Medicalization, menopausal time and narratives of loss: Iranian Muslim women negotiating gender, sexuality and the menopause in Tehran and Karaj

Elham Amini, Mark McCormack

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Drawing on life-course interviews with 30 Iranian menopausal women, this study examines menopause as an extended period during which women evaluate their lives in the context of the patriarchal culture of Iran. Referring to this period as menopausal time, we document how these women use “loss narratives” to understand the negative impact of the gendered and sexual rules of Iranian culture throughout their lives, including fear of a medicalized menopause which is believed to signify entering old age and the approach of death. Yet, contrasting with Western theories of agency and repression, we document how participants use menopausal time to negotiate different relationships with their husbands—resisting beauty norms, talking about sex for the first time and rejecting intercourse in certain circumstances. As such, we develop an account of these women's agency that differs from Western notions of both agency and menopause by recognizing the complex and meaningful ways Iranian menopausal women mediate the patriarchal norms of Iranian culture with the realities of their daily lives and sense of autonomous self.

© 2019, Elsevier. The attached document (embargoed until 01/09/2021) is an author produced version of a paper published in WOMEN'S STUDIES INTERNATIONAL FORUM uploaded in accordance with the publisher’s self- archiving policy. The final published version (version of record) is available online at the link. Some minor differences between this version and the final published version may remain. We suggest you refer to the final published version should you wish to cite from it.
Original languageEnglish
Article number102277
JournalWomen's Studies International Forum
Issue numberSeptember–October 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2019


  • women
  • menopause
  • health
  • narratives
  • Iran

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