Many women are gripped by fear when the word ‘menopause’ has for the first time something to do with themselves. Up until ever so shortly before, it seems, it referred exclusively to ‘older women’, or to a category of women from whom they were still quite widely removed. And now? Is the feeling of being at ease-achieved not really so long ago-in the monthly rhythm of the cycle, its reassuring return, the fullness, the wetness, the sense of its advance, is all of that now to come to an end? Dryness, closure, stasis, shrinkage, decline: such images lame all thought. There is an age at which everything erotic and sexual begins to run the risk of seeming ridiculous. And positive images-for example, of older women who are cheerful, vital and creative-stand no chance against the chilling conviction, ‘you are now no longer what you used to be’.