Premenstrual Syndrome and the Medicalization of Menopause: A Sociological Perspective

  • Susan E. Bell


More than 50 years ago. Robert T. Frank (1931: 1053–1054). an eminent medical scientist, gave the name of Premenstrual Tension to the “minor disturbances,” including “increased fatigability, irritability, lack of concentration and attacks of pain,” as well as to the “indescribable tension” experienced by some women premenstrually. These physical disturbances, he believed, led to disruptions in the social fabric; he cited instances of patients’ complaints of interference in their family lives and in their employment. Implicit in this formulation of the problem was a belief that relief of women’s physical distress would lead to social order, and that the proper role of medicine was to intervene. These assumptions about the connection between physical and social disorder and about the role of medicine in treating these disorders are mirrored by many others in medical publications since the 1950’s (Morton, 1953a; Reid & Yen, 1981).


Menstrual Cycle Menopausal Woman Menopausal Symptom Estrogen Replacement Therapy Premenstrual Syndrome 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1987

Authors and Affiliations

  • Susan E. Bell
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Sociology and AnthropologyBowdoin CollegeBrunswickUSA

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