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Dr. Christiane Northrup destroys myths and challenges convention. Now in her groundbreaking new book, The Wisdom of Menopause, she will forever change your views on menopause. Filled with remarkable new health choices, research, and Dr. Northrup’s own candid personal experience, The Wisdom of Menopause is the ultimate guide for every ...
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Dr. Christiane Northrup destroys myths and challenges convention. Now in her groundbreaking new book, The Wisdom of Menopause, she will forever change your views on menopause. Filled with remarkable new health choices, research, and Dr. Northrup’s own candid personal experience, The Wisdom of Menopause is the ultimate guide for every woman ready to come into her own.
It is no secret that relationship crises are a common side effect of menopause. Usually this is attributed to the crazy-making effects of the hormonal shifts occurring in a woman's body at this time of transition. What is rarely acknowledged or understood is that as these hormone-driven changes affect the brain, they give a woman a sharper eye for inequity and injustice, and a voice that insists on speaking up about them. In other words, they give her a kind of wisdom -- and the courage to voice it. As the vision-obscuring veil created by the hormones of reproduction begins to lift, a woman's youthful fire and spirit are often rekindled, together with long-sublimated desires and creative drives. Midlife fuels those drives with a volcanic energy that demands an outlet.
If it does not find an outlet -- if the woman remains silent for the sake of keeping the peace at home and/or work, or if she holds herself back from pursuing her creative urges -- the result is equivalent to plugging the vent on a pressure cooker: Something has to give. Very often what gives is the woman's health, and the result will be one or more of the "big three" diseases of postmenopausal women: heart disease, depression, and breast cancer. On the other hand, for those of us who choose to honor the body's wisdom and to express what lies within us, it's a good idea to get ready for some boat rocking, which may put long-established relationships in upheaval. Marriage is not immune to this effect.
"Not Me, My Marriage Is Fine"
Every marriage, even a very good one, must undergo change in order to keep up with the hormone-driven rewiring of a woman's brain during the years leading up to and including menopause. Not all marriages are able to survive these changes. Mine wasn't, and nobody was more surprised about that than I.
If this makes you want to hide your head in the sand, believe me, I do understand. But for the sake of being true to yourself and protecting your emotional and physical health in the second half of your life (likely a full forty years or more) then I submit to you that forging ahead and taking a good hard look at all aspects of your relationship (including some previously untouchable corners of your marriage) may be the only choice that will work in your best interest in the long run, physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
From the standpoint of physical health, for example, there is plenty of evidence to suggest that the increase in life-threatening illnesses after midlife, which cannot be accounted for by aging alone, is partly rooted in the stresses and unresolved relationship problems that simmered beneath the surface during the childbearing years of a woman's life, then bubbled up and boiled over at perimenopause, only to be damped down in the name of maintaining the status quo. The health of your significant other is also at stake. Remaining in a relationship that was tailor-made for a couple of twenty-somethings without making the necessary adjustments for who you both have become at midlife can be just as big a health risk for him as it is for you.
This is not to say that your only options are divorce or heart attack. Rather, in order to bring your relationship into alignment with your rewired brain, you and your significant other must be willing to take the time, and spend the energy, to resolve old issues and set new ground rules for the years that lie ahead. If you can do this, then your relationship will help you to thrive in the second half of your life. If one or both of you cannot or will not, then both health and happiness may be at risk if you stay together.
Preparing for Transformation
At midlife, more psychic energy becomes available to us than at any time since adolescence. If we strive to work in active partnership with that organic energy, trusting it to help us uncover the unconscious and self-destructive beliefs about ourselves that have held us back from what we could become, then we will find that we have access to everything we need to reinvent ourselves as healthier, more resilient women, ready to move joyfully into the second half of our lives.
This process of transformation can only succeed, however, if we become proactive in two ways. First, we must be willing to take full responsibility for our share of the problems in our lives. It takes great courage to admit our own contributions to the things that have gone wrong for us and to stop seeing ourselves simply as victims of someone or something outside of ourselves. After all, the person in the victim role tends to get all the sympathy and to assume the high road morally, which is appealing; none of us wants to feel like the bad guy. But even though taking the victim role may seem a good choice in the short run, this stance is ultimately devoid of any power to help us change, heal, grow, and move on.
The second requirement for transformation is more difficult by far: We must be willing to feel the pain of loss and grieve for those parts of our lives that we are leaving behind. And that includes our fantasies of how our lives could have been different if only. Facing up to such loss is rarely easy, and that is why so many of us resist change in general and at midlife in particular. A part of us rationalizes, "Why rock the boat? I'm halfway finished with my life. Wouldn't it just be easier to accept what I have rather than risk the unknown?"
