Despite increasing representation of older women in US jail and prison facilities, their menopause experiences and access to related care remain uncharacterized. Our objective is to explore the menopause experiences of women incarcerated in jail and prison facilities.
We conducted a pilot study of four semi-structured in-depth interviews with women in the community who experienced menopause symptoms while incarcerated in either a prison or jail facility.
Preliminary findings suggest critical gaps in access to menopause-related resources and medical care. Participants described that lifestyle and medical interventions for menopause in prison were inaccessible, and that untreated symptoms contributed to significant distress. Participants reported feeling as though medical staff did not believe their concerns and were dismissive of their complaints. In some cases, menopause symptoms and symptom management exacerbated the ways in which institutional barriers reproduce criminalization within the carceral system.
Individuals going through the menopause transition while experiencing incarceration have significant unmet needs and poor access to relieving lifestyle changes or medical interventions. Policy and practice changes should address menopause-related needs of individuals experiencing incarceration.