cover image Blood: The Science, Medicine, and Mythology of Menstruation

Blood: The Science, Medicine, and Mythology of Menstruation

Jen Gunter. Citadel, $30 (560p) ISBN 978-0-8065-4068-9

Gynecologist Gunter (The Menopause Manifesto) delivers a superb overview of “the menstrual cycle and the medical conditions and therapies associated with” it. Delving into the science of periods, Gunter explains that “seven to 10 days after ovulation,” endometrium in the uterus fills “with storage sugars and lipids” to provide nourishment for potential embryos; if conception doesn’t occur, the endometrium is expelled and the process restarts. Patriarchal perspectives, Gunter contends, have dominated women’s healthcare for centuries (ancient Greek men viewed menstruation as “proof that women have troublesome physiology”), and women continue to be underserved by the medical research community, as evidenced by the fact that government-funded medical studies weren’t required to include women until 1993 and that the U.S. only spends about $2 per patient on endometriosis research per year, compared to $31.30 on diabetes, “which affects the same number of people.” Gunter is a sharp critic of the ways in which menstrual complications have been dismissed by the medical establishment (she notes that despite painful periods affecting a majority of women, they are often dismissed as “exaggerated and a sign of weakness” while “billions of dollars of funding” are showered on erectile dysfunction), and her talent for explicating the biology of periods will engage even the scientifically uninclined. Filled with piercing social analysis and enlightening science, this one’s a winner. Agent: Jill Marr, Sandra Dijkstra Literary. (Jan.)