Marin’s Dr Jen Gunter Shatters Menopause Myths in New Book

Menopause is a hot time.

It’s not as if women haven’t gone through the natural event, marking the moment when a woman stops having her period, forever, or at least since it was first mentioned in the past. 1500s. It’s just that women talk about it openly – well.

Menopause has made headlines in the New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, BBC, Vox and just about everywhere else in recent months.

Marin resident Dr. Jen Gunter, former IJ columnist and obstetrician-gynecologist practicing in San Francisco, adds her much-needed, scientific and pragmatic voice to the discussion, with her recently released book, “The Menopause Manifesto: Master Your Health With Facts And Feminism. ”(Kensington Books, $ 18.95) Already a New York Times bestseller, it follows 2019’s“ The Vagina Bible, ”also a Times bestseller.

Gunter will be in online conversation with Emily Willingham, award-winning science writer and Marin resident for “A Public Talk About Private Parts” via Book Passage at 6pm on June 28th.

It was while she was on a reading tour for “The Vagina Bible” that Gunter got the idea for her new book. Everywhere she went, the # 1 question women asked was about menopause.

“It made me feel like it created a safe place to talk about the vagina and the vulva opened up a space to talk about what is apparently the latest taboo. Apparently there is no greater shame than ‘a menopausal body,’ she says.

She was herself menopausal at the time, but due to her profession she is well aware of what is going on with her body and therefore not afraid of it, although she has memories of the “volcanic menopause”. ” from his mother. Not to say that she had no symptoms; she did it. “I’m probably going to end up in one of those super-flush categories,” she said, “which also gave me the impetus to focus more on my core.” There is a correlation, one that we do not often talk about.

But for many other women, and the men who can love and live with them, menopause is too often a hot, long, confusing, misunderstood, frustrating and sweaty mess. And silence about it can have a negative impact on a woman’s health.

“It’s shocking to me how many women don’t even talk about menopause with each other,” she says.

Social media has helped Generation X women, who are now entering their 40s and approaching menopause – the average age is 51 – to become more comfortable asking questions about it. And because more women are working, it’s often hard to ignore some of the symptoms, such as hot flashes – her preferred term for hot flashes. Still, misunderstandings remain, and Gunter hopes “The Menopause Manifesto” arms women with knowledge and feminism – important, she says, because much of the language around menopause is misogynistic, including the term him. -even.

The term menopause, she writes, was coined in 1821 by the French physician Dr Charles De Gardanne, who had very questionable advice for women at this stage of their life, and triggered the negative perceptions about it which still persist. today. It has also linked it forever in the minds of people as the end of female fertility, even though women have many menopause-related symptoms and health issues that begin long before their last period.

Why does society define this tiny fragment of a woman’s life, with decades ahead of her, by what’s going on with her uterus and ovaries, asks Gunter. We’re not defining the 40s of men, when many of them suffer from low sperm count or erectile dysfunction, such as an “erection,” she notes.

“We still say the loss of ovarian function. It’s not a loss, it’s a planned end, ”she said. “Your ovaries are supposed to stop working. It is not a disease, it is an evolution.

But once the word has been “armed by the pharmaceutical industry,” she writes, it is “transformed from an embarrassing phase of life into a lifelong illness that affects all women. And not just any. disease, the worst disease, the one that makes women undesirable to men.

Serious as that may be – just ask any woman over 40 who has internalized the message that she is no longer worth any more and that she is ‘invisible’ in her 40s. it’s damaging – the other diseases are the ones that concern Gunter the most. The symptoms can be worrying, the health ramifications can be fatal.

“I’m here to scare you about osteoporosis,” Gunter says in one chapter. She later wrote: “A woman dies every minute from cardiovascular disease. Do I have your attention? Good.”

While many women focus on the obvious and often bothersome symptoms of menopause – sleepless nights, hot flashes, mood swings, vaginal dryness, brain fog, weight gain – and the end of their fertility, few know that menopause can put them at an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, osteoporosis and dementia.

She tackles all of this and more, including depression, sex, bladder health, fatigue, hormone therapy, hormonal changes, and contraception – just about everything a woman could want to know and, more importantly, must know.

“Unfortunately, I don’t think a lot of doctors have been trained to proactively deal with the symptoms of menopause,” she says. “Not knowing what is going on in your body is very stressful. “

And if women are reluctant to talk about what’s going on with their bodies, they’re likely to get bad information from internet searches – she notably brushed off Gwyneth Paltrow’s questionable advice on her Goop website – and TV shows.

The book has been praised for its informative and straightforward approach to one of the most important health events in a woman’s life.

“Gunter isn’t shy about revealing ineffective and possibly dangerous menopause remedies she sees peddled by celebrities, like the much-vaunted bioidentical hormones, and thus provides excellent service to readers struggling to understand. sort through their choices, ”writes Publisher’s Weekly.

According to New Scientist, “Gunter promises to give women strength, value, agency and knowledge to help them through this transition in their lives. It has undoubtedly succeeded.

The book “provides an encyclopedic review of the history of menopause medicine, the evolutionary rewards and biology of menopause, and the many potential effects of menopause and aging on the lives of women,” notes the North American Menopause Society.

“The way we talk about menopause emphasizes the symptoms, and it’s not because the symptoms aren’t important. But there are also all of these ramifications for health, ”she says. “I encourage people to think about it, and this is going to sound really weird, your symptoms and your condition are both your children and they are both important. Don’t love one more than the other.


What: Dr Jen Gunter and Emily Willingham in conversation

When: 6 p.m. on June 2

Or: Online via Book Passage

Admission: Release


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