Well, hey there. I bid you a marginally-awake and so only semi-enthusiastic welcome to the online resource page for What Fresh Hell is This? Perimenopause, Menopause, Other Indignities and You.
Despite menopause being big freaking business right now, in this precise moment there is still barely anything specifically about peri/menopause (shorthand for perimenopause or other routes to or ways of experiencing menopause) that’s inclusive among some of the most basic of axes, like gender, body size or ability, neurodiversity, race and ethnicity, parity or economic class. It’s also still hard to find much that takes big things that impact many people and their experiences of menopause into account, like systemic bias, or unequal access to healthcare. A lot of the following resources are not specifically about peri/menopause because I’m holding out for resources that include and center more of us.
We may also gravitate toward, resonate with, or need other things that fortify us in this, not just peri/menopause-specific stuff, anyway. I’m talking about things that help us in specific areas of our lives where we might be struggling more during all this, or that address our bigger pictures, that help support and sustain us broadly, or that soothe or maybe even anesthetize us. Like resources about our community and culture, to help us connect with ourselves, our bodies, each other, words to keep us if not sane, still living, music to sweat and swear to, the company of our ancestors, community, silly stuff, and maybe even a little weird hooch that’s so barely hooch, you’re becoming that weird older relative in your family who always drank the cooking sherry, even when other, better things were available.
I’m a bookworm, so my booklists are the biggest here. I’ve linked all currently available books to Indiebound to help you support your local bookseller, and for those not still in print, to Powell’s Books when used copies are available through them.
Hello, I am old. Well, old enough that if it’s important, I think it deserves a mixtape…excuse me: a playlist. Whatever. Here are a few to throw shit across the room to, hitchhike outta your currently crappy life by or groove on inspired by select passages of Fresh Hell.
(at least) LGBTQIA+ inclusive peri/menopause online support groups
This is the leanest of lists, and, sadly, contains exactly zero groups specifically for folks experiencing menopause early or by way of illness, surgery or other medical treatment, for whom a majority of talk about menopause due to aging in a group can be understandably frustrating. Please drop me a line if you know of anything else or anything new comes up. Thanks!
General Peri/Menopause Information Sites
I’m afraid exactly none of these so far except for Tania’s list at the end are gender-neutral, and few of them are weight-neutral, mindful about things like ableism, cissexism, or heterocentricity (or even white supremacy). But this is a short list of at least a handful of places where a) you can get connected to a good deal of current and free online information about perimenopause and menopause via sources that aren’t trying to sell you anything.
Peri/Meno Podcasts, Instas & Other Media
As with informational resources, there still aren’t many particularly inclusive podcasts, Instagrams or other kinds of menopause media out and about, but here’s a small handful that either are, are pretty darn close, or that I know are at least working on becoming more inclusive. If you have created, do create, or know of more I’ve missed, please let me know!
- Queer Menopause: Tania Glyde’s site
- Black Girls Guide to Surviving Menopause, by Omisade Burney-Scott
- People Who Menstruate: First-person stories, including some menopause stories, from trans men, AFAB non-binary people and intersex people.
- HotflashInc by Ann Marie McQueen
- Jolinda Johnson: a LGBTQIA+ and BIPOC-centering perimenopause and burnout coach
- Menopause Whilst Black by Karen Arthur
- Also: the 2018 film Pause (Pafsi) by Tonia Mishiali, the fifth season of Pamela Adlon’s Better Things, and the 2021 film Barb and Star Go To Vista Del Mar is not about and doesn’t even mention menopause, yet is still somehow a menopausal Muppet movie except people are the muppets. I don’t know how they did it, but they did.
Some suggestions from the all-gender peri/menopause community and other related awesomeness:
Some of the amazing folks I talked to for my book not already linked above!
Lydia Pinkham Tonic recipes!
You can still get Lydia Pinkham’s Vegetable Compound (as mentioned on page 29), though it’s not as boozy as it once was. You’ll now find it as ” Lydia Pinkham’s Herbal Liquid Supplement,” and it’s effectively herbal bitters, or at least that’s how I decided to use it after I got my hands on some having followed my…erm, curiosity in my research.
Blackberry Mint Pinkham Shrub (this one’s mostly non-alcoholic)
- 1 cup blackberries
- 3/4 to 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup fresh mint leaves, torn (if you can’t do mint because of reflux, basil or sage will also work)
- 3/4 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 tsp. Lydia Pinkham’s Vegetable Compound*
Add the mint leaves and sugar to a bowl. Mash the berries and mint with a potato masher (or, if it’s been a bad day, with your very angry hands). Cover and refrigerate overnight, even if you yourself don’t actually sleep through it.
Strain through a mesh strainer or cheesecloth into a jar. Add the vinegar and Pinkham’s compound, a lid, and shake. To make a drink, one or two tablespoons of the syrup can be mixed with: club soda or sparking water over ice (the Pinkham’s is what gives this any alcohol: even the modern version has a teeny amount, so you can skip it to have a mocktail); gin, vodka or rye; or you can make a mimosa with champagne.
