Menopause in Three Parts: Where Rivers Flow, Split and Unravel

When Rivers Flow: “Menstrual blood came with its own set of messages, whispers from my womb space that only I could decode. It was like embarking on a treasure hunt within myself, armed with nothing but a compass made of intuition and a hefty dose of trial and error. Creating my own map of this internal landscape wasn’t easy. I had to channel my inner cartographer and chart new territories with each cycle.”

When Rivers Split: “There was something special about a bunch of Black women who had already been where I was calling me with joy in their voices. … forming a kinship with our wombs is about learning to love ourselves, to treat ourselves with the same grace, kindness and high regard that the world demands of us as Black people with wombs.”

When Rivers Unravel: “Menopause would be that queer initiation, that modern-day rite of passage I had so longed for. And it would come at a price. My transition initiated a second puberty that changed everything about my body. This rite of passage pried off the mask of societal expectations I had inherited from my foremothers. Menopause set the mask on fire.”

An Introduction to Catalonia’s Feminist Administration

For many decades, sexual and reproductive rights have been at the core of the global feminist struggle—but only an unapologetically feminist administration puts them at the center of the political agenda. Such is the progressive turn the government of Catalonia, an autonomous region in northeastern Spain, assumed in May 2021 when it created a Ministry of Equality and Feminisms.

In October 2021, this new ministry drafted the national strategy for sexual and reproductive rights. This was founded on the premise that the personal is political, so it must also be public policy. This strategy sought to guarantee the effective exercise of existing rights—particularly abortion, long-term contraception and sexuality education.

Many women are now asking: What about perimenopause, menopause and post-menopause?

The Terrifying Global Reach of the American Anti-Abortion Movement

When performed properly, abortion is considered extremely safe. But nearly half—45 percent—of the 73 million abortions performed worldwide each year are unsafe.

One big reason: American anti-abortion policies.

For decades, the U.S. has used the power of the purse to force poorer nations to abide by the anti-abortion values of American conservatives or forgo aid for family planning and other healthcare—giving women around the globe no alternative but to seek backstreet abortions that send some to emergency rooms and others to their graves.

Women Deserve Our ‘Menopause Moonshot.’ U.S. Policy Can Help.

Menopause is having its moment, so say daily news headlines. A new essay series in the medical journal The Lancet, published to coincide with International Women’s Day, argues all that hype—combined with “over-medicalization” and reliance on menopausal hormone therapy—harms women by framing menopause as a disease. But, in fact, the real disservice to women is the lack of consideration of menopause in the halls of government.

If we truly want to rise to the so-called moment for menopause, here is a policy agenda that can best serve us.

The Power of the Pen to Change the World

It’s a sunny day in Mikocheni, Tanzania. Sia Fred Towo clutches a bag of reusable sanitary pads in one hand, showcasing it to a group of women in a dusty yard with a look of seriousness and pride that rarely accompanies menstrual products. Towo is the director of Femme International, a nonprofit in East Africa, on a mission to break down global menstrual taboos. Towo is not only bringing period products to remote villages in Tanzania, she is bravely baring her own painful experiences in a borderless and ageless format: the op-ed.

Towo is one of six grassroots change leaders who are turning to the power of the pen to expose injustices and inspire change on a broad array of urgent issues—from climate change to education access. She joins courageous women from Afghanistan, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan and Peru who are writing op-eds about their personal experiences with these issues.

Why Menstrual Literacy Is Needed for a Working Democracy

According to Jennifer Weiss-Wolf, author and a leading advocate for menstrual equity in the U.S. (and executive director of partnerships and strategy for Ms.), the issue is inextricably tied to clashes over abortion and education. Trump’s statement makes the all too common assumption that weeks of pregnancy equates to time available to obtain an abortion. However, a 16-week pregnancy does not mean a person has been allowed four months to obtain an abortion. 

Before the Stopping Starts

As I got older, I began to understand that things will get weirder and weirder before your period stops—something every woman should know before the stopping starts.

Then something else will happen. You will begin to notice a large chunk of the world, nearly invisible until now: an army of cool, older women, the ones who have emerged on the other side and flourished. In their eyes you will catch a glimpse of the person you want to become. You will do away with pretense then, giving up whatever is keeping you from beginning to live the rest of your life. And this is where the flamenco dancing might come in.

The Ms. Q&A: Dr. Jen Gunter on Combatting Misinformation and Democratizing Knowledge on Women’s Health

Dr. Jen Gunter’s third book, BLOOD: The Science, Medicine, and Mythology of Menstruation, is an accessible look at the multiple ways that the patriarchal control of medicine has allowed misinformation about reproduction, sexuality and anatomy to flourish.

Ms. sat down with Gunter to discuss the book and how she hopes to “democratize knowledge and make a difference in people’s lives.”

Experts Concerned for Plight of Women and Children Civilians in Gaza

In a 15-2 ruling, the International Court of Justice (ICJ)—which is the U.N.’s high court—ordered Israel to do more to help civilians and to prevent acts of genocide against Palestinians in Gaza. The ICJ also ordered the immediate release of hostages taken by Hamas militants during the invasion of Israeli territory on Oct. 7.

U.N. Women recently released a report documenting the gendered impact of the crisis in Gaza. During the 100-plus days since the Oct. 7 attack, “women and girls make up the majority of those killed, wounded and displaced,” said U.N. Women executive director Sima Bahous. “Some 1 million women and girls are displaced in Gaza, two mothers killed every hour, while around 10,000 children have lost their fathers. … These are people, not numbers, and we are failing them. That failure, and the generational trauma inflicted on the Palestinian people over these 100 days and counting, will haunt us all for generations to come.”

Stop Stereotyping Black Girls: Offer Inclusive Sex Education in Schools

As of this fall, GOP leaders and lawmakers in over a dozen states have passed bans on teaching human sexuality or stymied federal grants aimed at addressing sexual behaviors and lowering rates of teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

While this negatively affects all children, it is particularly harmful for Black girls. Black adolescent girls in the United States experience poor sexual and reproductive health outcomes due to bullying and stereotyping. These health concerns persist throughout their lives and a lack of sex education is a key factor.