What Fresh Hell is This?

Book cover of "What Fresh Hell Is This? Perimenopause, Menopause, Other Indignities, and You" by Heather Corinna. Black text over orange, yellow, red and white flames.

I just finished reading “What Fresh Hell is This? Perimenopause, Menopause, Other Indignities, And You” by Heather Corinna. I recommend it to anyone who has or has had a utero-ovarian system. It offers practical, supportive and kind advice for getting through perimenopause and menopause, grounded in science and feminism from a smart, witty, non-binary sex educator. 

Unlike so many books aimed at “women’s” health, this book makes a point of avoiding fat-shaming and ableism. It also explicitly avoids assuming that readers are white, middle-class, straight or cisgendered.

Corinna explains the hows and why of many things that happen during perimenopause and menopause, including vasomotor symptoms (aka hot flashes and night sweats), cognitive effects, chronic pain flares, changes to digestion, bleeding, sexuality and skin, and mood changes and mental health challenges. They also offer warmly practical advice for managing all these things (which, yes, includes acupuncture).

Much of the content in this book was familiar to me, but there were some surprises. I did not know that there is no way to definitively test whether someone is in perimenopause or not. (Such a bummer!)

I also didn’t know that the second-biggest risk group for eating disorders is people in menopause—they are very vulnerable to developing, continuing or relapsing into disordered eating. There is enormous pressure to maintain a youthful appearance and not appear like you’re in menopause. Of course diet culture preys upon people in menopause. (Thanks, FB and Insta, for the continual offer of a metabolic miracle plan to flatten the belly.)

A big thank you to Heather Corinna for writing about some of the most difficult times of their life, while still living through those difficult times.

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