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Hormonal: A Conversation About Women's Bodies, Mental Health and Why We Need to Be Heard

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Hormonal is a familiar label for any woman exhibiting less than maximum self-control. Eleanor Morgan dismantles the stubborn taboos that exist surrounding women and their health-rejecting the idea that female bodies are mysterious, unknowable, and most importantly, in need of constant surveillance lest they go awry. Morgan rigorously investigates the modern landscape of wo Hormonal is a familiar label for any woman exhibiting less than maximum self-control. Eleanor Morgan dismantles the stubborn taboos that exist surrounding women and their health-rejecting the idea that female bodies are mysterious, unknowable, and most importantly, in need of constant surveillance lest they go awry. Morgan rigorously investigates the modern landscape of women and health, from contraception to PMS, anxiety and depression, examining the relationship between our bodies and what goes on inside them over the course of our reproductive lives, our biochemistry, and our psychological wellbeing. With refreshing frankness, Morgan connects the historical stigma of the 'hysterical' woman to the edicts of the medical establishment, the #MeToo movement and more, detailing how women's pain is still systematically dismissed and coded by men. She advocates for more openness and more questioning of the systems that dictate how women inhabit their bodies and the language we use to talk about ourselves, examining why so much stigma and misinformation still exists and how we can learn to accept ourselves as we are. 'A powerful and beautifully written account of Morgan's experiences with anxiety and depression . . . courageous and compelling' Guardian on Anxiety for Beginners


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Hormonal is a familiar label for any woman exhibiting less than maximum self-control. Eleanor Morgan dismantles the stubborn taboos that exist surrounding women and their health-rejecting the idea that female bodies are mysterious, unknowable, and most importantly, in need of constant surveillance lest they go awry. Morgan rigorously investigates the modern landscape of wo Hormonal is a familiar label for any woman exhibiting less than maximum self-control. Eleanor Morgan dismantles the stubborn taboos that exist surrounding women and their health-rejecting the idea that female bodies are mysterious, unknowable, and most importantly, in need of constant surveillance lest they go awry. Morgan rigorously investigates the modern landscape of women and health, from contraception to PMS, anxiety and depression, examining the relationship between our bodies and what goes on inside them over the course of our reproductive lives, our biochemistry, and our psychological wellbeing. With refreshing frankness, Morgan connects the historical stigma of the 'hysterical' woman to the edicts of the medical establishment, the #MeToo movement and more, detailing how women's pain is still systematically dismissed and coded by men. She advocates for more openness and more questioning of the systems that dictate how women inhabit their bodies and the language we use to talk about ourselves, examining why so much stigma and misinformation still exists and how we can learn to accept ourselves as we are. 'A powerful and beautifully written account of Morgan's experiences with anxiety and depression . . . courageous and compelling' Guardian on Anxiety for Beginners

30 review for Hormonal: A Conversation About Women's Bodies, Mental Health and Why We Need to Be Heard

  1. 5 out of 5

    Sadhbh O'Sullivan

    My only criticism of this deeply researched and informative book is that there is no acknowledgement that it is written entirely for and about cis women and their experience. This isn’t to say that it isn’t important ! I’m a cis woman who learned so much about how I interpret my own mind and pain and mental health from this book, but I think that it does the book a disservice to not at least acknowledge in the beginning that this is about cis women only. The relationship trans women, trans men a My only criticism of this deeply researched and informative book is that there is no acknowledgement that it is written entirely for and about cis women and their experience. This isn’t to say that it isn’t important ! I’m a cis woman who learned so much about how I interpret my own mind and pain and mental health from this book, but I think that it does the book a disservice to not at least acknowledge in the beginning that this is about cis women only. The relationship trans women, trans men and non binary people will have with hormones is worth a book in itself so it’s not that I think it should have been covered extensively in this book - but talking about womanhood solely in terms of uterine reproductive systems is biological essentialism which this book otherwise demonstrates to be a sweeping generalisation of human experience! Even a quick disclaimer at the beginning would have helped. Other than that I really really enjoyed this book. I mention the above not to necessarily dismiss it because I think it would be such a great and educational read for so many, but because I think it may be dismissed for not doing so. Which would be a huge shame.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Tilly

