Identity & Body Image Life Transitions

Women experience many hormonal changes throughout their lives. These range from daily fluctuations and monthly cycles to significant life transitions, such as puberty, pregnancy, childbirth, and menopause. There is a long history of medical research investigating these changes to a woman’s body.

Hippocrates hypothesised that a woman’s womb moves around her body causing the condition he named ‘hysteria’ (meaning Uterus in Greek). Today, modern medicine has a more informed view of the changes that occur to a woman’s body. However, these changes are accompanied by new demands that involve adaptation and coping  and our understanding of the psychological processes involved with these transitions is still relatively limited .

Puberty and pregnancy are transitions usually associated with positive transformations and outcomes. In contrast, menopause is thought to produce negative changes as women are stereotyped as becoming depressed, ill and sexually unappealing. Menopause represents the change from a woman’s fertile to non-fertile period, and can be perceived as the transition from a younger to older adult.

Similar to the other hormone-related life transitions , this bodily change can impact how a woman thinks and feels about herself and her body, and potentially influence health-related and social behaviours, and quality of life as a result.

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