offering different scopes of action and/or resting on different fundamental values. The discourses constructed and positioned individual women differently; thus, the women's position varied noticeably from one discourse to another. Depending on the discourse drawn upon, the woman's position could be that of a passive patient or that of an empowered woman, capable of making her own choices in relation to her health.
Original languageEnglish
JournalHealth
Volume12
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)157-75
Number of pages18
ISSN1363-4593
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2008

Bibliographical note

Keywords: Attitude to Health; Cultural Characteristics; Denmark; Female; Gender Identity; Humans; Mass Media; Menopause; Middle Aged; Patient Education as Topic; Women's Health

ID: 10796763