The end of any significant relationship, or any major phase of our lives, even one that has made us unhappy or held us back from our full growth and fulfillment, feels like a death -- pure and simple. To move past it, we have to feel the sadness of that loss and grieve fully for what might have been and now will never be.
And then we must pick ourselves up and move toward the unknown. All our deepest fears are likely to surface as we find ourselves facing the uncertainty of the future. During my own perimenopausal life changes, I would learn this in spades -- much to my surprise.
By the time I was approaching menopause, I had worked with scores of women who had gone through midlife "cleansings"; I had guided and counseled them as their children left home, their parents got sick, their marriages ended, their husbands fell ill or died, they themselves became ill, their jobs ended -- in short, as they went through all the storms and crises of midlife.
But I never thought I would face a crisis in my marriage. I had always felt somewhat smug, secure in my belief that I was married to the man of my dreams, the one with whom I would stay "till death do us part."
Copyright © 2001 by Christiane Northrup.
|List of Figures||xiii|
|Introduction: The Journey Begins||1|
|Midlife: Redefining Creativity and Home||3|
|Why I'm Writing a Menopause Book Now||5|
|Blazing a New Trail||6|
|Chapter 1||Menopause Puts Your Life Under a Microscope||9|
|"Not Me, My Marriage Is Fine"||10|
|The Childbearing Years: Balancing Personal and Professional Lives||12|
|Why Marriages Must Change at Midlife||16|
|My Personal Fibroid Story: The Final Chapter||20|
|Feeling the Joy of Co-creative Partnership||23|
|The Forces That Change the Goose Also Change the Gander||26|
|Real Menopause Hits||27|
|My Marriage Goes Bankrupt||28|
|Armadillo Medicine: The Power of Vulnerability||31|
|Celebrating the Past While Creating a New Future||33|
|Chapter 2||The Brain Catches Fire at Menopause||36|
|Our Cultural Inheritance||36|
|Our Brains Catch Fire at Menopause||38|
|Learning to Recognize and Heed Our Wake-up Calls||39|
|Is It Me or Is It My Hormones? Debunking the Myth of Raging Hormones||42|
|The Multiple Roles of Your "Reproductive" Hormones||48|
|Embracing the Message Behind Our Menopausal Anger||53|
|Emotions, Hormones, and Your Health||57|
|How Our Midlife Brains and Bodies Are Set Up to Heal Our Past||66|
|Finding a Larger Meaning||71|
|Chapter 3||Coming Home to Yourself: From Dependence to Healthy Autonomy||76|
|The Empty-Nest Syndrome||76|
|Powerful Feelings, Powerful Healing||82|
|Caring for Ourselves, Caring for Others: Finding the Balance||84|
|Hitting Pay Dirt: Getting Clear About Money at Midlife||90|
|Coming Home to Yourself||97|
|Vocational Awakening at Midlife||99|
|A Road Map for Navigating Unknown Territory||102|
|Chapter 4||This Can't Be Menopause, Can It? The Physical Foundation of the Change||105|
|What Is Happening in Your Body: Hormonal Changes||106|
|Perimenopause Is a Normal Process, Not a Disease||107|
|The Three Types of Menopause||110|
|Perimenopause and Hormonal Levels||112|
|Is There a Test I Can Take?||114|
|Menopause and Thyroid Function||118|
|Menopause and Adrenal Function||119|
|What to Expect in Your Transition||124|
|Chapter 5||Hormone Replacement: An Individual Choice||134|
|A Brief History of Hormone Replacement||134|
|Bioidentical Hormones: Nature's Ideal Design||138|
|A Hormone Primer: Essential Information Every Woman Should Know||142|
|How to Decide Whether or Not to Take Hormones||154|
|A Dusting of Hormones||169|
|How Long Should You Stay on Hormones?||170|
|Chapter 6||Foods and Supplements to Support the Change||172|
|Basic Principles of Herbal Therapy at Menopause||174|
|Menopausal Healing Foods||178|
|Traditional Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture for Menopause||187|
|Chapter 7||The Menopause Food Plan: A Program to Balance Your Hormones and Prevent Middle-Age Spread||191|
|Making Peace (Once Again) with My Weight||192|
|Five Steps to Midlife Weight Control||194|
|The Elements of Imbalance||199|
|The Hormone-Balancing Food Plan||205|
|Optimizing Midlife Digestion||219|
|The Final Frontier: Accepting Our Bodies||225|
|Chapter 8||Creating Pelvic Health and Power||227|
|What Is Yours, What Is Mine, What Is Ours? Reclaiming Our Boundaries||228|
|Hormonal Imbalance: Fuel to the Fire||231|
|Menstrual Cramps and Pelvic Pain||231|
