Cover image for 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
Northrup, Christiane.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Bantam Books, 2001.
Physical Description:
xvi, 589 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm
Format :


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RG186 .N67 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks
RG186 .N67 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
RG186 .N67 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
RG186 .N67 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
RG186 .N67 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

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The author of Women's Bodies, Women's Wisdom brings her unique blend of life-changing insights and up-to-the-minute medical advice to a waiting audience of more than 30 million baby-boomer women who are face-to-face with the change. Dr. Northrup maintains that menopause is a mind/body revolution that brings women the greatest opportunity for growth since adolescence. NPR sponsorship.

Author Notes

Christiane Northrup received a medical degree from Dartmouth Medical School and went on to complete her residency at Tufts New England Medical Center in Boston. She is an obstetrician and gynecologist who is a foremost advocate of women's health and wellness. She has written several books including Women's Bodies, Women's Wisdom; The Wisdom of Menopause; Mother-Daughter Wisdom; The Secret Pleasures of Menopause; and Goddesses Never Age: The Secret Prescription for Radiance, Vitality, and Wellbeing, and Dodging Energy Vampires: An Empath's Guide to Evading Relationships That Drain You and Restoring Your Health and Power. She also wrote a children's book entitled Beautiful Girl.

(Bowker Author Biography) Christiane Northrup, M.D., trained at Dartmouth Medical School & 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. She is past president of the American Holistic Medical Association & an internationally recognized authority on women's health & healing.

(Publisher Provided)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

"Boomer" women drawn to holistic medicine with a New Age tilt are the target readers of Northrup's second book (her first was Women's Bodies, Women's Wisdom [1996]). Northrup opens with chapters that emphasize the mind-body connection, discussing menopause as a journey that "Puts Your Life under a Microscope" and a time when "(Your) Brain Catches Fire" and many women move "From Dependence to Healthy Autonomy." Later chapters consider the physical foundations of menopause, weigh the advantages and disadvantages of hormone replacement, discuss useful foods and supplements, and address related issues, from pelvic health and sex to the impact of menopause on the health of a woman's skin, bones, breasts, heart, sleep patterns, and mental health. Northrup discusses her own menopausal experiences in some detail: some readers will find this involving; others, solipsistic. Northrup's references to the more mystical reaches of holistic healing will also polarize: finding chakras and Tarot cards in this menopause manual will confound some readers, but others will find Northrup's eclecticism enlightening. Acquire where holistic health, broadly defined, circulates. --Mary Carroll

Publisher's Weekly Review

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." Agent, Ned Leavitt. (Apr. 3) Forecast: Northrup is a bestselling author widely held in the same esteem as Gary Null and Deepak Chopra. Among the competitive field of books on menopause, hers stands out for its whole-woman approach, which will make it attractive not only to her core readership but also as a hand-selling favorite among booksellers. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

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. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



