Nonfiction

The Menopause Manifesto, by Dr. Jen Gunter

Time to play catch-up! There are several reviews that will appear soon on this blog. Get ready! Here we go:

I remember a scene in Father of the Bride Part 2 when Diane Keaton was looking at books on the bed table of a house where she and her husband were staying. All of them were on menopause. I’m sure I chuckled about this upon my first viewing of the movie. Who would want to read a book on menopause? The book title that comes to mind in that stack is “The Silent Passage.”

The operative word being “silent.” Menopause is a subject rarely discussed unless one seeks it out. That is maddening, because few of us–myself included–are prepared when it happens to us. In a few weeks I turn 51, the average age of menopause, yet I’m ashamed to admit that I knew little about it, including those several years leading up to it, called peri-menopause. (To be clear, one has experienced “menopause” when 12 full months have elapsed since the last menstrual period. Symptoms up until that point are “peri-menopause.”) So am I experiencing menopause right now? No.

The Menopause Manifesto was recommended to me last week by a Facebook group acquaintance. I devoured it in two days, focusing mostly on sections that pertain specifically to my own experience. Dr. Jen Gunter, an OB/GYN with decades of experience treating patients, covers A LOT. It’s her manifesto because she frustratingly reveals the plight of menopausal women filtered through a profession dominated by men. It’s not to hate on men, but it is the reality that people who will never experience menopause have, historically, treated those who will go through the physical/emotional/mental/sexual changes caused by this phenomenon.

Yes, phenomenon. Women’s bodies are amazing! They are so much more than objectified, CGIed, Photoshopped 2-dimensional objects in magazines and film. And, as progressive as we would like to think modern society is when it comes to our bodies, we have a long way to go. Women are just as much to blame as men in this respect. We deserve better and we need to do better. All women’s bodies are beautiful. Say it with me: ALL WOMEN’S BODIES ARE BEAUTIFUL.

One major discovery from this book: Ancestral family medical history plays absolutely no role when it comes to menopausal symptoms. Just because a mother had hot flashes doesn’t mean her daughter will too. Every menopausal body is unique, and the closest indication of what to expect–but by no means a guarantee–is between sisters, not mother and daughter.

The predictable unpredictability was another. Basically, menopause is a roller coaster of one’s very own. Nature’s tailor-made experience. But that experience can affect others, so the chapter on how peri-menopause and menopause affect sexual desire is one that I highly recommend couples read together.

I’m so grateful this book was recommended to me. It holds a wealth of knowledge, situations, and medical information that will be helpful to ANYONE who reads it. But if you are in your early forties and menopause is on the horizon for you, it is essential and invaluable.

9.5/10 Stars

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