Experiencing menopause in the UK: The interrelated narratives of normality, distress, and transformation

Isabel de Salis*, Amanda Owen-Smith, Jenny L. Donovan, Debbie A. Lawlor

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

32 Citations (Scopus)
470 Downloads (Pure)


We investigated the experience and perspectives of menopause among 48 UK mothers through qualitative in-depth interviews. Interviews were analyzed thematically then explored using social science theories. Three interdependent narratives emerged: menopause as a normal, biological process, distinct from self and social transitions; menopause as struggle, an “idiom of distress” expressing upset, identity loss, shame, and social upheaval; and menopause as transformative and liberating, arising from biopsychic and relational changes. Some women followed a predictable “rite of passage” trajectory with transformation emerging from distress, but not all: Menopause arises from a complex interplay of personal predicament, somatic change, and sociocultural context.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-21
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Women and Aging
Early online date2 Nov 2017
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2 Nov 2017

Structured keywords

  • Centre for Surgical Research


  • Idiom of distress
  • in-depth interviews
  • menopause
  • qualitative research
  • rite of passage
  • transformation
  • UK
  • women’s health


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