This week the North American Menopause Associating (NAMS) will be having its annual meeting. So I reviewed a great book by Wulf Utian, MD, NAMS founder and Professor Emeritus at Case Western Reserve. It’s called Change Your Menopause: Why One Size Does Not Fit All.
I think it will have a lot of value for women as they enter and go through this important window of life. It’s easy to read and his information is all evidence based and backed by good research. Click Here for a brief audio interview with Dr. Utian.
The book starts out with the obvious which you will appreciate; each of you is different and though you are experiencing a universal transition, how you feel about it and how it makes you feel is not necessarily going to be the same for every woman. That’s why stories women share about menopause are so different.
And that’s part of the confusion. Some women can barely recall it; others describe tales of woe. So understanding the facts is essential to being prepared and making the experience positive.
The second chapter continues by asking the question, “Menopause – What’s the big deal?” He explains that women in menopause are becoming a larger portion of the population. One in ten people in the United States is over age 65 and by 2030 this number may be one in six.
Many women stop going to the doctor after they stop having children. But these large numbers should have a major impact on using menopause as a marker for getting women back into the healthcare system and screened for diseases that could either be prevented or caught early such as colon and breast cancer, osteoporosis and early signs of heart disease.
Chapter 3 goes on to explain the anatomy and essential physiology and how your body will be different. It’s the basics for understanding your body.
Chapter 4 continues as Dr. Utian explains what changes are due to menopause and what changes are due to just getting older. Some things we can’t change; but knowledge gives you the opportunity to make some changes in your life to minimize the “potentially alterable” risk factors of aging.
Chapter 5 explains Why Everyone’s Menopause Differs and goes into the changes in your hormones, your personal psychological makeup and the world around you responds to menopause – how does it feel to be over 50, to lose one or both parents, have kids leaving for school or marriage, etc.
Chapter 6 gets to the “fun part.” Dr. Utian offers 12 tips to help you change your menopause. It’s the foundation for a healthier you. He then goes on to offer Eight Essential Tools to build on your new foundation. Finally, the book offers a To-Do List of Eight Critical Actions. It’s a simple but powerful list of how to live a fuller, more vibrant life. These actions range from creating your bucket list to using your imagination to visualize yourself as who or what you would like to be. I think this chapter will be particularly useful for everyone.
Chapter 7 goes into Effective Treatments. Here he offers advice I strongly agree with – start with the least invasive or potentially harmful and work your way up. I like this approach because if you find what works early on, you’ll never need to try or be exposed to the “stronger stuff.” Dr. Utian also points out that the vulva – the area outside the vagina – is different from the vagina, so it needs different treatments.
He also discusses bladder and heart issues and treatment for osteoporosis.
Chapter 8 is all about hormones – the risks and the benefits. As he says, “it’s your decision” and it’s really important you talk about this with your doctor or health care provider to find the risks and benefits and see if it’s a good choice for you. Choosing to take or not take hormones is an individual decision.
Chapter 9 is all about Alternative / Nonprescription Therapies. There is a lot of information here from lifestyle changes to over the counter remedies. The important thing to note is that there are a lot of options, so learn about them now.
Chapter 10 is something important to discuss that often doesn’t get enough time in the doctor’s office – sex. There are a number of sexual problems that can occur during menopause. The book underscores the importance of sex and maintaining your sexuality and goes about suggesting ways to help you do just that. Dr. Utian discusses lack of arousal, lack of orgasm and painful sex. He even mentions that sometimes it is the male partner who is having the problem. And what about contraception and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) during the transition into menopause or how lesbians might experience menopause compared with the general population? These topics are also discussed.
In short, I think Change Your Menopause is a great book for women in and around menopause. You will find lots of useful information reading it and having it as a reference on your bookshelf so you can go back to it often.
It’s a perfect complement to Eat to Defeat Menopause, which offers some basic medical information on menopause and 130 recipes from my kitchen the kitchen of my co-author, Karen Giblin. There are also guest chefs including a former white house chef and other top chefs from around the country. Click here for a recipe from our book.