From Menarche to Menopause
Reproductive Lives of Peasant Women in Two Cultures
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While menopause is a universal fact of life, the physiological and psychological effects for women are not the same in all cultures. In this comparative and cross-cultural ethnographic study, Beyene examines the concept and experience of menopause among Greek and Mayan peasant women, uncovering some startling information. Available research and experience thus far suggests that non-Western, nonindustrialized women often do not have the same psychological or physiological reactions to menopause as Western, industrialized women do.
By comparing the reproductive histories of one group of peasant women to another, the author makes it possible to isolate historical, cultural and environmental factors relating to variations or similarities in response to menopause. Her findings underscore the plasticity of the human aging experience, particularly among women. The book presents a biocultural view linking the experience of menopause to diet and fertility patterns, and provides new insights and hypotheses on the reproductive cycle and aging in women.
Yewoubdar Beyene is Research Fellow in the Medical Anthropology Program at the University of California, San Francisco.
"It provides exciting crosscultural data, (specifically that hot flashes are not universal and that menopause is something that is not 'naturally' experienced as negative) that are going to radically reformulate current theories about menopause. It provides a different view of how menopause is experienced, i. e. positively, and in that way provides a strong argument for the cultural shaping of biology. " — Brigitte Jordan, Michigan State University