Tuesday 4 February 2020

The Feel Good Guide to Menopause by Dr Nicola Gates #AWW

I started reading perimenopause/menopause books back in 2015 after noticing changes to the way I was experiencing my body.

Five years later, I'm still waiting. Still wondering, and wishing it was all over.
Most of my friends seem to be there. Many of my friends didn't even know it was about to happen; it just happened. They were just suddenly done.

I read The Feel Good Guide to Menopause early last year and have been dipping in and out of it ever since. I'll be going along fine for months, then suddenly a weird phase or another weird symptom will pop up. I'll pull out this book, find the appropriate chapter and realise that I've simply ticked off yet another marker along the way. It would seem that I am determined, in my usual uber-conscientious way, to complete this journey by going through every single stage!

Dr Nicola Gates is an Australian neuropsychologist and psychologist, 'working with adults to improve brain health, cognitive function and mental wellbeing.' She has written an easy to read, stage by stage book. She focuses on the facts, health and hormones. She helps you to check your attitudes and smashes assumptions and myths. Sleep, sex and self-care are all covered as are all the various options available to women once they actually stop. I look forward to reading those sections more thoroughly one day!

If you're one of the lucky 10% that experienced no symptoms, then you can skip this book. For the rest of us, books like this (and Jean Kittson's more humorous one linked below) are a god-send. They save you from having to run to the doctor every single time you notice something odd happening. They help you to realise you're not alone or weird. And they help you to see that a positive, proactive attitude combined with a good dose of humour does actually help for some of it.

It can be rather frustrating to realise how little is still understood about this phase of a woman's life. So much of the information and advice is trial and error, often met with a shrug of the shoulders. It doesn't help that each women will have a completely unique experience.
Peri-menopause and menopause, are entirely unpredictable. The experience of our mothers is no guide either. The start and nature of our periods throughout our lives also has no bearing on their fluctuation and cessation.

Not knowing what will happen or when is a curious state of affairs when it comes to your body. Books like this give you back a little bit of control.

As an aside, the first chapter, entitled Her-story, was a fascinating insight into how religion and medical bias has kept the female experience in the dark for so long. It has only been in the last DECADE that serious research into hormones and hormonal changes in women has even occurred. With the time lag between research and practice to general public awareness, we are still years away from knowing what is really going on in the bodies of half the population! Part of Dr Gates aim in writing this book was to close this gap.

It's time to start talking ladies!

I can also highly recommend You're Still Hot to Me by Jean Kittson.


  1. Good reference, Brona. I've experienced some symptoms, but so far they've been manageable. However, a book like this, or good websites for info, are of value, I do agree.

    1. Yes, all of my symptoms have mostly been manageable too, it's just that I'm experiencing every single one possible!

  2. I'm having quite a lot of problems with this part of my life, although I kept thinking I could muddle through, so books like these are welcome.

    1. That's the frustrating thing isn't it Marina - lots of muddling through, waiting to see what will happen next. I hope you find some answers soon.

  3. It's great there's so much public discussion and resources available now, compared to what it must have been like for our mothers and grandmothers.

    And I find it interesting that the book says that the experiences of family members aren't necessarily illuminating for the experiences of later generations. That makes complete sense, given the amount of disruption to our endocrine systems through environmental changes (e.g. plastics in the water supply, hormones added to foods and beauty products, increased consumption of foods that directly impact our hormones and used to be consumed rarely if at all) that previous generations wouldn't have had to deal with.

    I enjoyed reading about this: thanks for posting!

    1. All of those factors certainly play a role, but I understand that the biggest ones are still reflect our unique and individual adult experiences, from the number of children, or not, that we have, our overall health throughout our lifetime, our diet, work and socio-economic status. Also we're living longer, so more women are actually completing menopause.

      It's encouraging that so many more books are appearing on menopause. There's a new book called The M Word: How to thrive in menopause by Ginni Mansberg which is also meant to be good.


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