Blog of the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research

Searching for Menopause Blogs

January 6th, 2012 by Heather Dillaway

Lately re:Cycling has featured several posts on menopause, and I have begun to think about the other menopause blogs that might be out there. Turns out there are plenty – maybe not as many blogs as there are about reproductive experiences like pregnancy or childbirth but still a lot. There are even blogs that compile info on menopause blogs such as Menopause the Blog.

Blog Series 13 by Richard Smith // CC BY-NC 2.0

If you start searching for these blogs it becomes clear that many talk about hot flashes as a major sign or symptom of menopause (or perimenopause), and offer either strictly biomedical or more natural/alternative remedies for signs or symptoms (e.g., Menopause Symptom Report or I Hate Menopause). Other blogs are written primarily for their comedic value (e.g., Menopause Maniac), support value (e.g., Menopause Goddess Blog), or purely informational value (e.g., Menopause the Blog). (Menopause the Blog does a good job of summarizing some of the major blogs out there, just FYI for those who are interested.)

Many of these menopause blogs conflate the menopause transition with midlife in general (you only have to read a few blog entries to know that women talk as much about the bad and good of midlife as a life stage as they talk about menopause) but some are very specific to menopause. I find it very interesting that there can be so many different kinds of menopause blogs. I also find it interesting that so many of these menopause blogs seem to be trying to work out what midlife as a life stage means as well, which resonates with Paula Derry’s earlier post this week about how little we know about women’s midlife in general.

Perhaps what interests me the most, however, is that all of these menopause blogs seem to be either aligning with or struggling against very negative definitions of menopause. Based on my quick perusal, no blog seems to have moved past or risen above the constant negotiation of biomedical definitions. Even if bloggers are writing about how happy they are at menopause or how much they’ve learned about themselves at this life stage, blog entries still seem to be written in response to negative definitions (or at the very least, in response to the ghosts of negative definitions that still hang around menopause even when it is defined more positively).

To me this means that researchers Antonia Lyons and Christine Griffin are correct in proposing that there is only one “master narrative” of menopause and that women, doctors, women’s partners and children, medical institutions, workplaces, strangers, women’s friends, etc., have no choice but to deal with this master narrative in some way.  This also means that Abbey Hyde and her co-authors are correct in asserting that even when women aren’t using biomedical definitions to describe their menopause transition, these definitions still shape women’s perceptions of their experiences.

So, my question is, have others read these menopause blogs? And if so, does anyone have a different take on these blogs? Perhaps I’m being too harsh and using a very specific lens to look at these varied blogs. But perhaps not. What then? If you agree with me, is this what blogs are ultimately supposed to be in the end – a response (be it direct or indirect, conscious or unconscious) to the master narratives in our lives?

 

  

3 Responses to “Searching for Menopause Blogs”

  1. Elizabeth Kissling says:

    Heather, I think that is indeed a large part of what blogging is: a response to the master narratives in our lives. Thousands of blogs are created on a daily basis by people of all ages and all walks of life, precisely because it is an accessible outlet for responding, resisting, critiquing, and coping with the master narratives of our lives. There are niche blogs and blog communities in just about every realm of human activity — and where there aren’t blogs, there are probably forums. (In fact, if you’re looking for more discussions among midlife women of peri/menopausal experiences, you may find more of it in forums than blogs.)

    I’m with you, though, in being a little surprised that you didn’t find more blog sites like ours that focused more specifically on menopause. I just quickly checked the North American Menopause Society site, and they don’t have a blog, but they have section of their site marked ‘For Consumers’. I find that a fascinating way to frame the provision of information for peri/menopausal women — consumers! As if midlife women trying to understand this experience are ladies going shopping.

    I do have one site to recommend: If you’re not already following Kate Clancy’s “Context and Variation” at Scientific American, you should add it to your list of regular reading. In fact, I need to add her blog to our blogroll at re:Cycling. She doesn’t write specifically about menopause, but it sometimes comes up in her work; she’s an anthropologist who studies evolutionary medicine of women’s reproductive physiology. She’s written several blog posts relevant to SMCR and re:Cycling interests.

    • HeatherD says:

      It’s funny, there were quite a few “menopause” blogs out there (especially by individual women who declared themselves to be menopausal) but not all were currently active or included consistent posts. In fact, some of these more personal blogs even included a final post saying that they had found a treatment for menopause and now they didn’t need to blog anymore. Or that their symptoms had subsided and they could move on now. (It’s fascinating to me how blogging might just be about trying to respond to something negative in our lives rather than anything else. But it might also be important for health care providers and women themselves to realize how important it might be for individuals to write down their feelings about reproductive transitions.) And yes, many blogs really consisted of midlife posts rather than strictly menopause posts. Regarding the “For Consumers” menu at NAMS: I would actually expect that NAMS menu to be “For Patients” rather than “Consumers” since so many biomedical people participate in NAMS….
      I do not know Kate Clancy’s work that well, but will look at it! Thanks for the tip!

    • HeatherD says:

      Also, just as an aside, there are absolutely tons of “midlife” blogs out there as well when I was doing my initial searching, and they are all about living life to its fullest, making this a happy time, etc. All slightly anti-aging (thus a negative view of aging was the master narrative to fight against), but seemingly positive at first glance. However, interestingly, I did not see many mentions of menopause on the midlife blogs….what do you suppose that means?

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