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From bodies to lives, complainers to consumers: Measuring menstrual excess


  • Hasson, Katie Ann


Feminist research has shown repeatedly the extent to which medical accounts pathologize menstruation, yet there has been very little examination of how clinicians and medical researchers actually study and assess menstruation. This paper analyzes 30 US medical journal articles to examine how researchers work to distinguish the specific menstrual disorder of menorrhagia, or excessive bleeding, from normal menstruation. I focus specifically on measurement as a key process in diagnosing menstrual pathology, arguing that measurement practices construct women's bodies as appropriate objects of medical attention in ways that also shape women's positions as participants in knowledge production. I begin with the alkaline hematin method's narrow focus on physical proof of bleeding that proves or disproves women's complaints and trace the emergence of new methods that incorporate women's own assessments of bleeding. Changing ways of measuring menstruation point to shifts in understandings of the body as the object of medical treatment and of patients as medical subjects.

Suggested Citation

  • Hasson, Katie Ann, 2012. "From bodies to lives, complainers to consumers: Measuring menstrual excess," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 75(10), pages 1729-1736.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:75:y:2012:i:10:p:1729-1736
    DOI: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2012.07.005

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Dumit, Joseph, 2006. "Illnesses you have to fight to get: Facts as forces in uncertain, emergent illnesses," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 62(3), pages 577-590, February.
    2. O'Flynn, Norma & Britten, Nicky, 2000. "Menorrhagia in general practice -- disease or illness," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 50(5), pages 651-661, March.
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    Cited by:

    1. Sweet, Paige L., 2014. "‘Every bone of my body:’ Domestic violence and the diagnostic body," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 122(C), pages 44-52.
    2. Whooley, Owen, 2016. "Measuring mental disorders: The failed commensuration project of DSM-5," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 166(C), pages 33-40.


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