Foreword by Jane Heimlich

Title Page, Take Charge of Your Body A Women's Health Advisor, by Dr. Carolyn DeMarco Intro - 1 Introduction, Take Charge of Your Body A Women's Health Advisor, by Dr. Carolyn DeMarco Intro - 3

Reflecting on my (blessedly few) encounters with the medical profession, I realize from the vantage point of an "older woman," that the advice these male doctors gave me was uniformly harmful to my health and unborn child.

When pregnant, monthly visits to the obstetrician mainly consisted of lining up to be weighed by the nurse, who cast a baleful eye on any among us who had gained a few pounds. Incredible as it sounds, during the 1950s, doctors warned against normal weight gain as increasing the risk of toxemia. This same obstetrician, also espousing the view that formula was superior to breast milk, did his best to dissuade me from breast feeding. ("Your breasts will look like shrunken sacks!").

Later, developing amenorrhea (cessation of menstruation), I allowed an endocrinologist to pump me full of hormones which made me so jittery I couldn't sleep at night. (This endocrinologist never addressed me by name or asked me about my diet, which, at the time, barely sustained me let alone a baby.) Years later, after finally calling a halt to these shots, my periods resumed, and I gave birth to twin daughters.

Today, with doctors promoting the hysterectomy, and other operations that are, in most cases, unnecessary, and prescribing a dizzying number of drugs from tranquilizers to hormone replacement therapy, women are at even greater risk of being victimized by the medical profession.

If you feel cowed by the medical "experts," are dissatisfied with the medical care you've received or have even been harmed by certain aggressive treatments, you need help from a compassionate woman doctor who understands your needs, can give you the facts about your body, advise you about conditions that worry you, and give you confidence in your powers as a woman.

That individual is Dr. Carolyn DeMarco, a "woman's health advisor," whose remarkable book, Take Charge of Your Body, you hold in your hands.

I have read and reread Dr. DeMarco's book and, with each reading, I am struck by the wealth of information contained in this beautifully organized, highly readable book which covers every stage of a woman's life. Here is information you're not likely to find elsewhere ... about women and alcohol, depression as related to low self esteem, the bladder condition that's often diagnosed incorrectly, current research on electromagnetic radiation, postpartum thyroiditis, a unique treatment for cystic breast disease, and natural alternatives to hormone replacement therapy.

DeMarco asks questions that other doctors should be asking and rarely do such as, is ultrasound really beneficial for the baby or the mother? As an advocate for her sisters, she scorns diplomatic docterese and gives us the facts. ("Episiotomy is an unnecessary procedure.") Some of my favourite sections are those that go beyond health issues such as women's work, and the very moving discussion of grief.

As a veteran health writer, I'm accustomed to doctor books in which the author reminisces about his favourite cases that may have little relevance to the reader's problems. Not this one. DeMarco, who is unbelievably free of ego, not only provides matchless advice in each chapter, but refers you to other authorities and books.

Furthermore, she is a consummate researcher providing information on the latest studies and treatments, consumer information and self-help groups, so you have at your finger tips a list of invaluable resources, replete with telephone numbers, addresses and product costs.

This is a book to treasure but I don't recommend sharing it with others--you may never get it back. Instead, buy copies for your daughters, your women relatives, your best friend, and give them the tools to reclaim our heritage as wise women and healers.

Jane Heimlich

Author, What Your Doctor Won't Tell You

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