Menopause Matters
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Award winning 'Menopause: Answers at your Fingertips'

Commended at the BMA Medical Book Competition Awards 2007.

By Menopause Matter's
Dr. Heather Currie

April 2008.

Jennie Bond Former BBC royal correspondent Jennie Bond, 57, who went through the menopause eight years ago, reviews
Menopause: Answers At Your Fingertips
by Dr Heather Currie.

For me, the menopause is proof positive that life is never fair. As this useful and neatly set-out book acknowledges, the menopause is a natural event that every woman will face. provided she lives long enough. So the options are: hot flushes, insomnia, weight gain and wrinkles - or early death.

My menopause coincided with a crazy time reporting on the Royal Family. Diana, Princess Margaret and the Queen Mother all died while I was going through it and the stress levels were so intense I had no idea whether my flushes and sleepless nights were induced by work or vacillating hormone levels.

Had Dr Currie's book been available then. I could have looked up every symptom and found good, practical advice. There's plenty of it and it's well organised. But three letters seem to jump out from almost every page: HRT. And although Dr Currie says she sets out the 'real facts' about hormone replacement therapy - including the reported dangers - it does appear to be her preferred option to many menopausal problems. As there's breast cancer in my family HRT was not a route I was encouraged to go down.

I was, therefore, relieved to find a chapter on alterative therapies. The pros and cons of a number of herbal remedies from black cohosh to red clover are set out in bite-sized paragraphs so you can make your own judgment. This is a comprehensive book that could help a lot of women through a difficult and confusing time.

And, personally, I think, I might just take some 'black cohosh' for the hell of it, With a name like that, it's bound to impress my teenage daughter and all her mates. At last, you see, we can be menopausal and cool!

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menopause"This book seeks to answer all those questions you have been afraid to ask, all those issues, which may seem trivial but when answered, put your mind at rest....You will dip into it time and time again."
Kathy Abernethy
Senior Nurse Specialist,
The Menopause Clinical and Research Unit,
Northwick Park Hospital,
Harrow, Middlesex

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download an extract (8 pages pdf 160k)

It wasn’t so long ago that menopause, when it was discussed at all, was only talked about, woman to woman, in the hushed tones that used to be reserved for ‘anything down there’.  However, it was obvious that as the baby boomer generation reached mid-life, menopause would begin receive the same amount of critical examination and analysis as any other common female experience.  But unfortunately, many of the books addressing the subject seem to have been written by those who formerly advocated natural childbirth, whilst also giving the distinct impression that anyone who reached for an epidural was being a bit of a jessie.  Now, for women approaching menopause, they are urging dietary modification, regular exercise and liberal self medication using the herbal remedies and vitamins which, coincidentally, can be purchased on-line from the author’s own website!   All very well, except when after doing all of this you are still troubled with hot flushes and night sweats, which leave you feeling both a miserable failure and permanently exhausted.  

Time then to reach for Menopause: Answers at your Fingertips. Written by a woman doctor and using women’s own questions as its basis, this book provides as much useful, un-preachy information as you need to see you through the menopausal transition and beyond. As well as covering symptoms and their causes and advising how they can be countered, using both natural methods and HRT where appropriate, it includes chapters on contraception, mood management and sexual relationships.  It also acknowledges that everyone’s experience is different and encourages the reader to use the information to help her manage her menopause in the way that best suits her and her lifestyle.  All in all, it is undoubtedly the best and certainly the most sensible book I’ve yet to read on the subject.

Reviewed by Val Hirst
May 2006

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When I began working for the Journal in 2004. my very first article covered the flurry of media panic over hormone replacement therapy (HRT) following the Million Women Study. I explored the unfortunate impact on women nationwide. and reported on several pieces of ad hoc research suggesting that women had become wary of medical solutions. So when I read the back cover blurb of Menopause: Answers at Your Fingertips - and saw that its main aim was to meet such wariness head on and 'debunk the scare stories' about medical solutions - I gave a silent cheer.

At last a solid, experience-based book that could help pre- and postmenopausal women make sense of all that they've heard about HRT. The book undoubtedly keeps faith. It explains the climacteric and its symptoms and goes into depth about osteoporosis, contraception, diet, exercise, lifestyle and other assorted medical problems. And, as promised, it gives thorough and balanced coverage of the HRT issue and avoids the 'shut up and take the tablets' approach by covering in just as much detail the non-HRT drug therapies and the non- medical alternatives to HRT. The style is clear, accessible, non-patronising and the resources section full and well researched. I'd happily recommend the book to patients as background reading and support for menopausal symptoms.

Reviewed by Susan Quilliam. BA. Cert Ed, MNLP
Freelance Writer, Broadcaster and Agony Aunt, Cambridge, UK

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As Kathy Abernethy rightly states in the books foreword, the menopause is a natural event. However, like many other natural events such as parenthood, no-one is ever fully prepared for what this means in practical terms particularly as we are all very different in how we respond, both physically and mentally, to certain situations.

The menopause conjures up half-heard conversations about falling apart, ageing overnight, being unable to cope, the purchase of numerous electric fans, and the horrors, or delights, depending on your viewpoint of something known as HRT.

Thank goodness then to have a resource that takes a look at the menopause in a holistic way, recognising that we are all individuals, and presenting the information in a clear and practical manner. How fantastic to have a reference book to which we can run when that rash, pain or groan of joints we are experiencing may cause us concern on this journey of change.

This book helps women make informed judgments about how they might wish to deal with any changes that occur during the menopause, and empowers them to discuss their needs more fully.

Bravo, perhaps a similar book for the male species would also be useful. And Len the interim we should, as appropriate, plan to read relevant extracts from this one to our partners, in the name of understanding and harmony... Thank you Dr Currie!

By Jane Clubley.
Arches - publication for Newcastle University.

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Page last updated: 30 November 2010