Conclusion and Bibliography


After looking at the life course of women, through pregnancy, body image, disease, and menopause; it is clear that medicalisation plays a vital role throughout a woman’s life. During the stages of pregnancy, a lot of medical focus has been placed on getting pregnant, such as through fertility research, and also at the stage of giving birth. This is something highly criticised by feminists as this shows the medical emphasis on the male involvement in pregnancy, whilst the carrying of the child, which is done by women, lacks in medical research; in this way, pregnancy may only be partially medicalised. Once a women moves on from her more fertile years, this blog has taken a look at menopause.  Menopause is medicalised as women are given treatment and advice on how to handle this stage in their life, yet women are also left feeling they are no longer pregnancy ‘worthy’. Once a women ages, this often brings along disease with this; this stage of a women’s life is highly medicalised, as the older generation tend to be given a lot of monitoring and medical care. Whilst these subjects all discuss the medical processes a women goes through, throughout each stage of her life, women are often pressured consistently by body image. Due to the demand and availability of cosmetic surgery, women are plagued by the ‘ideal’ women and therefore this has led to increases in cosmetic surgery. Cosmetic surgery itself is fully medicalised, as this needs to be both consulted and carried out by a medical practitioner; which scarily, any doctor can carry out.

Evaluate Illich’s (1976) notion of ‘medical imperialism’ – is this claim accurate today?
Looking at the life course of women, the evidence suggests ‘medical imperialism’ is highly prevalent today, if not more than when Illich created this notion.  Women are pressured, surveyed, and told what they should and should not do. Bodies are normalised then compared and contrasted to make abnormal or sick bodies.



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Beeden, A & Z, M, V (2015) The Sociology Book (Big Ideas). DK, Penguin Random House. Pp. 261.

Brockie, J. (2005). Alternative approaches to the menopause. In Reviews in Gynaecological Practice. 5 (1), p1-7.

Connell, R, W (1987). Gender and Power: Society, the Person, and Sexual Politics. Stanford University Press.

Daily Express Newspaper, May 22nd 2015, P:4. Available at:

Dykes, K. Slade, P. & Haywood, A. (2011). Long term follow-up of emotional experiences after termination of pregnancy: women’s views at menopause. Journal of Reproductive and Infant Psychology. 29 (1), 93-112.

Dykes, F. (2009) ‘No Time to Care’: Midwifery Work on Postnatal Wards in England’. In Hunter, B. and Deery, R. (eds). Emotions in Midwifery and Reproduction. (pp. 90-104). Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan.

Edwards, N.P. (2001) ‘Why Can’t Women Just Say No? And Does It Really Matter?’ In Kirkham, M. (ed), Informed Choice in Maternity. (pp. 1-29). Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan.

Gullette, M.M. (1995). Inventing the “Postmaternal” Woman, 1898-1927: Idle, Unwanted, And Out Of A Job. Feminist Studies. 21 (2), p221. 31-33p.

Hunt, K. (1946). Menopause; Peri menopausal Symptoms; Middle Aged: 45-64 years; Female. Managing the Menopause. 2016 (4), 24-32. 6p.

Illich, I (1976) Medical Nemesis. The Expropriation of Health. Newyork: Pantheon.

Laven, Joop S.E.; Visser, Jenny A.; Uitterlinden, Andre G.; Vermeij, Wilbert P.; Hoeijmakers, Jan H.J. (2016). Menopause: Genome stability as new paradigm. ScienceDirect. (1), p.15-23.

Macintyre, S. (1977) ‘The Management of Childbirth: A Review of Sociological Research Issues’ Social Science and Medicine. (11) pp 477-84.

Madeleine J. Murtagh, & Julie Hepworth. (2005). Narrative review of changing medical and feminist perspectives on menopause: From femininity and ageing to risk and choice. Psychology, Health & Medicine. 10 (3), p.276 – 290.

Marilys N. Guillemin. (1999). Managing menopause: a critical feminist engagement. Journal of Public Health. 27 (4), p.273-278.

Moore, Suzanne. (2015). There won’t be blood the meaning of the menopause. New Statesman. 144 Issue 5275, p30-35. 5p.

Morantz-Sanchez, Regina. (2000). Negotiating Power At The Bedside: Historical Perspectives On Nineteenth-Century Patients And Their Gynecologists. Feminist Studies. 26 (2), p.7-10.

National Health Service Act. (1977) [Online] Available at:  Accessed on 10th May 2017.

Oakley, A. (1980) Women Confined. Oxford: Martin Robertson and Company Ltd.

Perls, T. Fretts, T & Ruth, C. (2001). The evolution of menopause and human life span. ANNALS OF HUMAN BIOLOGY. 28 (3), p.237-245.

Romalis, S. (1985) ‘Struggle between Providers and Recipients: The Case of Birth Practices.’ In Lewin. E and Olesen. V (eds), Women, Health and Healing: Toward a New Perspective.  (pp.174-208). London: Tavistock.

Shilling, C (2003) The Body and Social Theory. SAGE Publications.

Trevathan, W. (1997) An Evolutionary Perspective on Authoritative Knowledge About Birth.  In Davis Floyd, R.E and Sargent , C.F. (eds) Childbirth and Authoritative Knowledge: Cross Cultural Perspectives (pp. 80-88). London: University of California Press.

Van Dyke, K et al (2015), The effects of age and physical health on processing speed in HIV, P:1327, vol. 10.

Versluyen, M. (1977) ‘Medical Professionalism and Maternity Hospitals in Eighteenth Century London: A Sociological Interpretation ‘.  The Society for Social History of Medicine. (21) (pp. 34-36).




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