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Words to the Wise

One Menopause Book Is For Dummies, Another Is for Idiots and a Third Is Written by . . . a Man! Our Reviewer Struggles to Make the Smart Choice

By Stefanie Weiss
Special to The Washington Post
Tuesday, February 8, 2005; Page HE01

"I've been menstruating for 33 years now and, frankly, I think that's enough. I'm ready to get off this LifeCycle, once and for all. I've got no patience for winding down over a period of years -- or years of more periods. In fact, I've got no patience for anything. I'm crabby. I'm finished. Flip the switch."

My gynecologist wasn't in the mood to hear my bring-it-on menopause tirade. "Be careful what you wish for," she warned.

Dummies: As uneven as readers' mental state. Pun alert: Know the "shape urine."

_____Live Discussion_____
Marcia Jones will be online Tuesday, Feb. 8, at 2 p.m. ET to take your questions about women's health and the various stages of menopause and how it can affect your body, your emotions, and your libido.

I was too busy whining to pay much attention at the time. But I've thought of her comment often in the months since my appointment. I'm looking forward to the thrill of whizzing past the tampon aisle, sleeping peacefully and even occasionally smiling at colleagues. I haven't thought much beyond that. After years of suffering through this flickering-light stage of fertility, are things going to get worse?

I headed to a big-box bookstore to search for clues. On the women's health shelves, I found, count 'em, 46 books on menopause -- one for each year I've been around. But who wants to spend a lifetime reading menopause books (last one to finish is a rotten egg)? I certainly didn't have the patience for "The Wisdom of Menopause," a 600-pager by women's health guru Christiane Northrup. Nope, I wanted short answers in short order.

So I did what we pseudo-self-deprecating Americans have been known to do from the dawn of the technology age. I picked up a black-and-yellow book aimed explicitly at the clueless skimmer. In this case, it was "Menopause for Dummies."

In a nod to the competition, I picked up the book next door, "A Complete Idiot's Guide to Menopause." And then I noticed the somewhat blurry cover type of a book called "The Midlife Bible: A Woman's Survival Guide" by . . . Michael Goodman. This has to be for morons, I thought. What woman at this stage in her life needs a man to tell her how to survive?

I bought all three. I'd learn something about menopause, sure, but while I was at it, I would answer a much more critical question that's not for women only: Do you get more for your money by identifying yourself as a dummy, an idiot, or a moron?

Menopause for Dummies: A Reference for the Rest of Us!

Marcia Jones and Theresa Eichenwald, M.D. (Wiley Publishing Inc., 2003, 336 pp, $21.99)

This book is wildly uneven, which perhaps aptly reflects the mental status of its readers.

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