Barbara Kantrowitz and Pat Wingert Kelly New York, NY: Workman Publishing; 2006
The title of this book does not do justice to the array of information presented, which goes far beyond menopause and could be called Dr. Spock for Aging Women. The book is extremely well researched and presents cutting-edge science in a readable and comprehensible way. It covers all the stages of the menopause transition with a clear explanation of hormonal changes, symptoms, and when hormone therapy (HT) is appropriate. The authors also discuss common changes related to aging, including problems related to sleep, sex, mood, memory, bones, eyes, ears, and heart. There are suggestions for exercise, diet, and improving appearance. The review on the common cancers of women is informative and accurate.
Overall, this is an excellent reference that can help educate women and save healthcare professionals time on counseling. There is even an attempt to individualize medical problems by giving examples of common problems seen with the menopause transition and aging, along with possible solutions.
Some of the recommendations are on the conservative side, such as the recommendations for HT, although the authors do follow the National Institutes of Health (NIH) guidelines. The forward is written by Dr. Bernadine Healy, who was at the NIH when the Women's Health Initiative (WHI) was funded. This study had a profound effect on how women view the use of hormones. The recent conflicting recommendations from experts in the field about how the results from the WHI should be applied are not particularly well covered, but the book does an admirable job of sticking to the facts and letting the practitioner and patient decide for themselves.
The book succumbs to some common pitfalls, such as viewing transdermal HT preparations as safer than oral because they do not elevate clotting factors. The authors also erroneously suggest that a woman can have follicles (eggs) in her ovaries counted to predict the timing of menopause. Overall, however, these are small issues that do not undermine the value of the book, which represents a wealth of accurate information and a helpful guide to aging in a healthy manner for women.
Michelle P. Warren, MD
Professor of Medicine and Obstetrics and Gynecology
Medical Director, Center for Menopause, Hormone Disorders, and Women's Health
Wyeth-Ayerst Professor of Women's Health
New York, NY
Chair, NAMS Professional Education Committee