Posted by: Amy | February 22, 2011

BOOK REVIEW – The Hormonally Vulnerable Woman

What woman hasn’t experienced mood swings, food cravings, breakouts, bloating, hair loss, fatigue, or anxiety from time to time? Yet, many of us with PCOS struggle with these hormonal problems on a daily basis. We are particularly sensitive to our own hormones, sometimes even when levels are supposedly normal. Dr. Geoffrey Redmond, M.D. has described this condition as hormonal vulnerability in his book entitled, The Hormonally Vulnerable Woman.

Dr. Redmond is a New York City based endocrinologist and has treated nearly ten thousand women with hormonal disorders over the past two decades. He comes across attuned and even sympathetic, to how PCOS symptoms if left unchecked, can affect a woman’s quality of life. Dr. Redmond insists that, “No matter how discouraged you may be, no matter how many health care professionals you have seen, how many medications or herbs you have taken, or how many times you almost gave up, you can feel yourself again. This book will show you how.”

Throughout the book’s 450 pages, Dr. Redmond accomplishes this task. The early chapters provide a straightforward and easy to understand overview of what hormones do and why. Subsequent chapters provide in-depth information on hormonal vulnerabilities and suggested treatment. Topics include abnormal cycles, PMS (which includes a very comprehensive holistic approach to treatment), endometriosis, fibromyalgia, migraines, low sex drive, hirsutism, alopecia, acne, menopause and finally PCOS.

PCOS is described as the “the ultimate hormonal vulnerability syndrome” in which most of the important hormones get out of sync. The key to making sense of PCOS is recognizing that it is not one condition but many. What matters is which aspects of the condition a woman has and which she does not have. From this a treatment plan can be devised.

As Dr. Redmond stresses, “The take-home message is this: All PCOS can be effectively treated, but there is no single treatment for all women with PCOS.” The treatment plan options that are outlined for PCOS unfortunately do not include any alternative therapies. Throughout the book Dr. Redmond advocates a holistic approach to managing hormones, especially PMS which can be managed with the use of botanicals and other alternative therapies such as acupuncture and yoga. It was disappointing not to see a more holistic treatment plan for PCOS. From a personal perspective, I have experienced a dramatic lowering of insulin levels through the use of botanicals and dietary supplements in lieu of pharmaceuticals.

I particularly found the information on oral contraceptives (OC) enlightening. I discovered that I was using what was described as the worst OC – Loestrin because it has too much “mood-unfriendly progestin.” Dr. Redmond suggests any of the nonandrogenic pills such as Yasmin, Ortho-Cyclen or Desogen for the management of excess androgen. The information provided will help to select the right OC for your personal hormonal balance.

Finding relief from the symptoms of PCOS can be a long journey. As Dr. Redmond encourages, “You will, of course, need a physician who is both knowledgeable and willing to listen…As with other forms of hormonal vulnerability, learning to be your own advocate is the key.” By empowering women with the background they need to raise their doctors’ consciousness about hormones, The Hormonally Vulnerable Woman proves to be an excellent guidebook to help navigate the road ahead.

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