The New Menopause

Navigating Your Path Through Hormonal Change with Purpose, Power, and Facts

About the Book

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • Filling a gaping hole in menopause care, everything a woman needs to know to thrive during her hormonal transition and beyond, as well as the tools to help her take charge of her health at this pivotal life stage—by the bestselling author of The Galveston Diet.

Menopause is inevitable, but suffering through it is not! This is the empowering approach to self-advocacy that pioneering women’s health advocate Dr. Mary Claire Haver takes for women in the midst of hormonal change in The New Menopause. A comprehensive, authoritative book of science-backed information and lived experience, it covers every woman's needs:

• From changes in your appearance and sleep patterns to neurological, musculoskeletal, psychological, and sexual issues, a comprehensive A to Z toolkit of science-backed options for coping with symptoms.
• What to do to mediate the risks associated with your body's natural drop in estrogen production, including for diabetes, dementia, Alzheimer’s, osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease, and weight gain.
• How to advocate and prepare for annual midlife wellness visits, including questions for your doctor and how to insist on whole life care.
• The very latest research on the benefits and side effects of hormone replacement therapy.

Arming women with the power to secure vibrant health and well-being for the rest of their lives, The New Menopause is sure to become the bible of midlife wellness for present and future generations.
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Praise for The New Menopause

“[An] enlightening guide. . . . readers will welcome the affirming tone and the attention paid to less-discussed symptoms. . . . It’s an informative manual on an important yet underdiscussed health matter.”—Publishers Weekly
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Excerpt

The New Menopause

Chapter 1

It’s Not All in Your Head


“We know our bodies; we know when something physically has changed.”

“At age forty-seven, I was told by a gynecologist that perimenopause isn’t real and was asked if I had a psychiatrist.”

“I was told by my former doctor that women use menopause as an excuse to gain weight and that it’s not real.”

“I was told that it’s all in your head.”

“Welcome to your new normal.”

“It’s discouraging to not be taken seriously.”

“Consulted my ob-gyn about perimenopause and mood swings, sexual interest. She blew me off and said I was too young for menopause.”

“The migraines are a new symptom. I have only had them a few times, but they were debilitating. My doctor suggests I take Tylenol and lie down. I would prefer to address the cause and not just the symptom.”

“Dr. said it wasn’t perimenopause if I wasn’t having hot flashes.”

“I had to go to an ob-gyn and three cardiologists before I found one who believed me and had knowledge that it could be linked to hormonal changes.”

“I was sent for a full blood screening and thyroid testing. All tests came back with good results, so my complaints were not addressed further.”

“Still suffering.”

That’s just a small sampling of comments shared on my social media and in a research study on women’s experiences with menopausal symptoms. The study, published in the Journal of Women’s Health in 2023, sought to understand what kind of support a patient felt she was getting from her healthcare providers (and how that support could be improved). Overwhelmingly, the responses revealed substandard care and weak support. Many patients felt invalidated or reported that they hadn’t been provided with any help or even given access to information that would allow them to understand the cause of their symptoms. My informal “survey” on my social media posts directed to gynecology patients revealed many of the same sentiments. Women said things like “My doctor told me he doesn’t believe in perimenopause” and “I was told it’s just a natural part of aging, get over it,” and described encountering a medical attitude of “Welcome to your new normal.” Sadly, these experiences aren’t the exception, they are the rule. There are so many problems with this that I’m not even sure where to start. But first on the list is the fact that there are major medical consequences of this denial of care and guidance. If a woman in perimenopause or menopause is not getting top-notch care, it’s a matter of life and death. Really.

Here’s why: your symptoms, of which dozens (including the well-known hot flashes and the not so well-known frozen shoulder), are the direct result of declining estrogen. My patients, colleagues, and I have been taken aback by the emerging research that’s starting to explore the relationship between the menopausal drop in estrogen and issues like chronic cough, tinnitus, and benign position vertigo—just to name a few. These are issues that many women are attributing to “getting old” while they scramble to be believed, get help, and thrive during what should be a powerful and exciting time in their lives.

Estrogen isn’t just a pretty hormone that’s key to reproductive capabilities; it’s responsible for so much more. There are estrogen receptors throughout almost every organ system in your body, and as your levels drop, these cells begin to lose their ability to assist in maintaining your health in other areas, including your heart, cognitive function, bone integrity, and blood sugar balance.

The list goes on, but in these areas alone we can spot a few diseases that regularly land in the top ten causes of death in women: heart disease, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, and type 2 diabetes. While osteoporosis isn’t on this list, it still presents a serious concern, as one in two women will break a bone in their life because of bone loss from osteoporosis, and hip fractures alone are associated with a 15–20 percent increased mortality rate within one year of the break. All this is to say that estrogen is broadly and profoundly protective of your health, and its diminishing status during perimenopausal and menopausal years is a very big deal and should be treated as such.