    5 stars This book was gifted in exchange for an honest review. Eleanor Morgan's "Hormonal" is "a conversation about women's bodies, mental health and why we need to be heard". It is an intelligent, witty and informative read and I found myself bursting out in laughter as well as holding back the tears. As a woman that has suffered from chronic illness, including endometriosis for 15 years, this book was always going to speak to me. What surprised me was how much I learned about a subject that I t 5 stars This book was gifted in exchange for an honest review. Eleanor Morgan's "Hormonal" is "a conversation about women's bodies, mental health and why we need to be heard". It is an intelligent, witty and informative read and I found myself bursting out in laughter as well as holding back the tears. As a woman that has suffered from chronic illness, including endometriosis for 15 years, this book was always going to speak to me. What surprised me was how much I learned about a subject that I thought I knew well.  There is in-depth information on the menstrual cycle, history of the physical and mental health of women, different illnesses and conditions along with a unique look into the author's own journey. I learnt a great deal...I have suffered with severe menstrual cramps and endometriosis pain since my periods began, how is it that I never knew the biological cause of them until now?! I have always been shocked at the way I and many other women have been treated by the medical community. Seeing the statistics in this book made my blood boil. "Women's pain - physical or emotional; as if the two can be extricate - has been minimised and dismissed for centuries". Morgan tells us about studies that show how doctors under-treat female patients. In emergency departments worldwide, women are a shocking "13 to 25% less likely to be given opiate painkillers". Our pain is simply not believed. This information would have floored me if I hadn't lived through it over and over again the last 15 years. This book is a 5 star read and in my opinion every woman needs to read it, especially women with endometriosis, PCOS, PMS and other gynaecological or hormone related conditions.  As Morgan states, "there is power in knowing ourselves better" and there is also power in knowing how badly women worldwide are being medically failed.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Alma Ha

    A disappointing read. It just didn't deliver enough pop medical knowledge I hoped. Instead, at some points it looked like a couple of google reviews of different clinics stringed together. Stylistically, some passages read like a paper written in high school. A disappointing read. It just didn't deliver enough pop medical knowledge I hoped. Instead, at some points it looked like a couple of google reviews of different clinics stringed together. Stylistically, some passages read like a paper written in high school.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Hannah

    3.5

  5. 5 out of 5

    Beulah

    An interesting overview of the history of hormones and the author's journey to understanding why her own hormones seem to be out to get her. I particularly enjoyed the Ancient Greek's theories about how women's bodies work, although was also locked in a full-body cringe throughout that chapter. An interesting overview of the history of hormones and the author's journey to understanding why her own hormones seem to be out to get her. I particularly enjoyed the Ancient Greek's theories about how women's bodies work, although was also locked in a full-body cringe throughout that chapter.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Louise

    This is a book that looks at the intersection between female bodies, mental health and how women’s pain is minimised by the medical establishment. This is a interesting book and was certainly anger making in parts, reading the examples of the ways female pain and women’s medical needs have been dismissed or overlooked. However, this book does have one factor which is a personal pet hate. That is assume a stance of research and facts, but then have a lot of first person narrative and light exampl This is a book that looks at the intersection between female bodies, mental health and how women’s pain is minimised by the medical establishment. This is a interesting book and was certainly anger making in parts, reading the examples of the ways female pain and women’s medical needs have been dismissed or overlooked. However, this book does have one factor which is a personal pet hate. That is assume a stance of research and facts, but then have a lot of first person narrative and light examples. There are a couple of instances where the author says that she googled xyz. However this is a small element of the book. Overall, this is an interesting read and would be a good intro to the topic for anyone interested in these issues.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Martha Bereza

    Книга зовсім не про те, про що виглядає. Про гормони так би мовити тільки один чи два розділи. І то важко довіряти авторці, адже вона не лікар. Тому навіть та інформація така як з гуглу. Інша частина книга про її власні проблеми пов'язані з місячними і плач про те, що її не розуміли навіть лікарі. Мені її звісно шкода, але читати про це цілу книгу таке собі задоволення. Моменти возвеличення вагіни і всіх жіночих штучок це взагалі... Книга зовсім не про те, про що виглядає. Про гормони так би мовити тільки один чи два розділи. І то важко довіряти авторці, адже вона не лікар. Тому навіть та інформація така як з гуглу. Інша частина книга про її власні проблеми пов'язані з місячними і плач про те, що її не розуміли навіть лікарі. Мені її звісно шкода, але читати про це цілу книгу таке собі задоволення. Моменти возвеличення вагіни і всіх жіночих штучок це взагалі...

