In 1961, a momentous shift in women’s fertility management occurred. The birth control pill was made available. With the knowledge that women could flick the off switch on their fertility at will, they were able to focus more on their education and careers without unexpected pregnancies creating sudden diversions on the path. In terms of women’s rights, liberties and equality, the pill represented a revolution. Yet it also represented an en masse disconnection with the feminine ecology. More and more, women are realising that the pill is always what they were led to believe. It is a very common phenomenon when women take themselves off the pill that their periods don’t resume business as usual straight away.
In “Period Repair Manual”, naturopathic physician and former evolutionary biologist Lara Briden has created a compendium for women whose cycles are struggling to find their balance. The book in its entirety reads as a beacon of common sense combined with naturopathic principles to bring wayward menstrual cycles back into alignment.
At its core, “Period Repair Manual” is simple. As Albert Einstein once said, ”if you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough”. Lara’s simplicity is evidently born from a deep understanding of the complexities of the menstrual cycle (believe me, open up a textbook on endocrinology and you’ll see how the hormone system is one intricate masterpiece of complexities!).
I would recommend this book for women who want to know more about the cogs and wheels of how their wombs work, are coming off hormonal birth control or experiencing any menstrual cycle irregularities. It reads with an understandable clarity and would be appropriate for even a teenage girl. Especially one who finds science fascinating.
As the title suggests, this book is like a toolbox with many different strategies, diet changes and natural remedies that can be applied to many different problems. Whether you’re experiencing long, short, heavy, light or non-existent periods – there will be something useful and applicable to every woman.
Lara is one of the strongest (and most informed) voices on setting the record straight on how the pill, and other hormonal forms of contraception, are affecting the body, their side effects and long-term consequences.
She encourages the reader to not fall for the softened narrative that women are often led to believe about the pill. The most common being that the pill is “just tricking your body into thinking it’s pregnant” or “it’s helping your body to have a period”. Another I hear often in practice is “that the pill is regulating your hormones”. (Proverbial palm to forehead).
The cute girl names that are given to the medications themselves, like Miranda, Elanor, Yasmin all sound like sweet friends, rather than hormonal suppressing agents. On a biological level, the interaction of the pill with our body is a form of hormonal anesthetization. The medication literally switches off our own female hormones.
The bleeding women experience whilst on the pill is not “a period”, it is simply a consequence of medication withdrawal. The pill has many side effects, including affecting the gut flora, depression, anxiety and low sex drive. Because these symptoms are all too common they are rarely linked with the pill. And it is this issue that forms the central theme of this book.
It’s not all doom and gloom, Lara presents and explains all the other natural alternatives and a roadmap of how to transition on to them. And does a very good job of this.
My favourite part of the book is the “How to Speak to your Doctor” chapter. It is the ultimate empowerment being equipt to go into your doctor’s office with knowledge of your body and what you need their help to know. Lara guides you through very clear questions to ask. Instead of being vague or going in all guns blazing, the advice and questions equip you with a very sensible middle road. It’s a valuable tool.
But as informative and accessible as “Period Repair Manual” is, what makes the book most rewarding is Lara’s clarion call to women to take their health into their own hands and to question the status quo. It takes courage for a health professional to take an oppositional stance to what is one of the most commonly prescribed prescription medications. Lara’s work bears the mark of a women’s health classic that every person with a womb should read.
If you’d like to purchase Period Repair Manual, you can pop over to Fish Pond and have it on your way. Lara also writes a great blog called The Healthy Hormone Blog, which is an excellent resource. Happy reading!