Research Article| Volume 1, ISSUE 3, P145-151, February 1979

La Menespausie — The birth of a syndrome

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      The prevalent assumption that climacteric disturbances appeared when the expectation of life of women assured survival past the menopause cannot be supported demographically. These disorders are largely conditioned by sociocultural factors and, therefore, may be expected to have been initiated when these factors became stressful. Historical examination shows that medicine, or its marginal practitioners, were always involved in the postponement of ageing whenever the status of women depended more on their attractiveness than other social determinants, a logical “geriatric” extension of its traditional cosmetic activities. No menopausal disturbances are however recorded until the social convulsions of the French Revolution, and the régimes which followed, seem to have crystalized the various complaints of the climacteric into a disease-expression, which reified the social stress to which women were subject. This is dramatically reflected, both in the medical writings published in France around the year 1800, and in the naming, for the first time, of this phase of woman's life: La Ménespausie, soon shortened to Menopause.


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