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"MENOPAUSE" comes from the Greek: "men" meaning "month" and "pausis," meaning halt. Menopause, a natural stage of a woman's life, has gained increasing interest in the last decade among baby boomers experiencing "The Pause" and from the medical community. At the same time, the women's health movement that began three decades ago has resulted in growing attention to feminine health concerns and a greater participation of women in research.
As women have gone from a silent majority to an increasingly vocal one, governments are responding to demands for more funding for research on women's health issues. In addition, women are considered a major market for both pharmaceutical companies and providers of alternative medicine. In short, menopause is big business nowadays.
Publishers gain ground
Back in the 1950s and 1960s, menopause was treated as a disease of estrogen deficiency. Not surprisingly, therefore, discussion on the topic was confined to medical publications. Since the late 1980s, however, the publishing industry has produced an overflow of popular titles on the "afternoon" of women's lives. Increased recognition of the role that nutrition, exercise, and lifestyle play in midlife health and well-being has added another dimension to the menopause publishing market.
At the same time, alternative and complementary medicine, nourished by women's growing distrust of the medical establishment, has blossomed into a major industry. While these books often make claims that are dubious and difficult to prove, many offer sound advice and practices that have helped numerous women. Publishers such as Prima, Hunter House, Avery, and Lowell House publish a growing number of books on the topic.
Medical centers and organizations such as the North American Menopause Society offer a wealth of resources as well. And, of course, the Internet has generated a number of web sites devoted to menopause and related issues. While it is sometimes difficult to assess the accuracy of these cybersources, they can serve as an excellent starting point for research and consumer awareness.
The sheer volume of titles and the variety of formats make it difficult for women to choose what is the most relevant and helpful. Moreover, women are faced with the challenge of weighing two vastly different treatments for the unpleasant side effects many women experience: hormone replacement therapy (HRT) vs. alternative approaches. Each avenue has its advantages and risks, its proponents and detractors. Unfortunately, the research in this area has been controversial and in many ways inconclusive. The latest research, indeed, has clouded some of the claimed benefits of HRT, while alternative therapies are not often backed by clinical evidence.
Most collections cannot do without a few titles on basic anatomy and physiology for reference purposes. To build a collection, librarians must select resources that reflect different perspectives on menopause including biological, social, cultural, feminist, medical, complementary, and holistic approaches.
The titles presented here include several on osteoporosis, a major complication of the postmenopausal years. Titles on heart disease and breast cancer, two other major risk factors of this stage of women's life, have been covered elsewhere and are omitted here. Only one title below covers the unique concerns of lesbians, and there are none dealing in-depth with the specific needs of women living with diabetes or physical disabilities. In addition, few resources address women's experiences from their cultural perspectives, reflecting the dearth of publishing in these areas.
When weeding …