In the year or two before I actually started to skip periods, I began to experience an increasingly common feeling of irritability whenever my work was interrupted or I had to contend with a co-worker or an employee who was not as committed to accomplishing the job as I was. Looking back, I recall that when I was in my thirties and my children were younger, their interruptions when I was in the middle of writing an article or talking on the phone were only mildly irritating to me. My love and concern for their welfare usually overrode any anger or frustration I might have felt. But as I approached menopause, I found myself unable to tolerate distractions like my eighteen year old daughter asking me, "When is dinner?" when she could clearly see I was busy. Why, I wondered, was it always my responsibility to turn on the stove and begin to think about my family's food needs, even when I wasn't hungry and was deeply engrossed in a project? Why couldn't my husband get the dinner preparations started? Why did my family seem to be almost totally paralyzed when it came to preparing a meal? Why did they all wait in the kitchen, as though unable to set the table or pour a glass of water, until I came into the room and my mere presence announced, "Mom's here. Now we get to eat"?... Still, during my childbearing years I accepted this, mostly good-naturedly, as part and parcel of my role as wife and mother. And in so doing, I unwittingly perpetrated it, partly because it felt so good to be indispensable. During perimenopause, I lost patience with this behavior on all levels, whether at home or at work. I could feel a fiery volcano within me, ready to burst, and a voice within me roaring, "Enough! You're all able-bodied, capable individuals. Everyone here knows how to drive a car and boil water. Why is my energy still the organizing principle around here?" Little did I know that these little bursts of irritability over petty family dynamics were the first faint knocks on the door marked Menopausal Wisdom signaling that I needed to renegotiate some of my habitual relationship patterns. Nor did I know that by the time I began to actually skip periods and experience hot flashes, my life as I had known it for the previous quarter century would be on the threshold of total transformation. As my cyclic nature rewired itself, I put all of my significant relationships under the microscope, began to heal the unfinished business from my past, experienced the first pangs of empty nest, and established an entirely new and exciting relationship with my creativity and vocation. All of the changes I was about to undergo were spurred, supported and encouraged by the complex and intricate brain and body changes that are an unheralded -- but inevitable and often overwhelming -- part of the menopausal transition. There is much, much more to this midlife transformation than "raging hormones." Research into the physiological changes taking place in the perimenopausal woman is revealing that, in addition to the hormonal shift that means an end to childbearing, our bodies -- and, specifically, our nervous systems -- are being, quite literally, rewired. It's as simple as this: Our brains are changing. A woman's thoughts, her ability to focus, and the amount of fuel going to the intuitive centers in the temporal lobes of her brain are all plugged into, and affected by, the circuits being rewired. After working with thousands of women who have gone through this process, as well as experiencing it myself, I can say with a great assurance that menopause is an exciting developmental stage -- one that, when participated in consciously, holds enormous promise for transforming and healing our bodies, minds, and spirits at the deepest levels. As a woman in midlife today, I am part of a growing population that is an unprecedented forty million strong. This group is no longer invisible and silent, but a force to be reckoned with: educated, vocal, sophisticated in our knowledge of medical science, and determined to take control of our own health. Think about it: forty million women, all undergoing the same sort of circuitry update at the same time. By virtue of our sheer numbers, as well as our social and economic influence, we are powerful -- and potentially dangerous to any institution build upon the status quo. It's a safe bet the world is going to change for the better. It's no accident that the current movement of psychospiritual healing is composed largely of women in their thirties, forties, and fifties. We are awakening en masse and beginning to deliver a much-needed message of health, hope, and healing to the world. My personal experience tells me that the perimenopausal lifting of the hormonal veil -- the monthly cycle of reproductive hormones that tends to keep us focused on the needs and feelings of others -- can be both liberating and unsettling. The midlife rate of marital separation, divorce, and vocational change confirms this. I, for one, had always envisioned myself married to the same man for life, the two of us growing old together. This ideal had always been one of my most cherished dreams. At midlife, I, like thousands of others, have had to give up my fantasies of how I thought my life would be. I had to face, head on, the old adage about how hard it is to lose what you never really had. It means giving up all your illusions, and it is very difficult. But for me the issue was larger than where, and with whom, I would grow old. It was a warning, coming from deep within my spirit, that said, "Grow ... or die." Those were my choices. I chose to grow. Excerpted from The Wisdom of Menopause: The Complete Guide to Physical and Emotional Health During the Change by Christiane Northrup All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

