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Article
September 1, 1989

The Curse: A Cultural History of Menstruation

Author Affiliations

Valley Center for Women's Health Sacramento, Calif

Valley Center for Women's Health Sacramento, Calif

JAMA. 1989;262(9):1251. doi:10.1001/jama.1989.03430090115053

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Abstract

Reexamining old assumptions can be a source of vitality and progress in the process of scientific inquiry. Undertaking rediscovery is perhaps most important for assumptions so long held and deeply embedded that their very existence is unsuspected, their specificity not articulated.

In this respect, The Curse: A Cultural History of Menstruation is an extremely important work. Delaney, Lupton, and Toth offer pioneering scholarship as they explore an extraordinary range of hidden assumptions and attitudes about menstruation. Menstrual periods underscore approximately one fourth of the life experience of (young) adult women. The fact that this process has remained so long shrouded, unmentionable, and substantially ignored even in scientific inquiry or medicine is a measure of the power of the taboos the authors describe.

The Curse first appeared in 1976 and has been revised and expanded to include new material from the last decade (including a tiny bit of progress in reducing

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