In the pages to come, I’ll present you with a head-to-toe tour of just what you can do to prioritize taking care of yourself during this big deal phase. Before we get to the strategies, I want to take a step back and establish some foundational understanding of the myriad ways that hormone changes can present themselves and why exactly the symptoms and resulting suffering have for so long been inadequately addressed.

Estrogen Replacement and Aging

If you are a candidate for hormone therapy, its use may prolong your life: a study published in the journal Menopause reported that a woman starting estrogen at fifty can expect to live up to two years longer than women who do not, and per year it’s associated with a 20 to 50 percent decrease in dying from any cause.

So Many Symptoms, So Little Support

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: A patient walks into a bar . . . or actually, it goes . . . a patient walks into their doctor’s office first and then a bar after because they’ve been told, yet again, that the symptoms they’ve been experiencing for months, years even, are just normal or natural and associated with aging, that they’re a manifestation of mood changes that just have to be endured, or, most insulting of all, that “it’s all in your head.” (No wonder the rates of alcohol use in women have climbed, although this is not a healthy trend.)

The not-so-funny reality is that you’ve likely not only heard it before but experienced it too. The question is: Why? Why can you go to a doctor seeking help, describe your symptom or symptoms, and then walk out feeling dismissed, absent a diagnosis, and without hope of any relief on the horizon?

In medicine, we look at this question in terms of access to care. That is, if there’s an ideal patient experience, what are the barriers keeping people from having that kind of experience—the kind where a patient leaves a doctor’s office feeling supported and empowered, and outfitted with treatment options? Let’s take a look at the barriers to this kind of experience.

Lack of Awareness


One of the most significant issues responsible for inadequate treatment for those in the menopausal transition or in menopause is the insufficient understanding around its pathology, which is how an underlying condition or disease may present itself symptomatically. Changes in hormone levels can lead to a variety of symptoms that manifest in unique ways in each patient, making it difficult to recognize, diagnose, and treat.

It would serve physicians—and patients—well to get to know the list of potential symptoms because it extends far beyond hot flashes, night sweats, loss of bone density, and genitourinary symptoms. Here are many of the symptoms that may be related to perimenopause or menopause (see the Tool Kit for strategies to manage these symptoms).

Acid reflux/GERD
Acne
Alcohol Tolerance Changes
Anxiety
Arthralgia (joint pain)
Arthritis
Asthma
Autoimmune disease (new or worsening)
Bloating
Body composition changes/belly fat
Body odor
Brain fog
Breast tenderness/soreness
Brittle nails
Burning sensation in the mouth/tongue
Chronic fatigue syndrome
Crawling skin sensations
Decreased desire for sex
Dental problems
Depression
Difficulty concentrating
Dizzy spells
Dry or itchy eyes
Dry mouth
Dry skin
Eczema
Electric shock sensations
Fatigue
Fibromyalgia
Frozen shoulder
Genitourinary syndrome
Headaches
Heart palpitations
High cholesterol/high triglycerides
Hot flashes
Incontinence
Insulin resistance
Irritable bowel syndrome
Irritability
Itchy ears
Itchy skin
Kidney stones
Memory issues
Menstrual cycle changes
Mental health disorders
Migraines
Mood changes
Muscle aches
Night sweats
Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease
Osteoporosis
Pain with intercourse
Sarcopenia (muscle loss)
Sleep apnea
Sleep disturbances
Thinning hair (on head)
Thinning skin
Tingling extremities
Tinnitus
TMJ (temporomandibular disorder)
Unwanted hair growth (whiskers)
Urinary tract infections
Vaginal dryness
Vertigo
Weight gain
Wrinkles

Simply by looking at this list you can see how profoundly far-reaching hormonal changes can be, and how exactly an individual could visit nearly every medical specialty chasing a diagnosis if the common denominator of diminishing estrogen isn’t identified. This is also why menopause symptoms may be mistaken for symptoms of other conditions, leading to misdiagnosis—or how it is possible to have more than one cause of similar symptoms (hypothyroidism and perimenopause).

About the Author

Mary Claire Haver, MD
Mary Claire Haver, MD, is a board-certified OB/GYN, a Certified Culinary Medicine Specialist, a Certified Menopause Provider, and the founder of Mary Claire Wellness, a private medical practice that focuses on women in midlife. Her bestselling book, The Galveston Diet, is based on the groundbreaking nutritional protocol she developed as an online subscriber program for women going through perimenopause and menopause. She lives in Galveston, Texas. More by Mary Claire Haver, MD
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