Holly L. Thacker, MD Cleveland, OH: Cleveland Clinic Press; 2007
Women's Health: Your Body, Your Hormones, Your Choices is all about options. Midlife women who are feeling betrayed by the unpredictability of their bodies and overwhelmed by the conflicting claims of the media will find clarity and empowerment in the pages of this book. Dr. Thacker demystifies menopause by using simple language to explain how the decline of estrogen levels can manifest itself as a broad array of symptoms, and she offers practical strategies for coping with those symptoms. The author acknowledges that each woman approaches menopause with a unique set of challenges--genetic risk factors, surgical history, medical issues, family stressors--and she invites the reader to explore different options for meeting those challenges.
When it comes to health care, this book advocates personal responsibility. The reader is encouraged to maintain a file of her important medical records, take the time to examine ingredient labels on multivitamins, and most importantly, partner with a healthcare provider who offers individualized attention and guidance. Although birthdays are inevitable, the effects of aging can often be controlled by making wise choices, such as avoiding sun exposure, smoking, junk food, and a sedentary lifestyle. Practical advice regarding skin and hair care, diet, and exercise is realistic and attainable. The author respects the importance of the mind-body connection: looking good helps you feel good, and feeling good helps you look good!
The book is informal yet informative, peppered with “fast fact” windows, “Ask Dr. Thacker” columns, case-study vignettes, and photographic inserts. Topics include discussions of emotional changes, sleep disorders, and sexuality. The appendices are concise and useful.
While the tone of the book is reassuring (“menopausal symptoms can be explained, and they can be treated”), the author does not neglect to point out that some symptoms are potentially serious and should not be dismissed as “normal menopause.” There is valuable information on such health concerns as abnormal bleeding and bone health.
Women’s Health: Your Body, Your Hormones, Your Choices discusses the risks and benefits of hormone therapy in non-alarmist terms, as well as the use of alternative therapies for menopausal symptoms. The take-home message is that hormone therapy is a reasonable choice for some women at menopause and beyond, provided it is indicated and individualized.
By explaining that medical decisions are rarely all good or all bad, but instead fall into a gray zone in between, the author helps the reader feel confident by knowing she has options. This is an empowering message for women of all ages.
Elizabeth H.G. Mandell, MD
Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology
Midlife Health Center
University of Virginia
Credentialed NAMS Menopause Practitioner