- 2 shots bourbon or rye
- 1/4 shot agave, simple syrup or vermouth
- ½ shot orange juice
- squeeze lemon juice
- a fresh clove or a pinch of ground cloves
- a dash of Lydia Pinkham’s
Add all the ingredients to a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake like your life depended on it, taking breaks as needed to shove the cold shaker in your shirt or under your belly. Strain into a chilled glass or your mouth, whichever. Garnish with an orange twist, cinnamon stick or fenugreek leaf.
Snake Oil Spiked Julep
- 8-10 mint leaves
- 1/2 shot agave or simple syrup
- 2 shots bourbon
- a dash of Lydia Pinkham’s
Muddle the mint and agave or syrup in your glass. Add the bourbon and the dash of Pinkham’s. Fill the glass with crushed ice (which you can get from the gas station or make yourself with a hammer, which can be quite satisfying and also scare people into staying the fuck away from you so you can enjoy your julep alone in peace) and stir until the glass gets frosty, adding more ice as you go until you reach the desired ratio of bourbon to ice/water. Plop another mint leaf on there, some more ice and you’re golden.
From the Book’s Resource Sections!
Some of my favorite menopause books and other related history found during my book research
- 1100s: The Trotula of Salerno
- 1800s: Lydia Pinkham and her vegetable compound (obviously)
- ~1934–1978: the unsung (mostly) feminist mass media of Maxine Davis
- 1973: Menopause: A Positive Approach, Rosetta Reitz
- 1975: Menstruation and Menopause: The Physiology and Psychology, the Myth and the Reality, Paula Weideger
- 2003: Age Ain’t Nothing but a Number: Black Women Explore Midlife, edited by Carleen Bryce
- 2003: The Black Woman’s Guide to Menopause, Carolyn Scott Brown
- 2006: Our Bodies, Ourselves: Menopause, Boston Women’s Health Collective
- 2010: Hot Flushes, Cold Science: A History of the Modern Menopause, Louise Foxcroft
- 2015: The Madwoman in the Volvo, Sandra Tsing Loh
- 2015: Pause, Mary Ruefle, Granta
- 2020: Menopause (a Comic Treatment), edited by MK Czerwiec
- 2021: How can therapists and other healthcare practitioners best support and validate their queer menopausal clients?, Tania Glyde, Sexual and Relationship Therapy
A Patriarchy Survival Kit
- 1973: The Portable Dorothy Parker
- 1984: Sister Outsider, Audre Lorde
- 1993: Stone Butch Blues, Leslie Feinberg
- 2006: Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity, Judith Butler
- 2007: Whipping Girl, Julia Serano
- 2015: This Bridge Called My Back: Writing by Radical Women of Color (fourth edition), edited by Cherríe L. Moraga and Gloria E. Anzaldúa
- 2015: Trauma and Recovery: The Aftermath of Violence—from Domestic Abuse to Political Terror, Judith Lewis Herman, MD
- 2016: We Were Feminists Once: From Riot Grrrl to CoverGirl®, the Buying and Selling of a Political Movement, Andi Zeisler
- 2017: Living a Feminist Life, Sara Ahmed
- 2019: Rage Becomes Her: The Power of Women’s Anger, Soraya Chemaly
- 2019: Down Girl, Kate Manne
- 2019: The Seven Necessary Sins for Women and Girls, Mona Eltahawy
- 2020: Life Isn’t Binary, Alex Iantaffi and Meg-John Barker
Balms for Diet Culture, Body Image, Movement, Sex, and Sexuality
- 2000: Still Doing It, Joani Blank
- 2011: Naked at Our Age: Talking Out Loud About Senior Sex, Joan Price
- 2013: Feminist, Queer, Crip, Alison Kafer
- 2014: Body Respect, Lindo Bacon, PhD, and Lucy Aphromor, PhD, RD
- 2015: Come as You Are (the Surprising New Science That Will Transform Your Sex Life), Emily Nagoski, PhD
- 2016: Body Kindness, Rebecca Scritchfield, RDN
- 2017: Every Body Yoga, Jessamyn Stanley
- 2017: How to Understand Your Gender: A Practical Guide for Exploring Who You Are, Alex Iantaffi and Meg-John Barker
- 2017: Unscrewed: Women, Sex, Power and How to Stop Letting the System Screw Us All, Jaclyn Friedman
- 2018: Hunger, Roxane Gay
- 2018: Queer Sex: A Trans and Non-binary Guide to Intimacy, Pleasure and Relationships, Juno Roche
- 2019: Fearing the Black Body: The Racial Origins of Fat Phobia, Sabrina Strings
- 2019: Fat, Pretty and Soon to Be Old: A Makeover for Self and Society, Kimberly Dark
- 2019: Pleasure Activism: The Politics of Feeling Good, written and gathered by adrienne maree brown
- 2020: A Quick and Easy Guide to Sex and Disability, A. Andrews
- 2020: Fitness for Everyone: 50 Exercises for Every Type of Body, Louise Green
- 2020: Magnificent Sex: Lessons from Extraordinary Lovers, Peggy Kleinplatz, PhD, and A. Dana Ménard, PhD