  8. 4 out of 5

    Iris

    Interesting book filled with both science and anecdotes that taught me a lot about how my body works and how female bodies and emotions have been viewed by throughout history. Something I missed in the book was more inclusive language.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Hannah

    4.5 stars. Wasn't what I was expecting but definitely thought provoking. The only real criticism I can make is that that some women may come away from reading this and assume that all standard HRT is equine -derived, which is far from the case. Overall, however, would recommend. 4.5 stars. Wasn't what I was expecting but definitely thought provoking. The only real criticism I can make is that that some women may come away from reading this and assume that all standard HRT is equine -derived, which is far from the case. Overall, however, would recommend.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Shannon

    This book is an incredible informative and life changing read! I have never learnt so much about the female body and my own issues with it until I read this. Cannot recommend enough!!

  11. 4 out of 5

    Radiya

    Really insightful book into how our bodies work, so glad I read this

  12. 4 out of 5

    Gem

    Morgan put forward some interesting thoughts, however I did not feel as though she backed up her points enough to sway my own views.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Geneviève (thefreckledbookworm)

    "The stigma surrounding female reproduction processes is still alive and well [...] otherwise, we wouldn't be feeling that crack of relief when someone else starts talking about periods. The reality of birth, miscarriage or menopause." Why is it considered so wrong to talk about this? I was at a restaurant with my bff @borealsunshine the other day, and we were talking about sex and vaginas and ooooh dear, did we ever get the stink eye from an old lady nearby 😂 vaginas and uteruses go right under "The stigma surrounding female reproduction processes is still alive and well [...] otherwise, we wouldn't be feeling that crack of relief when someone else starts talking about periods. The reality of birth, miscarriage or menopause." Why is it considered so wrong to talk about this? I was at a restaurant with my bff @borealsunshine the other day, and we were talking about sex and vaginas and ooooh dear, did we ever get the stink eye from an old lady nearby 😂 vaginas and uteruses go right under #unflatteringfacts, but WHY? I hope that in time we can change this view, and also change the way the healthcare system treats women (also, a woman's period SHOULD be treated as a vital sign, because our cycles' behavior is a very important indicator of what's going on in our bodies) As mentioned in this book, why is a woman's pain always played down, while a man's pain is taken more seriously? As the author wrote, "we're always told it's because of our hormones. But it can't always be because of my womb? Men have hormones too." But when they've got too much testosterone, we justify their violent outbursts by "boys will be boys". This book also talks about women with severe premenstrual dysphoric disorder for whom the only option left to relieve their pain is complete removal of their uterus. The doctors often refuse, because as the author wrote, "they cannot fathom how I would want to remove my ability to get pregnant, without even asking if I wanted to have children. I was told that I couldn't be sure." Like she wrote, this goes right back to women as birthing machines. "Why would a women consider undergoing such a big surgery if she wasn't in hell every month? Why would her ability to realise her potential as a woman eclipse her state of health and of mind. Why would her ability to procreate trump everything. Why can a woman not be trusted not to change her mind." This book is everything, and more. 5⭐

  14. 5 out of 5

    Andy

    Full of interesting ideas about the intersections of biology and society. At its best, I thought, when discussing the mechanics of menstruation and those mechanics’ meshing with lived experience and social expectations, and when surveying the scientific literature around what constitutes ‘mental illness’. At its weakest when in ‘righteous assertion’ mode about sexual politics/history, and when switching into a jokey mode. One of the central themes for me here is the mismatch between what we now k Full of interesting ideas about the intersections of biology and society. At its best, I thought, when discussing the mechanics of menstruation and those mechanics’ meshing with lived experience and social expectations, and when surveying the scientific literature around what constitutes ‘mental illness’. At its weakest when in ‘righteous assertion’ mode about sexual politics/history, and when switching into a jokey mode. One of the central themes for me here is the mismatch between what we now know about the complexity/variability/idiosyncrasy of the (neuro)biology/endocrinology of individual experience and the social expectations/norms that have been embedded in (Western) culture - the lag of social/institutional norms when compared with scientific understanding. Another key theme is the question of what is ‘normal’? How can we truthfully define that now that we know how complex the parameters are, and how involved the interplay of biology, society, experience? Overall, a really interesting read that leaves me with lots of questions to think about and a whole new range of uncertainties to ponder.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Rabbithole Blogger

