What Every Women Needs to Know: Two Books with Answers

Friday, March 29th, 2013

Square One Publishers (www.squareonepublishers.com) has two books with valuable information about female hormones that every woman needs to know to stay healthy and in balance throughout her life cycles from menarche to post-menopausal zest.

The first book, What You Must Know About Women’s Hormones by Pamela Wartian Smith, MD, MPH, is an encyclopedic-rendered primer for all women. The first part is simply called Hormones, which the author defines as “chemical substances that control and regulate the activity of certain cells or organs.”  Her analogy is that hormones interact with one another much like “a symphony that must play in tune in order for you to feel great and be healthy.”

Each of the hormones defined and discussed is done with a list that delineates the function of the hormone, (for example, estrogen), as well as a list of symptoms of estrogen deficiency as well as excess estrogen, and causes of either the deficiency or excess. Every hormone is clearly explained in this way, with intervening paragraphs explaining the importance of the hormone and what you can do to restore any imbalances. The lists and explanations make this an excellent reference to consult  before seeing a doctor or for your own edification.

Part II is called Ailments and Problems and is more of a glossary of these issues, for example, cancer.  Suggested supplementation for cancer prevention is listed in chart form as well as a few pages of text explaining each of the major forms of cancer for women: breast, ovarian, uterine and cervical. As the author explains, her information is not meant to be exhaustive, but rather more like a survey of these cancers and suggestions for healing with the guidance of your doctor. Again, the use of charts makes this a ready reference.

Part III is a brief section on Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT): what it is, problems with synthetic HRT, a discussion of natural HRT, hormone testing and methods and suggested supplementation. A conclusion and very helpful summary, as well as resources and references follow this short section.

The second book, What You Must Know About Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy by Amy Lee Hawkins, Pharm. D is not quite as encyclopedic, but I would still categorize it as a reference book.  In some ways it is the reverse of the first book in that Women’s Hormone’s has only a very brief section on HRT, whereas in this Hawkin’s book, HRT is the focus.

As with Women’s Hormones, the first section introduces the major hormones. The list in this book is almost identical to the one in Women’s Hormones, with one difference. In the latter prolactin is discussed and in the one on bioidentical HRT, Vitamin D is discussed.  Also, Women’s Hormones has about 55 pages on hormones, while Bioidentical Hormone Therapy Replacement devotes 39 pages to hormones and the rest of the book on the title’s topic in three chapters: Hormone Replacement Therapy (explained), Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy Guidelines, and Alternatives to Hormone Replacement Therapy. I especially liked this last chapter, since I did not choose HRT, bioidentical or otherwise. This chapter focuses on lifestyle changes such as ways to reduce stress, dietary options, and nutritional supplements. The author also discusses prescription drugs as an option.

Also, in this last section, Hawkins discusses exercise so that women lose fat, nut muscle.  I found this discussion very helpful, since as we age, we seem to lose muscle mass as well as gain weight. I am following the author’s recommendations on adding high-intensity interval training to my exercise regimen. In fact, the entire last section on alternatives includes common sense suggestions that women of any age can follow and garner benefits.

I believe that these two books on women’s hormones and how they impact on health are like a set of bookends: one book end (Women’s Hormones) discusses important hormones in great detail with lists and charts and takes the reader up to an introduction to HRT, while the second bookend, What You Must Know About Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy, focuses on changes that take place in our hormones as we go through menopause and how we can remain healthy with lifestyle changes: good food, supplements, exercise and a positive state of mind as you re-evaluate your life. Both books hold up their ends quite well!

Square One Publishing and the authors of these two books have done a wonderful service to women who are in the dark about how hormonal changes impact their mental, physical, and spiritual selves as they progress and evolve through the female lifecycle. Each book is $17.95 and available through online book sites or in bookstores. At this reasonable price, I would recommend both!