Quite possibly every female over the age of 12 will find this huge book enlightening, pain saving, and perhaps even lifesaving. Think of it as a much more empowering and holistic Our Bodies, Ourselves. Northrup is a gynecologist who acknowledges the power of natural therapies and herbs, but also maintains that allopathic treatments, including surgery, are sometimes best. In Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom, she covers the treatment of many physical concerns–among them PMS, menstrual cramps, breast cancer, fibroids, endometriosis, infertility, depression, childbirth, abortion, cystitis, and menopause–explaining how many of these physical problems have roots in emotional upsets. For example, a woman who is unhappy with her marriage may be infertile because deep down, she knows that her husband is not the right man to have children with; a teenager who has cramps may be having problems accepting society’s expectations of her as a woman.
Some readers may be put off at first by Northrup’s obviously unconventional ways of thinking. Her medical approach is decidedly feminist, blaming our “addictive” and patriarchal society for many of the health problems plaguing women. She clearly illustrates her ideas, however, by drawing upon two decades of experience from her medical practice and citing dozens of her patients’ remarkable personal stories. Northrup also delineates the best way to go about tuning in to one’s body and mind in order to start the healing process, a self-induced therapy of sorts. She also includes in the book a copy of the eye-opening health inventory she gives her clients. It includes unusual questions such as “Are you bored with your life?” and “Do you have enough friends or neighbors?”
This book will be of special benefit to women who are pregnant or entering menopause. Northrup is an unequivocal believer in natural births and her dialogue on the birthing process will remove the fears of even the most petrified mother-to-be. She criticizes episiotomies (she should know; she’s given birth without one) and supports midwifery. She also warns against the harmfulness of cesarean births and includes illustrations of acupressure points that help turn around a breech baby.
For women in perimenopause or menopause, Northrup will help turn this life phase into one of peace and personal growth instead of one of suffering. She was one of the first doctors to use natural progesterone to treat menopausal symptoms, and this revised edition includes a clear primer on the latest in hormone replacement therapy and how to determine if it’s right for you. Northrup also expounds upon the benefits of acupuncture and herbalism–as well as emotional self-analysis–for alleviating hot flashes and mood swings. –Erica Jorgensen