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Hot & Bothered: Women, Medicine, & Menopause in Modern America

Judith A. Houck
Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press; 2006
239 pages

Hot and Bothered attempts to chart the “history of menopause in the United States,” from the end of the 19th century until the present. The author discusses how views of menopause have evolved over time as changes occur in the social context and scientific understanding of this important physiologic transition in women. The author draws on a wide range of academic, popular, and medical sources. She quotes them liberally while trying to chronicle the place of menopause in the medical world and women’s lives.

The book is divided into nine chapters -- two covering 1897 to 1937, four covering 1938 to 1962, and three covering 1963 to 1980. Each addresses a separate theme, such as “The Change Emancipates Women,” and “Menopause, Domesticity, and Liberation in the Popular Literature 1928-1962.” This structure and the lack of a similar comparative approach from epoch to epoch make the book choppy -- more like separate essays than a coherent whole.

Students of menopause or individuals interested in women’s health or women’s studies will find that this book provides a wealth of interesting historical information. The epilogue in particular, written after the Women’s Health Initiative, is interesting to read and insightful. Yet, for the average woman trying to navigate her menopause transition in 2008, this book does not have a lot to offer.

Review written by:

Marcie K. Richardson, MD
Harvard Vanguard Menopause Consultation Service
Boston, MA
Credentialed NAMS Menopause Practitioner
Member, NAMS Consumer Education Committee
Co-Editor, Menopause Flashes

The comments contained here are opinions or information of the reviewers and not necessarily the opinions or information of The North American Menopause Society, its officers, agents, or Trustees. Oversight for the book reviews is given by David A. Hutchins, MD, a member of the NAMS Consumer Education Committee.
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