|An Empowered Approach to Surgery or Invasive Procedures||247|
|Strengthen Your Urinary Health and Pelvic Floor Muscles||254|
|Chapter 9||Sex and Menopause: Myths and Reality||264|
|The Anatomy of Desire||265|
|Sexuality at Menopause: Our Cultural Inheritance||267|
|Menopause Is a Time to Redefine and Update Our Relationships||274|
|Hormone Levels Are Only One Part of Libido||277|
|Secondary Libidinal Support: Estrogen and Progesterone||279|
|Testosterone: The Hormone of Desire?||281|
|Aids to Lubrication||283|
|Telling the Truth||287|
|Nine Steps to Rekindling Libido||289|
|Chapter 10||Nurturing Your Brain: Sleep, Depression, and Memory||292|
|Enhancing Midlife Sleep||296|
|Depression: An Opportunity for Growth||304|
|Memory Loss at Menopause: Is This Alzheimer's?||314|
|Estrogen and Alzheimer's||316|
|Non-hormonal Ways to Protect Your Brain||319|
|Maximizing Midlife Wisdom||323|
|Chapter 11||From Rosebud to Rose Hip: Cultivating Midlife Beauty||328|
|Making Peace with Your Changing Skin||330|
|Preventing or Treating Wrinkles||336|
|Hair in the Wrong Places||354|
|When Good Skin Care Isn't Enough: Deciding on Cosmetic Procedures||360|
|Chapter 12||Standing Tall for Life: Building Healthy Bones||369|
|Osteoporosis: The Scope of the Problem||370|
|We're Designed for Lifetime Sturdiness||371|
|How Healthy Bone Is Made||372|
|Are You at Risk for Osteoporosis?||377|
|Measuring Bone Density||381|
|What About Bone-Building Drugs?||393|
|The Sunlight-Bone Health Connection||403|
|Shore Up Your Earth Connection with Plant Medicine||408|
|Chapter 13||Creating Breast Health||409|
|Our Cultural Inheritance: Nurturing and Self-Sacrifice||410|
|The Emotional Anatomy of Breast Cancer||412|
|Lifestyle and Breast Health||417|
|Eating for Breast Health||420|
|Breast Cancer Screening||423|
|Putting Breast Cancer Risk in Perspective||431|
|The Breast Cancer Gene: Should You Be Tested?||433|
|The Effect of HRT on Breast Health||434|
|Bioidentical Hormones and Cancer Risk||437|
|The Tamoxifen Dilemma||444|
|Chapter 14||Living with Heart, Passion, and Joy: How to Listen to and Love Your Midlife Heart||449|
|The Heart Has Its Say at Menopause: My Personal Story||450|
|Cardiovascular Disease: When the Flow of Life Is Blocked||454|
|Palpitations: Your Heart's Wake-up Call||456|
|Gender Bias and Heart Disease: Our Cultural Inheritance||459|
|Arteriosclerosis: Reducing Your Risk||462|
|Carbohydrates, Sugar, and Heart Health: What Every Woman Should Know||472|
|Foods for Heart Health||480|
|What About Aspirin?||482|
|Is Estrogen Replacement Necessary to Prevent Heart Disease?||487|
|How to Love and Respect Your Midlife Heart||492|
|The Heart-Opening Effect of Pets||493|
|Epilogue: The Calm After the Storm||495|
|About the Author||591|
Posted December 1, 2006
This book is very disappointing. I am a health professional, and she makes broad statements about diets, supplements and other issues that are false. She uses much of the book to justify her divorce, and subtly encourage all women to consider that course. I expected so much more.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 10, 2006
The only redeeming value this book has is the well researched technical data. Other than that it was AWFUL. Her diet leaves too little breathing room. Whatever happened to moderation? And the advice she gives about marriage is definitely coming from a bitter divorcee.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 19, 2003
I HIGHLY RECOMMEND THIS BOOK FOR ANY WOMEN 35 AND UP. THERE IS A WEALTH OF KNOWLEDGE TO GAIN FROM THIS BOOK. I HAVE LOANED THE BOOK OUT TO A DOZEN FRIENDS, AND THEY ALL WENT OUT AND BOUGHT THEIR OWN. I CONSTANTLY REFER BACK TO THIS BOOK. THE REFERENCE SECTION ALONE IS WORTH THE PURCHASE. DR. NORTHRUP, YOU SAVED MY LIFE!!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 14, 2003
This book could have been really good if the author had spent more time talking about menopause and less time espousing her own weird agenda. Not all husbands are jerks and need to be divorced. And swallowing ones own words will not give you thyroid problems. Too many New Age ideas. As another person said, probably the only reason this book was a bestseller is because women are so desperate for menopause information. Of course, being on Oprah didn't hurt any either. Time to look at other menopause books and find a new menopause guru.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.