Tinkering with hormonal bodies: Gynecological sensations in midlife

Research output: Contribution to conference without publisher/journalConference abstract for conferenceResearch


In Denmark, accelerated diagnostic practices, or what is often described as ‘early diagnosis’, have restructured the relationship between the primary healthcare system and the public, meaning people are increasingly encouraged to monitor their bodies for signs of potential (serious) illness. As increasing numbers of women use medically induced sex hormones, their monitoring of bodily signs happens in relation to a potentially changed natureculture body. In this work-in-progress paper, we explore how white Danish (cis)women in midlife attend to bodies affected by both ‘naturally’ occurring and medically induced sex hormones while navigating the blurred boundaries between illness and health.

The paper is based on extensive fieldwork in Denmark among (cis)women between the ages of 39 and 68. The fieldwork included interviews with 11 women with a gynecological cancer and 25 women with gynecological disturbances. Further, 6 of the women with gynecological disturbances were followed for 4-8 months, exploring their everyday embodied experiences and how they related to their reproductive organs.

Female sex hormones are part of the natureculture body; something which women are born with and which may be added to or removed from the body. We explore how the absence or presence of sex hormones are experienced as affecting the participants’ moods, physical appearances, and what their bodies feel like and what they do – bleed, dry up, sag, or itch. Sex hormones are therefore already implicated when women try to figure out whether their embodied sensations are signs of illness or not. While sex hormones already ‘naturally’ occur in the body, women also add to or remove sex hormones from their bodies in the form of hormonal contraception and/or hormone replacement therapies. These medical technologies enable sex hormones to be something to ‘tinker with’ to modify bodily experiences and to potentially alleviate unwanted sensations.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date21. Sept 2023
Publication statusPublished - 21. Sept 2023
EventSymptoms in Primary Care 2023: Interdisciplinary symptom symposium - Sommarøy, Tromsø, Norway
Duration: 21. Sept 202322. Sept 2023


ConferenceSymptoms in Primary Care 2023
Internet address


  • Sensations
  • Gynecology
  • symptom management
  • experimentation
  • hormones


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