ABC News medical contributor Dr. Marie Savard tackles the most intimate questions women have about the female reproductive system in her new book, "Ask Dr. Marie: Straight Talk and Reassuring Answers to Your Most Private Questions." In a tone a best friend or sister might take, Savard explains what's normal and what women should do when they believe they have problems.
Savard tackles issues according to life stages, moving from menstruation to menopause and beyond. She also describes how to get the health care you need and ways to make the most of the little time you have during a doctor's appointment.
Read an excerpt of the book below, and head to the "GMA" Library for more good reads.
The average life expectancy of a woman born in 1900 was forty-nine. Since the age when most women have their final period is about fifty-two, she might not have reached that milestone. You, on the other hand, are statistically likely to be around to enjoy a substantial number of years when birth control is no longer necessary, the nest is empty, and retirement or an "encore career" has made the rat race a mere memory. In addition, the low-maintenance pleasures of grand-parenting may be yours. And if you're lucky enough to be among the estimated 20 percent of women who experience few or no menopausal symptoms, you may sail through this life event wondering what all the fuss is about when it comes to the debate over the various types of Hormone Therapy including bio-identical hormones. Still, no less a source than the National Institutes of Health reports that some 60 percent of women have symptoms bothersome enough to merit treatment. What's more, an additional 20 percent have symptoms that are severe and even disabling. In other words, menopause is no picnic for a great many women. I speak from experience! Also, even women who have an easy time of it need to learn to live well with the new reality of a postmenopausal body.
Lost in the chorus of conflicting claims about what women should or shouldn't do for symptomatic relief of menopausal symptoms is the fact that menopause ushers in lasting transformations in a woman's body. In other words, menopause really is a "change." After you have had your final period ever and the hot flashes— if any—simmer down at last, you are different in six important ways. Some of these are attributable solely to menopause while others also have to do with the effects of aging in general. Together they constitute that "new reality" I mentioned and they all need your attention if you're going to maintain your health.
Here is what will be new about your postmenopausal body.