What Fresh Hell Is This? Perimenopause, Menopause, Other Indignities, and You

What Fresh Hell Is This?

What to Expect When You’re Not Expected to Expect Anything Anymore

“We rely on Heather Corinna for clear, funny, inclusive, and zero-nonsense writing about sex and sexuality and it’s no surprise they deliver again–brilliantly. What Fresh Hell Is This? contextualizes and investigates what we think we know about menopause before blowing our minds with a compendium of facts and observations that people facing menopause urgently need. A truly comprehensive, anti-shame, pro-embodiment resource for our time.”―S. Bear Bergman, author, publisher of Flamingo Rampant, advice columnist, general-duty trans pride activist

“★ (starred review) Remember Gen X? No? That’s fine, no one does. But hey, we’re out here, and we’re heading into midlife and its many crises. Good thing we have Heather Corinna with us along for the bumpy ride, like the whip-smart, sardonic friend you used to hang with at punk shows who’s now armed with a metric ton of hard-earned wisdom about the endocrine system, advice for vasomotor freakouts and edibles. A longtime champion of feminist health, Corinna has previously written books for teens and tweens about bodies, sexuality and relationships. Their new book, What Fresh Hell Is This?, is a brilliantly irreverent and disruptive addition to the menopause survival/triumph category. Corinna writes forthrightly about their own experience, describing it as “not great in the way that, say, the 2016 US presidential election was not great.” They put their activist mojo to use in a guide that argues forcefully for new thinking about perimenopause, with a lot of laughs—and comics and Mad Libs!—along the way. Game changed. – Susannah Felts, Bookpage

Heather Corinna Makes Menopause Accessible, Hilarious, and Queer AF… Come for the Victorian menopause psychoanalysis mad lib; stay for the ode to cooling pillows. Heather Corinna has gifted us the queer and trans-inclusive book about menopause you didn’t know you desperately need to read, with delightful illustrations by Archie Bongiovanni!” ―KaeLyn RichAutostraddle

From Heather Corinna (that’s me), who has spent the last two decades getting millions of adolescents around the world through the wholly unnecessary crucible puberty is made to be; who spent another bunch of years before that as an emotional doula for giant-sized toddler feelings, comes a guide to the menopausal transition that could only have been written while experiencing both perimenopause and a pandemic, and even then, barely. It’s time — bloodied (truly) and limping through this particular finish line together — for a journey through yet another unavoidable life passage. Buckle up.

Feminist, health-forward, and no b.s., it’s a guide to the menopausal transition that extends a sweaty hand and offers clear, straightforward information about our bodies, minds, lives and what in the actual fuck is going on with them during this time of hormonal mischief and mayhem.

Perimenopause and menopause experiences are as unique as all of us who move through them. While there’s no one-size-fits-all, What Fresh Hell Is This? (Hachette Go!) tells you what can happen and what you can do to take care of yourself, all the while busting pernicious myths, offering real self-care tips–the kind that won’t break the bank or your soul–and running the gamut from hot flashes to hormone therapy. With big tent, practical, clear information and support, inclusive of so many long been left out of the discussion—people with disabilities, queer, trans, nonbinary and other gender-diverse people, BIPOC, working class and other folks—Fresh Hell is the cooling pillow and empathetic best friend to help you through the fire.

Besides my own heated opinions (Do you see what I did there? Of course you did, because I don’t even have the shame to hide the most lethargic of my jokes anymore, I put them right out there for everybody), in Fresh Hell you’ll also hear from the wise, winsome and wonderful:

  • Mona Eltahawy
  • Kimberly Dark
  • Soraya Chemaly
  • Rebecca Scritchfield
  • Leela Sinha
  • s.e. smith
  • Hanne Blank
  • Sharon Lamb
  • kiran nigam
  • Joan Price
  • Omisade Burney-Scott
  • Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha
  • Joanne Mason, in an appendix by and for trans women and other AMAB folks about your versions of menopause
  • Maude and more (it’s not a cast of thousands, but if they hadn’t stopped me, it would have been)

Just in case all that didn’t have you dragging your tired tucas to your bookseller already, perhaps the Archie Bongiovanni comics, the mad libs, the romantic odes, not-drunk-histories-but-not-exactly-sober-histories-either and other shenanigans borne from great hormonal delirium will. And if you want this book because of all those other folks and that other stuff, or even in spite of, and not because of me, that’s okay, I understand. I’m not my favorite person right now, either. Just like if you want this book, chances are good you’re probably not yours.

