From working with the growing body of menopause literature I have learned
you can find a convincing authority to support whatever your biases are.
Treatment biases cluster around two positions: first is that menopause is
an endocrine disorder like diabetes and should be treated like an illness,
second that menopause is a natural condition that happens to every woman who
lives long enough. When we find ourselves in menopause or perimenopause we
can become so paralyzed by the contradictions and choices that we don't even
know what our biases or preferences might be.
If you're not sure of your own biases ask yourself what you did or didn't
do about birth control, or about "natural" or "medicated" childbirth. Were you
happily on the pill or an IUD for fifteen years? If so you may be more
trusting of the medical profession's treatments. If not, you may be willing
to spend more time and effort searching out alternative practitioners and
treatments. If you experienced childbirth, how supported did you feel in
your choices of assistance during childbirth or doing it "naturally"?
The same groundswell of social, physical, and psychological inquiry and
support that promoted and responded to medical advances in birth control and
childbirth is exploding in the field of menopause. Women have more choices
than ever before and are taking more responsibility in making those choices.
I like to think of menopause treatment this way: our bodies are like a
rich, complex stew. To get that perfect flavor we need to adjust the heat, the
length of cooking time, and to balance the ingredients. It takes time,
experimentation, and patience. Prioritize your symptoms and work on
alleviating those at the top of the list. It isn't necessary to pick one
treatment that will serve all menopausal symptoms and aging needs
simultaneously and immediately. If we add the ingredients one at a time
we'll have a better idea what "tastes" and feels good and why.
BOOKS TO START WITH
(click cover or title to buy)
"Our Bodies, Ourselves: Menopause", by Boston
Women's Health Book Collective (Author), Vivian Pinn
Our Bodies, Ourselves: Menopause provides
an in-depth look at subjects such as hormone therapy,
sexuality, and stress, as well as proven strategies
for coping with challenges like hot flashes, mood swings,
and night sweats. In clear, accessible language, the
book dispels menopause myths and provides crucial information
that women can use to take control of their own health
and get the best care possible. Drawing from the experiences
of a diverse group of women, this book offers everything
a woman needs to make informed choices.
Wisdom of Menopause: Creating Physical and Emotional
Health and Healing During the Change", Christiane
Northrup, MD,(2001) Bantam, New York
If you're familiar with Dr. Northrup's "Women's Bodies,
Women's Wisdom", and her monthly newsletter "Health
Wisdom for Women" you will be right at home with the
personal style of this comprehensive menopause book
which deftly weaves traditional and alternative approaches
together. She's particularly frank about how her own
menopause journey signaled to her the need to end her
marriage. This critical dimension of how the menopausal
phase can powerfully impact a woman's relationships
and family life, is often absent or glossed over.
Susan Love's Hormone Book: Making Informed Choices About
Menopause", Susan M. Love, MD, with Karen Lindsey.(1997),
Random House, New York.
With her impeccable credentials in mainstream medicine,
and her feet in the "menopause is a natural condition"
camp, Love informs her readers about all aspects of
the symptoms, and risks of diseases that menopausal
women face. A useful questionnaire to help women tease
out what their biases and preferences are accompanies
a full range of traditional and alternative treatments.
Years: The Wise Woman Way; Alternative Approaches for
Women 30-90", Susun S. Weed Ash Tree Publishing,
Woodstock, New York 1992 (Revised version coming out
in July, 2001)
A menopausal book for a lifetime, Weed's bias is for
alternative treatments and either questions or advises
against traditional treatments. If you want to be talked
out of ERT/HRT get this book. You may not agree with
everything she espouses (argues against mammograms and
bone density tests) but you will find her approach both
spiritual and practical. This is a lifestyle bible and
an herbal encyclopedia.
"Menopause, Naturally: Preparing for the Second Half
of Life", Sadja Greenwood, M.D. (1996) Volcano Press,
A postmenopausal doctor and breast cancer survivor,
Greenwood doesn't oppose hormone therapy but encourages
healthy lifestyles with a minimum of medication. Easy
to read and whimsically illustrated, she devotes almost
half of it to lifestyle changes she dubs "Postmenopausal
Power of Perimenopause: A Woman's Guide to Physical
and Emotional Health During Books the Transitional Decade",
Stephanie DeGraff Bender, MA (1998), Three Rivers Press,
This book is written in a personal, anecdotal style
illustrating almost every topic with women from her
practice counseling perimenopausal and menopausal women.
The main feature of this book is it targets women in
their forties, an age group that usually doesn't think
of itself as "in menopause".
Pause: Positive Approaches to Menopause", Lonnie
Barbach, Ph.D (1994), Signet
A sensitive discussion of emotional aspects of menopause
from a woman who has been an authority on female and
male sexuality for close to thirty years.
"The Estrogen Decision: Self Help Book", Susan M.
Lark, M.D .(Third Edition, 1999),Celestial Arts, Berkeley,
While giving a fairly balanced report of the pros and
cons of ERT/HRT Lark spends two-thirds of the book on
alternatives, with a heavy emphasis on lifestyle changes.
These lifestyle changes include detailed charts, menus
and recipes for dietary changes, stress reduction techniques,
and yoga and accupressure positions.
Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Menopause: The Breakthrough
Book on Natural Progesterone", John R. Lee, M.D.
with Virginia Hopkins. (1996), Warner Books, New York.
When you've digested the other books on menopause you'll
be ready for this book which sings the virtues of progesterone.
It is very provocative and to the layperson sounds very
convincing. It is easier to evaluate this book and your
likelihood of following its advice once you've had some
experience with symptom management and begin to know
what works and feels good to you.