There’s more to menopause than you think

The Wisdom of Menopause is essential reading for every woman nearing menopause. Whether you are just on the approach to this stage of life or are deep in the throes of chaotic bleeding, hot flushes or night sweats. It’s also invaluable for post-menopausal women who struggled with the change. If this is you, it will enable you to look retrospectively at what happened and to understand why.

Convention has it that the menopause phase begins when our periods and menstrual cycles start to change. This might be heavier or lighter bleeding, more frequent periods, or skipping one or more. However, as Christiane eloquently explains, there is far more to it than that.

First signs

The first signs can begin several years before physical changes with subtle shifts in our thoughts and emotions. You may find you’re less patient, really need time and space to yourself and start questioning what you are doing with your life. If you’ve ever wondered “What the hell is going on with my hormones?” then Christiane will answer that for you.  If you’re not sure where you brain has gone, she’ll also answer that.

A new beginning

The slowly-changing cultural backdrop we live in is that menopause is the beginning of the end of a woman’s life. Christiane makes it perfectly clear that this is simply untrue. With life expectancy for Western women now being eighty-something, we have at least thirty more years of life to look forward to.

By warmly and openly sharing her own experiences and plenty of stories from other women she shows there is hope on the other side of the turmoil.

There is no denying that this is an extremely unsettling stage in life for some women. She reassures us that this is normal. Our brains are re-wired and the way in which we relate to ourselves, others and the world can shift dramatically. It’s a transformative process in which our lives to-date are re-evaluated. Parts of them may fall away and be replaced by a new direction.

“The woman in menopause, who is becoming the queen of herself, finds herself at a crossroads of life, torn between the old way she has always known and a new way she has just begun to dream of. A voice from the old way … begs her to stay in place … But from the new path another voice beckons, imploring her to explore aspects of herself that have been dormant during her years of caring for others and focusing on their needs.”  – Christiane Northrup

Life and health advice

This book is wide in its breadth covering all aspects of our lives. It looks at our own power, relationships of all kinds, money, work, children and no children. There’s information and options for all the health issues that may arise at this time of life, including heavy bleeding, fibroids, urinary stress incontinence, poor sleep and breast cancer.

Christiane disentangles fact from fiction by explaining which are related to menopause and which are not.

She debunks the myth that ageing is inevitable. Many of the declines we associate with getting older are nothing of the sort and can be avoided.

Advice is given on maintaining a happy sex life, and reducing the risks of osteoporosis, heart disease and Alzheimer’s in later life.

Truly holistic

Christiane is one of those rare and precious teachers who genuinely advises holistically. Many teachers cover either Western or Eastern approaches yet neither extreme holds the answers. The Western approach treats our body in separate parts and solely as a machine. The Eastern traditions were developed for other cultures and another time. So can quite often be unhelpful for our lifestyles and psyches in the west in the twenty first century.

Being a fully trained and experienced medical doctor, Christiane understands Western medicine. She explains fully the benefits and risks of pharmaceutical drugs (including Hormone Replacement Therapy) and surgery, like hysterectomy.

Yet she also knows that health is about more than individual parts of our anatomy functioning well.  She has long-since been aware of the importance of movement and exercise, healthy eating and supplements. She understands the intimate connection between our minds and emotions and our physical health so brings in psychotherapy. She knows the value of the Eastern approach that our bodies are partly energy so she covers energy medicine too – disease can result when it’s not flowing properly.

In writing The Wisdom of Menopause Christiane presents robust, clear information on almost all options to enable women to make a fully informed decision. (The main therapy that strikes me as absent is homeopathy. You will need to look elsewhere for information on that, or better still, consult a qualified homeopath.)

Be aware of these

Every author (indeed every human being) can only write from their own perspective. Christiane was a Baby Boomer whereas I am a Generation Xer. Personally I couldn’t relate to some of her experiences. Because thankfully her generation had already changed them for the better by the time my generation came along. This does not detract from the usefulness of the book as the same principles that applied to her, apply to all generations.

The Wisdom of Menopause was last updated in 2012. The world of science moves so fast that some of the studies about the available options have been superseded by more recent research (e.g. hormone replacement therapy). As Christiane is based in the United States, information covers what’s available there, which may be different to other countries. This is easily fixed by an internet search of reliable websites to find out the latest facts and what is available where you live. Or you can check with an unbiased health professional, preferably one who specialises in the menopause.

You’ll love this

If you love understanding how the body works, then this book will fascinate you. Christiane explains scientific research in plain English. If you don’t like this level of detail you can easily skip over it and you will still find the book invaluable.

You’ll love this book if you are looking for support for your menopause. It will enable you to weigh up the pros and cons of the options available. It will inspire you to do the many things that you can do to help yourself.

It will also suit you if want reassurance that the physical, mental or emotional chaos you are going through is a normal part of this transition phase. And that it will end.

Always writing with realism and compassion, Christiane will provide you with a multitude of ways to navigate through the difficulties. She shows you how to come out the other side, not only healthy and well, but thriving.