***Drop in to http://infinitereads.com/ for more reviews and thoughts!***
I loved some aspects of the book and would recommend it to anyone struggling with POI or POF. First, it explains the difference between premature menopause, primary ovarian failure/insufficiency (POF or POI) and secondary ovarian failure/insufficiency. The terms are not interchangeable, and underlying causes may or may not be the same.
The book’s symptom list alone is far more exhaustive than I have found anywhere else and covered symptoms I did not even realize were related to ovarian failure. Those palpitations that I feared were an early manifestation of my family’s terrible cardiac genes? Nope, they’re common in women with ovarian failure. My sudden need to go to the bathroom ALL the time? Probably not a sign of diabetes. Reading the list made me sad and angry (how can one problem cause so many annoying or life-altering symptoms?), but realizing some of my more frightening health bugaboos were just symptoms of my hormonal problems laid some fears to rest.
Possible causes are covered to the best of the authors’ ability, though they freely admit that medical research in this subject is still in its infancy, so most women will never know why POF or POI has affected them, and there is no cure. The tone is compassionate but upbeat as the authors discuss both prescription and alternative symptom management options as well as fertility treatment possibilities.
As resources for this problem go, this book is excellent. However, I did have four complaints:
1. The title. Before Your Time? Did I die in a fiery accident and someone forgot to tell me? First of all, there is no set age at which menopause should occur, and ovarian dysfunction can happen to any woman at any age. Experiencing this change before the stereotypical time frame doesn’t mean you’re hitting some cosmic deadline too soon. Your body is unique and runs on its own schedule. Just as you didn’t hit puberty at the same exact second as every other girl you knew, you aren’t necessarily going to hit menopause on your 50th birthday. Second, menopause isn’t a death sentence for young women any more than it is for women in their 50s and 60s. While your risk of heart disease and osteoporosis among other bugaboos (dementia, anyone?) does go up, with management and treatment you can keep living an active, healthy life. Life does not end when fertility is gone.
The subtitle is no better: while this book does touch on early menopause a couple of times, I’d estimate that 95% of it is actually about POF and POI, which again are not exactly the same thing. I suppose the authors used “early menopause” in the title because POF and POI are not well-known terms, but could they not have said “Early Menopause and Ovarian Failure Survival Guide”? Three little extra words to raise awareness and accuracy? I nearly passed this book over because I had other books on menopause already, and I am not IN menopause. If I had not read it, I would not have known it applied to me as well.
2. The cover art. The single, discreet tulip on the cover only adds to the “let’s plan your funeral” design vibe.
3. The attitude (at times). Yes, it’s a crummy situation to find yourself in: You’re 20 or 30, you should be having a great sex life and possibly some kids, but instead you’re having hot flashes, can’t remember your own name half the time, and you’re afraid you’re going to need to steal from Grandma’s stash of Depends, and that’s not even getting started on the osteoporosis risk. I’m sure for many women, it does cause a complete identity crisis. However, some women, including myself, are not going to feel that their entire sense of self has to change because of a POI diagnosis. This book made the self-doubt sound so inevitable that I wondered momentarily if I might be in denial!
4. The sex chapter. Since the authors started off putting so much emphasis on “This is a physical problem with physical symptoms, so don’t let anyone tell you it’s all in your head,” I was extremely disappointed when this chapter suggested that whether or not this problem affects your sex life is indeed all in your head! The authors emphasize the old “the brain is the biggest sexual organ” and “men need a place to have sex, women need a purpose” chestnuts. They even quote an expert who says that some women find their sexual symptoms improve when they get a new partner. Rather than mention the fact that new relationships cause new chemicals to release that do indeed create more lust, the authors go on to say that making sure your relationship is secure and healthy is the most helpful thing you can do, and the rest depends on your attitude. Nowhere does it say what to do if your brain still thinks sex is a great idea but your body is out to lunch. I was so disappointed.
If you or someone you love is struggling with premature menopause, POI, or POF, this book is a must. However, don’t stop with this book. It has some great information, but it’s an incomplete resource.