The Wisdom of Menopause: Creating Physical and Emotional Health and Healing During the Change

The Wisdom of Menopause: Creating Physical and Emotional Health and Healing During the Change

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by Christiane Northrup M.D.
“Menopause is every woman’s awakening — a stage that holds enormous promise for healing our bodies, minds, and spirits on the deepest levels.”

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,


“Menopause is every woman’s awakening — a stage that holds enormous promise for healing our bodies, minds, and spirits on the deepest levels.”

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.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Northrup (Women's Bodies, Women's Wisdom), cofounder of the Women to Women health-care center in Maine, offers a celebratory, "psychospiritual" approach in her comprehensive guide to menopausal health and well-being. Beginning with the premise that, though difficult, the "hormone-driven changes that affect the brain... give a woman a sharper eye for inequity... and a voice that insists on speaking up," Northrup details hormonal imbalances, mood swings, serious illnesses, treatment options and all the other symptoms, side effects and decisions women face in midlife. Middle-aged herself, Northrup writes from experience and, more important, from her professional expertise as a physician who has treated many women and researched menopause. While much of the health-care material here is available in other sources, Northrup's approach a description of symptoms, followed by both traditional and alternative treatment options along with some anecdotes is particularly useful. Occasionally she veers off into New Age jargon, but she is a firm believer in the relevance of tangential influences on physical health, including emotional and financial well-being. The specific medical advice on sleep, diet, breast health and the empowerment motif will bring insight, comfort and confidence to women embarked on "the change." Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
Author of Women's Bodies, Women's Wisdom, a million-copy best seller, Oprah regular Northrup helps women prepare for menopause, both physically and emotionally. Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.

Product Details

Bantam Books
Publication date:
Edition description:
Bantam Tradepaperback Edition
Product dimensions:
6.18(w) x 9.34(h) x 1.27(d)

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Read an Excerpt

Menopause Puts Your Life Under a Microscope

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.

What People are saying about this

Deepak Chopra, M.D.
"Feminine wisdom is the intelligence at the heart of creation. It is holistic, intuitive, contextual, and functions as a field of infinite correlation. Dr. Northrup's book is an expression of this wisdom."
--author of Ageless Body, Timeless Mind
Caroline Myss, Ph.D.
"A masterpiece for every woman who has an interest in her body, her mind and her soul."
-- author of Anatomy of the Spirit
Bernie Siegel, M.D.
"Dr. Chris Northrup's book is an outstanding collection of information and case histories that will benefit everyone who reads it. It lives up to the title and I certainly intend to share it with my wife and daughter. I could go on extolling its virtues, but it will do more good if everyone just takes my advice and reads it."
-- author of Love, Medicine, and Miracles
Larry Dossey, M.D.
"While most male physicians seem hesitant even to use the word 'healing,' many women doctors--epitomized by Dr. Christiane Northrup--are demonstrating what genuine healing has always been about: the integration of the physical and the spiritual, psyche and soma, into a harmonious whole. This book demonstrates the reemergence of the feminine in healing, a force that has kept the inner pulse of healing beating for centuries. If you can't have Dr. Northrup for your doctor, read her book."
-- author of Healing Words, Meaning & Medicine, and Recovering the Soul
Joan Borysenko, Ph.D.
"Women's Bodies, Women's Wisdom is a gateway to the deepest understanding of health and well-being. Women have an innate sense of spirituality, an ability to attune to the wisdom within themselves and the larger whole that has been systematically ignored in medicine. Dr. Northrup restores the spiritual to the medical, facilitating the understanding and confidence that every woman needs in order to create a healthy body and a fulfilled life."
-- author of Minding the Body, Mending the Mind and A Woman's Book of Life

Meet the Author

Christiane Northrup, M.D., trained at Dartmouth Medical School and Tufts New England Medical Center before cofounding the Women to Women health care center in Yarmouth, Maine, which became a model for women's clinics nationwide. Board certified in obstetrics and gynecology, she is past president of the American Holistic Medical Association and an internationally recognized authority on women's health and healing.

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The Wisdom of Menopause 2.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.