Health Topics

Menopause from A-Z

A book Review from February 2009, by Pam Peeke, M.D., M.P.H.

Raise your hand if you're confused about how to navigate your perimenopausal years. You've got endless questions, you're frustrated and you're not alone. This month, my good friend and colleague Dr. Holly Thacker is publishing her book "The Cleveland Clinic Guide to Menopause." Holly L. Thacker, MD, is the Director and founder of Center for Specialized Women’s Health at Cleveland Clinic. She's also Associate Professor of Surgery at the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine at Case Western University and is regarded as one of the leading specialists in women's health.

I enjoyed Dr. Thacker's book immensely. I found it easy to read and the messages are clear and well organized. The book begins with how you actually choose your doctor once you enter the midlife years. You do have choices and you have to stand up for yourself and learn to be assertive about obtaining answers to your questions about your health concerns and the latest therapies. Defining menopausal symptoms is so important and Dr. Thacker does a great job providing a real A-Z on what this signature period of your life is all about. There's a lot of confusion about what you may attribute to aging, and what you can blame on your fluctuating hormones.

Needless to say, one certainly affects the other. You're going to experience some fat redistribution as your hormone levels change, but how much is very lifestyle dependent. I'm happy to see that Dr. Thacker prioritizes regular exercise as well as healthy nutrition, noting that despite your age, what goes in your mouth must be burned as fuel throughout your busy day. You eat and you work it off, but after the age of forty, I've told you that you'll have to add a bit more intensity and frequency to keep your body fat and overall weight in check. Mood swings and body image are heavy hitter topics that every woman will want to read about. Somewhere along your midlife journey you find your energy flagging and your body sagging. You just need a new strategy to adapt and adjust to these mental and physical changes so you can optimize your health, appearance and well-being during these transitional years.

Dr. Thacker is spot on in her coverage of hot flashes, night sweats, sleep and sex. A powerful punch is packed by her coverage of hormonal replacement therapy. Her coverage of this subject uses the latest research to help any woman make a decision about pursuing this option. Customizing hormonal therapy is what each woman seeks to do and Dr. Thacker covers this topic with mastery.

Finally, I found the appendices to be quite helpful, covering topics from the challenges of care-giving to the pros and cons of using compounding pharmacies. I highly recommend this book to women who want to empower themselves with information, as Dr. Thacker says, "to gain control over our health, feel good about ourselves as our bodies change and mature, and enjoy our relationships more fully." Amen!

For more information on menopause, download the Free Guide to Managing Menopause.