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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Sexual Ethics and Politics » The Medicalization of Menstruation

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Author Topic: The Medicalization of Menstruation
Member # 14139

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I was reading the thread "on the rag," and it got me to thinking about this.

I first heard the term "medicalization" in my human sexuality course, but it makes a lot of sense. A woman's cycle is something wrong with her, something that need to be medicated. That's what the perception is. And so the world of medicine comes out with more and more products to help get us through those trying days of the month where we (the females here anyway) are emotional, bloated, irrational, tired, cramping, and bleeding. It's assumed that every woman every where needs midol.

This is not to say that there aren't people out there who have severe symptoms that accompany menstruation, but it's quite frankly an overblown industry. I bought Midol, but I never had any more cramps. The box is still closed. I had just thought it was something I ought to have. Just in case.

And the same thing goes with commercials for "feminine products." Right now I'm thinking of the ones with the bouncing red ball that says "don't you hate when your period falls right during a party, a vaction, whatever. Use our product and be happy!" Not verbatim, of course, but it's the idea they seem to be selling. That woman MUST look upon her period as an inconvenience, and to help alleviate that monthly annoyance, buy more and better products.

I could try and link this to the male dominated industries that produce the products that are sold which medicalize menstruation. But frankly I don't have any sources handy to back me up.

What I'm getting at is that the media is portraying menstruation as a disease, something that needs to be fixed. But it's not. What they don't get is that it's normal, natural, and to be embraced.

I'm going to get off my high horse now. What do you think? Am I going off about something that's not real, or is there a real trend here? What can we do about it? If anything?

I'd say that's my two cents, but I think it's at least a quarter.

I see you shiver with antici......pation

Posts: 317 | From: Seattle, WA | Registered: Jul 2003  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
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Great post, Froggy.

And I'd agree with you.

I think a very good way to oppose that is one person at a time. For instance, ditch commercial menstrual products, and use homemade or indie-women made, nondisposable, products instead.

I can never run out of good things to say about what Madeline does with Lunapads (, for instance. Not only, between a keeper and a big pile of washable pads and panties will I likely never need new products again, I gift from there often for close friends, friends with daughters just menstruating, etc.

I think too that when possible, shifting really negative talk about menstruation among peers to more positive, productive stuff is helpful. Given the majority of ill menstrual symptoms are very easily treated, and not by medications, but by nutritional and lifestyle changes, focusing on that can be easy -- lots of folks don't know the basics, so turn to chemical medications and the like because no one's let them in on other options.

Posts: 68290 | From: An island near Seattle | Registered: May 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator

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