Table of Contents

List of Figuresp. xiii
Acknowledgmentsp. xv
Introduction: The Journey Beginsp. 1
Midlife: Redefining Creativity and Homep. 3
Why I'm Writing a Menopause Book Nowp. 5
Blazing a New Trailp. 6
Chapter 1 Menopause Puts Your Life Under a Microscopep. 9
"Not Me, My Marriage Is Fine"p. 10
The Childbearing Years: Balancing Personal and Professional Livesp. 12
Why Marriages Must Change at Midlifep. 16
My Personal Fibroid Story: The Final Chapterp. 20
Feeling the Joy of Co-creative Partnershipp. 23
The Forces That Change the Goose Also Change the Ganderp. 26
Real Menopause Hitsp. 27
My Marriage Goes Bankruptp. 28
Armadillo Medicine: The Power of Vulnerabilityp. 31
Celebrating the Past While Creating a New Futurep. 33
Chapter 2 The Brain Catches Fire at Menopausep. 36
Our Cultural Inheritancep. 36
Our Brains Catch Fire at Menopausep. 38
Learning to Recognize and Heed Our Wake-up Callsp. 39
Is It Me or Is It My Hormones? Debunking the Myth of Raging Hormonesp. 42
The Multiple Roles of Your "Reproductive" Hormonesp. 48
Embracing the Message Behind Our Menopausal Angerp. 53
Emotions, Hormones, and Your Healthp. 57
How Our Midlife Brains and Bodies Are Set Up to Heal Our Pastp. 66
Finding a Larger Meaningp. 71
Chapter 3 Coming Home to Yourself: From Dependence to Healthy Autonomyp. 76
The Empty-Nest Syndromep. 76
Boomerang Babiesp. 80
Powerful Feelings, Powerful Healingp. 82
Caring for Ourselves, Caring for Others: Finding the Balancep. 84
Hitting Pay Dirt: Getting Clear About Money at Midlifep. 90
Coming Home to Yourselfp. 97
Vocational Awakening at Midlifep. 99
A Road Map for Navigating Unknown Territoryp. 102
Chapter 4 This Can't Be Menopause, Can It? The Physical Foundation of the Changep. 105
What Is Happening in Your Body: Hormonal Changesp. 106
Perimenopause Is a Normal Process, Not a Diseasep. 107
The Three Types of Menopausep. 110
Perimenopause and Hormonal Levelsp. 112
Is There a Test I Can Take?p. 114
Menopause and Thyroid Functionp. 118
Menopause and Adrenal Functionp. 119
What to Expect in Your Transitionp. 124
Chapter 5 Hormone Replacement: An Individual Choicep. 134
A Brief History of Hormone Replacementp. 134
Bioidentical Hormones: Nature's Ideal Designp. 138
A Hormone Primer: Essential Information Every Woman Should Knowp. 142
How to Decide Whether or Not to Take Hormonesp. 154
A Dusting of Hormonesp. 169
How Long Should You Stay on Hormones?p. 170
Chapter 6 Foods and Supplements to Support the Changep. 172
Basic Principles of Herbal Therapy at Menopausep. 174
Menopausal Healing Foodsp. 178
Traditional Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture for Menopausep. 187
Start Somewherep. 190
Chapter 7 The Menopause Food Plan: A Program to Balance Your Hormones and Prevent Middle-Age Spreadp. 191
Making Peace (Once Again) with My Weightp. 192
Five Steps to Midlife Weight Controlp. 194
The Elements of Imbalancep. 199
The Hormone-Balancing Food Planp. 205
Optimizing Midlife Digestionp. 219
The Final Frontier: Accepting Our Bodiesp. 225
Chapter 8 Creating Pelvic Health and Powerp. 227
What Is Yours, What Is Mine, What Is Ours? Reclaiming Our Boundariesp. 228
Hormonal Imbalance: Fuel to the Firep. 231
Menstrual Cramps and Pelvic Painp. 231
Heavy Bleedingp. 235
Fibroidsp. 240
An Empowered Approach to Surgery or Invasive Proceduresp. 247
Strengthen Your Urinary Health and Pelvic Floor Musclesp. 254
Chapter 9 Sex and Menopause: Myths and Realityp. 264
The Anatomy of Desirep. 265
Sexuality at Menopause: Our Cultural Inheritancep. 267
Menopause Is a Time to Redefine and Update Our Relationshipsp. 274
Hormone Levels Are Only One Part of Libidop. 277
Secondary Libidinal Support: Estrogen and Progesteronep. 279
Testosterone: The Hormone of Desire?p. 281
Aids to Lubricationp. 283
Telling the Truthp. 287
Nine Steps to Rekindling Libidop. 289
Chapter 10 Nurturing Your Brain: Sleep, Depression, and Memoryp. 292
Enhancing Midlife Sleepp. 296
Depression: An Opportunity for Growthp. 304
Memory Loss at Menopause: Is This Alzheimer's?p. 314
Estrogen and Alzheimer'sp. 316
Non-hormonal Ways to Protect Your Brainp. 319
Maximizing Midlife Wisdomp. 323
Chapter 11 From Rosebud to Rose Hip: Cultivating Midlife Beautyp. 328
Making Peace with Your Changing Skinp. 330
Preventing or Treating Wrinklesp. 336
Midlife Acnep. 347
Rosaceap. 351
Hair in the Wrong Placesp. 354
When Good Skin Care Isn't Enough: Deciding on Cosmetic Proceduresp. 360
Varicose Veinsp. 364
Chapter 12 Standing Tall for Life: Building Healthy Bonesp. 369
Osteoporosis: The Scope of the Problemp. 370
We're Designed for Lifetime Sturdinessp. 371
How Healthy Bone Is Madep. 372
Are You at Risk for Osteoporosis?p. 377
Measuring Bone Densityp. 381
Bone-Building Programp. 385
What About Bone-Building Drugs?p. 393
Get Strongp. 394
The Sunlight-Bone Health Connectionp. 403
Shore Up Your Earth Connection with Plant Medicinep. 408
Chapter 13 Creating Breast Healthp. 409
Our Cultural Inheritance: Nurturing and Self-Sacrificep. 410
The Emotional Anatomy of Breast Cancerp. 412
Lifestyle and Breast Healthp. 417
Eating for Breast Healthp. 420
Breast Cancer Screeningp. 423
Putting Breast Cancer Risk in Perspectivep. 431
The Breast Cancer Gene: Should You Be Tested?p. 433
The Effect of HRT on Breast Healthp. 434
Bioidentical Hormones and Cancer Riskp. 437
The Tamoxifen Dilemmap. 444
Chapter 14 Living with Heart, Passion, and Joy: How to Listen to and Love Your Midlife Heartp. 449
The Heart Has Its Say at Menopause: My Personal Storyp. 450
Cardiovascular Disease: When the Flow of Life Is Blockedp. 454
Palpitations: Your Heart's Wake-up Callp. 456
Gender Bias and Heart Disease: Our Cultural Inheritancep. 459
Arteriosclerosis: Reducing Your Riskp. 462
Carbohydrates, Sugar, and Heart Health: What Every Woman Should Knowp. 472
Cardioprotective Supplementsp. 475
Foods for Heart Healthp. 480
What About Aspirin?p. 482
Get Moving!p. 483
Is Estrogen Replacement Necessary to Prevent Heart Disease?p. 487
How to Love and Respect Your Midlife Heartp. 492
The Heart-Opening Effect of Petsp. 493
Epilogue: The Calm After the Stormp. 495
Notesp. 499
Resourcesp. 538
Indexp. 567
About the Authorp. 591