“I have loved Heather Corinna’s work for twenty years, and What Fresh Hell Is This? is their best yet. This book feels like your best friend talking to you over drinks–if your best friend is a shit-talking, patriarchy-smashing, intersectionally feminist professor of the history of reproductive medicine and also an endocrinologist with a side hustle as a comedian. Please read this book.”―Emily Nagoski, PhDNew York Times bestselling author of Come As You Are

The Long-Overdue Inclusive Feminist Guide to Menopause: If you’re currently going through menopause, I think you’ll feel better after reading this book. If you haven’t found some useful tips to help manage symptoms and relationships, you’ll at least have found a kindred spirit and someone who’s cheering you on to the other side where, Corinna promises, things get better.”―Jera BrownRebellious Magazine

“What a relief—like a deep, calming exhale alongside a thunderous howl—to find this affirmation, information, solace, and nuanced and expansive guidance. What Fresh Hell Is This? joins the small, but growing canon of work that is freeing these normal human experiences from the confining constructions of patriarchy and white supremacy so that maybe when my daughter is perimenopausal, everything contained here be common knowledge.”―Mia Birdsongauthor of How We Show Up

“Perimenopause is like being in a car trying to drive with the handbrake on. There is nothing to do but sit with it, screeching and all. Heather Corinna has written an essential driver’s manual for that screeching car. Their book is like a beloved friend who reaches into the car and releases the handbrake for you. Drive! Go! Liberation lies ahead!” – Mona Eltahawy, author of The Seven Necessary Sins for Women and Girls

More raves for Fresh Hell!

“Sex educator Corinna (S.E.X.) offers a frank and funny guide for those who haven’t “exactly been having a great time with perimenopause.” Nearly two million people go into perimenopause each year in the United States, Corinna writes, yet most people are uneducated or ill-informed about it. To that end, Corinna lays out a quick historical overview (menopause was first mentioned in Western medical records around the 16th century, for example) before digging into the “when, why, how, where, and what the literal hell?” of menopausal transitions. Corinna covers hot flashes (featuring an ode to the cooling pillow), describes the hormonal science behind mood changes, gives a “lube pep talk,” and answers such questions as how long perimenopause lasts and when to “break up with” a health-care provider. Along the way, Corinna keeps things inclusive, spotlighting information for trans women and “other gender-diverse folks.” The author’s easy and encouraging approach is empowering, and humor is sprinkled throughout: “Perimenopause without realistic expectations or preparation can bear an embarrassing resemblance to the epically terrible movie Castaway.” Full of heart—and answers—this guide will be a useful resource for readers new to perimenopause. ” – Publishers Weekly

“In their latest look at gender, health, and sexuality, award-winning sex educator and self described “deeply perimenopausal” Corinna, who is nonbinary, switches from focusing on young people, as inS.E.X. (2007, 2016) and Wait, What?(2019), to adults… With humor, candor, and lots of facts, Corinna comes to the rescue, weaving personal experiences into lucid explanations of the science and social history of this time of life… Throughout, Corinna’s sassy personality and explicit language enliven their good, common sense advice for treating symptoms ranging from miserable to annoying. By addressing the needs of BIPOC, people with disabilities, queer, nonbinary, transgender, and other gender-diverse people, Corinna has created an invaluably informative and inclusive guide.”— Karen Springen, Booklist

The Long-Overdue Inclusive Feminist Guide to Menopause: What Fresh Hell is a hybrid history book with loads of cultural criticism and a guide for anyone in perimenopause using Corinna’s own experiences…This is a true feminist take on perimenopause which offers a deep-dive perspective not only about how our sexist, racist, ableist culture has shaped our understanding of it but also how to have control over one’s choices during it. And like any topic that has been long held hostage by patriarchal standards, a feminist take on menopause requires breaking down so many beliefs we didn’t even know we held and have accepted as true. Like the falsehoods: menopause is something you need to just endure, or hormone therapy is the only possible treatment, or that postmenopausal women have lost part of their womanhood or that that only women experience menopause.” – Jera Brown, Rebellious Magazine

Looking for the online version of the book’s resources section? It’s here!