- 2020: Restorative Yoga for Ethnic and Race-Based Stress and Trauma, Gail Parker
- 2020: What We Don’t Talk About When We Talk About Fat, Aubrey Gordon
- 2020: Fat (Object Lessons), Hanne Blank
- 2021: Hell Yeah Self-Care! A Trauma-Informed Workbook, Meg-John Barker and Alex Iantaffi
- 2021: Every Body: An Honest and Open Look at Sex From Every Angle, Julia Rothman and Shaina Feinberg
- 2021: Pussypedia: A Comprehensive Guide, Zoe Mendelson and Maria Conejo
- 2021: The Body Is Not An Apology: The Power of Radical Self-Love, second edition, Sonya Renee Taylor
How to Gang Up with Each Other
- 1969–present: Our Bodies, Ourselves, Boston Women’s Health Collective
- 1987 (book) and 1991 (film): Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café, Fannie Flagg
- 1995: The Story of Jane, Laura Kaplan
- 1999: All About Love: New Visions, bell hooks
- 2014: Trans Bodies, Trans Selves, edited by Laura Erickson-Schroth
- 2018: Care Work: Dreaming Disability Justice, Leah Lakshmi Piepzna–Samarasinha
- 2018: Rewriting the Rules: An Anti Self-Help Guide to Love, Sex and Relationships, Meg John Barker
- 2019: I Hope We Choose Love: A Trans Girl’s Notes from the End of the World, Kai Cheng Thom
- 2019: Turn This World Inside Out: The Emergence of Nurturance Culture, Nora Samaran
- 2020: How We Show Up, Mia Birdsong
- 2020: Mutual Aid: Building Solidarity During This Crisis (and the Next), Dean Spade
- 2020: Disability Visibility: First-Person Stories from the Twenty-First Century, Alice Wong
- 2020: You Belong: A Call for Connection, Sebene Selassie
In Case of Life ’Splody
- 1969: I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Maya Angelou
- 1974: Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, Annie Dillard
- 1995 and 1998: The Parable of the Sower and The Parable of the Talents, Octavia Butler
- 2007: The Year of Magical Thinking, Joan Didion
- 2013: Wild, Cheryl Strayed
- 2016: When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times, Pema Chödrön
- 2017: Emergent Strategy: Shaping Change, Changing Worlds, adrienne maree brown
- 2017: Trainwreck: The Women We Love to Hate, Mock and Fear…and Why, Jude Ellison Sady Doyle
- 2017: Unfuck Your Brain: Getting over Anxiety, Depression, Anger, Freak-outs, and Triggers, Faith Harper, PhD, LPC-S, ACS, ACN
- 2019: Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle, Emily Nagoski, PhD, and Amelia Nagoski, PDA
- 2020: From Shitshow to Afterglow: Putting Life Back Together When It All Falls Apart, Ariel Meadow Stallings
- 2020: Too Happy to Be Sad Girl, Angel Aviles
Some rabbit holes I couldn’t fit or fit as fully in the book as I’d have liked but that you may want to explore because they are HOLES OF WONDER:
- the changes to taste and smell menopause can bring
- the placebo/nocebo effect
- the music of musicians in perimenopause and postmenopause: once you start looking (or rather, listening) you can’t not hear the differences and stop trying to spot them. It is a tremendously fun game, and also, just-barely postmenopausal albums are often AMAZING.
- the deeply unspoken prevalence of not just midlife, but specifically menopausal, suicide
- the newly emerging post-menopausal buddy movie/show (eg, Grace and Frankie, Wild Oats, Cloudburst, etc.)
- the seeming historical waves of menopausal literature
Health writing is always a bear because health information changes constantly, all the more so with something like menopause where so much is still emerging, and even more with menopause information for marginalized populations where we still barely have anything in the first place! I also wrote this book while in perimenopause, pandemic and other varieties of pandemonium, so errors or updates will for sure be finding themselves here as time passes.
- Page 17: Exene Cervenka is disappointingly not awesome right now and hasn’t been for a while, it seems. I am sad I did not know this before I included her in the list on page 17. Please replace her with your awesome postmenopausal punk icon of choice who is and remains punk af. If you’re open to suggestions, perhaps Grace Jones, Debbie Harry, Suzi Quatro or Joan Jett?
Do you not have this book?
And yet you found this page! Amazing! Do you want it? You can probably find it under someone’s sweaty armpit or another, but also in places like these:
Buy from Women & Children First Buy on Indiebound Buy on Amazon Buy on Barnes & Noble
Illustrations by the forever fabulous Archie Bongiovanni!