    This book has everything that would would interest me.... feminism, mental health and PMS. It was an interesting read that surprised me with how much I learned about a subject I thought that I knew well. I mean, I have been a woman... my whole life! It focuses on the intersections of biology and society -- how female-specific problems are treated by the healthcare establishment and links it to misogynistic ideas and practices from history. The word hysteria originates from the Greek word “uterus, This book has everything that would would interest me.... feminism, mental health and PMS. It was an interesting read that surprised me with how much I learned about a subject I thought that I knew well. I mean, I have been a woman... my whole life! It focuses on the intersections of biology and society -- how female-specific problems are treated by the healthcare establishment and links it to misogynistic ideas and practices from history. The word hysteria originates from the Greek word “uterus,” hystera and is based on the Ancient Greek's theories about the wandering uterus being the cause of emotional or behavioral 'problems', but the ways to 'coax' it back to position were.... well... wow. There is in-depth information on the menstrual cycle, history of the physical and mental health of women, different illnesses and conditions along with a unique look into the author's own journey, however the science does not get too complex for it to bewilder anyone without a science background. Definitely worth taking some time to read. For more of my reviews check out my site HERE

  16. 5 out of 5

    Agnès

    This is about hormones and everything around them, yes. But is way more and the title doesn't do it justice. There is feminism, mental health, PMS and more. It was a good read, informative and thought provoking. I don't give 5 star since I wasn't expecting to be about what it actually is about, and because last chapter is all about the writter and maybe, although interesting, would 've been better to be spread around all chapters instead. This is about hormones and everything around them, yes. But is way more and the title doesn't do it justice. There is feminism, mental health, PMS and more. It was a good read, informative and thought provoking. I don't give 5 star since I wasn't expecting to be about what it actually is about, and because last chapter is all about the writter and maybe, although interesting, would 've been better to be spread around all chapters instead.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Ffion

    When I read that the author worked for Vice, I could see that in the writing of this book. Very informative and quick moving with frequent references to sources. Morgan tells you about how female-specific problems are treated by the healthcare establishment and links it to misogynistic ideas and practices from history. There's a fairly strong focus on the biology of menstruation and other functions of the female body, however the science does not get too complex for it to bewilder anyone without When I read that the author worked for Vice, I could see that in the writing of this book. Very informative and quick moving with frequent references to sources. Morgan tells you about how female-specific problems are treated by the healthcare establishment and links it to misogynistic ideas and practices from history. There's a fairly strong focus on the biology of menstruation and other functions of the female body, however the science does not get too complex for it to bewilder anyone without a science background. A worthwhile read if you have ever wanted to know more about your bodily functions and how they can effect your mood, and you wish to learn more and the historic and cultural factors that may influence your treatment.

  18. 4 out of 5

    my bookworm life

    I was very kindly sent a copy of this book from the publishers, but as always all opinions are my own! If i could recommend any book to women it would be this one! , this is an absolute must read and one that will not only open your eyes to so many things but just empower and uplift you too! This was such an interesting read from start to finish , and i just loved the writing!, it was so easy to read and just explains everything so brilliantly. This book really does cover everything! from puberty t I was very kindly sent a copy of this book from the publishers, but as always all opinions are my own! If i could recommend any book to women it would be this one! , this is an absolute must read and one that will not only open your eyes to so many things but just empower and uplift you too! This was such an interesting read from start to finish , and i just loved the writing!, it was so easy to read and just explains everything so brilliantly. This book really does cover everything! from puberty to periods , PMS and mental health and Sex to births! it's like the female handbook and i thought it was brilliant.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Molly

    I thought this was a well researched and well written book with one big flaw, it only acknowledged cis women. Time and time again the author discussed womanhood and the “female body” from the perspective of a cis woman.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Kirsty Clarke

    An interesting essay, that is thought provoking and informative. It is enjoyable and well written but not one I would leap at recommending to a friend

  21. 5 out of 5

    Raavi

    Must read for men and woman alike! Writing itself is disturbingly bad but the narrative and content is worth it.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Westcountry Book Wyrm

  23. 5 out of 5

    Kirstie

  24. 5 out of 5

    Ellie Jane

  25. 4 out of 5

    Thom

  26. 5 out of 5

    Kaja

  27. 4 out of 5

    Charlotte

  28. 4 out of 5

    Liz

  29. 5 out of 5

    Mima

  30. 4 out of 5

    Sophia

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