book reviews, healthcare

Dr. Jen Gunter gets real about menopause in her book, The Menopause Manifesto…

I hate going to see physicians. At this writing, I have not seen a medical doctor since 2010. I have not seen an OB-GYN since 1995. I realize that avoiding doctors, especially at my age, isn’t the wisest policy. Sometimes, my reluctance to go to the doctor causes me anxiety. Unfortunately, I had a really terrible experience with an OB-GYN that has made me a bit phobic. Still, I realize that at 49 years of age, I am teetering on the brink of menopause. I’m not there yet, but I know it’s coming. That’s why I downloaded Jen Gunter’s book, The Menopause Manifesto: Own Your Health with Facts and Feminism, which was first made available on May 25, 2021.

I first discovered Dr. Gunter on Facebook. She has a popular Facebook page where she discusses current events that relate to feminism and women’s health. I like her a lot. I think I would even consider seeing her as a patient, if I lived in a place where that was possible to do. She’s a straight talker who is relatable and even funny, and I get the sense that she’s not only knowledgable, but she also cares.

Gunter wrote another book called The Vagina Bible, which was published in August 2019. I haven’t read that book yet, mainly because I figured I’d rather have it in printed form. I think most reference books are better when I can page through them manually, rather than read them on a device. But I’ve enjoyed The Menopause Manifesto so much that I decided to download The Vagina Bible. I don’t think that will be the next book I read… I need to take a break from reading about women’s health. But I do plan to read it, because I’ve discovered that Gunter is good at marrying facts with an entertaining writing style.

I like that Dr. Gunter blended her own personal experiences with menopause with medical science. Her personal touch made her seem more relatable and “human” to me. I’ve found that a lot of physicians come off as not like regular people, even though I know intellectually that they are most definitely human. Still, it felt like I was reading something written by a girlfriend as I learned about what probably awaits me when Aunt Flow finally packs her bags and vacates permanently.

I’m sure I’ll soon be well acquainted with “hot flushes” and night sweats… Dr. Gunter doesn’t like the more popular term, “hot flash”, because she says it’s not a particularly accurate description. “Hot flash” makes it sound like the sudden heat is something that happens in a second. According to the doctor, “hot flashes” take longer than a flash. At this point, I will take her word for it. I haven’t experienced one yet, but I know they’re coming. My mom and sisters have all had them. In fact, I remember when my eldest sister went through menopause. I was sitting next to her and she said, “Oh, I’m having a hot flash.” I kind of shrieked and shrank away from her. She laughed and said, “It’s not contagious!” I like that Gunter discusses these phenomenons that women universally go through with candor and humor, backed by medical facts and cutting edge research. She also adds pithy comments like, “I just want to acknowledge the ‘suckitude’.”

This book includes a broad array of topics, including contraception and the risks of “change of life” pregnancies. She does include a lot of her personal opinions, to include her views on men and vasectomies. She thinks men need to “step up” more and get “snipped” so the burden of birth control doesn’t fall entirely to women (since a lot of men prefer not to wear condoms every time they have sex). Personally, I’m not the biggest fan of women who pressure men to be permanently sterilized. My husband was pressured to get a vasectomy for his ex wife. Then they got divorced, and she had two more kids. Meanwhile, I was never able to have children in the easiest way.

I suppose if I’d really wanted to have kids, I could have made it happen, but it would have required a great deal of expense with no guarantee of success. Bill also had his vasectomy reversed, which was definitely an ordeal. Fortunately, we didn’t have to pay for the procedure, since the Army did it for free. However, the reversal was not painless, nor was it simple. I think it’s irresponsible to present vasectomies as if reversing them is easy and will always end in success. It’s not easy and doesn’t always end in success, and I know this firsthand. I did like that Dr. Gunter described vasectomies and tubal ligations as permanent birth control, because that is precisely what they are, and what they were intended to be, even if they can be successfully reversed in many cases.

Anyway, the point is, I disagree with Dr. Gunter on her views about pressuring men to have vasectomies. I don’t think it’s right to push elective surgeries on someone else, especially since they will have to live with the outcome. I wouldn’t like it if my husband tried to pressure me into having elective surgery, although I am very grateful that he chose to have a vasectomy reversal for my benefit. But that’s just me. I also realize that my opinion isn’t necessarily a popular view, and I understand why it isn’t popular.

Overall, I think this book is useful, especially for women in their 40s and 50s. It’s well-written, yet personable and sometimes even funny. Dr. Gunter has a lively, honest, and engaging writing style. Even though I don’t necessarily agree with some of Dr. Gunter’s opinions, I like that she’s all about empowering women, busting myths, and encouraging her readers to take good care of themselves. I think that’s what a book about menopause should do. I’ve read other books about women’s health, some of which were pretty terrible– perhaps because they were written by men. Dr. Gunter doesn’t condescend to her readers. She comes across as an advocate and a friend, and she delivers frankness with kindness and empathy. We should all have access to physicians like Dr. Jen Gunter! If you can’t see her in person, try reading her books! Or, at least, visit her page on Facebook or her official Web site, which are both linked in today’s post.

Well… I’d like to go on with this book review, but Noyzi the Kosovar monster dog is barking at me, demanding a walk. He’s come a long way from the scared pooch he was last fall. Below is a video I took a little while ago. He’s being even more insistent as I write these last sentences, so I guess I’d better heed the call before he goes nuts. He didn’t get a walk yesterday, because Arran went in for a dental… I guess I’m hearing the protests now! Arran is also growling menacingly, so I’d better give them their daily stroll.

Noyzi NEEDS his walk NOW.

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