Taking Charge of Your Fertility– Book Review

Over the years I have ruined many a set of underpants when my period started early, again. I bought Taking Charge of Your Fertility By Toni Wechler MPH because I read somewhere that learning about how your cycle worked could help you figure out when your period was going to happen exactly, which I thought sounded great.

I have owned the book for less than one cycle and have learned so much from reading it that even if I still can’t pinpoint the beginning of my period after a few months it has been worth the money that I paid for it. I now understand all of the five star reviews on Amazon.

I feel now that my school education about reproductive health was more than inadequate: it was negligent. Many of the things I learned were wrong or outright lies which perpetuated a myth that female fertility is as mysterious and unknowable as how to win the lottery. Chance is not a kind thing and most of us deal with chance by ignoring it because its not worth worrying about. However this book made it clear to me that the female cycle is not random, there is a pattern, and that if you know what to look for you can in fact be generally aware of when you will get pregnant and when you will not get pregnant. If I had read this book when I had been a teenager I would have saved myself a lot of worry and anxiety, not to mention money, over the years.

If I had been charting my cycle it would have saved me tons of pregnancy tests and perhaps avoided taking the day after pill that one time with all of its unpleasant “side effects” because I would have known if there was a chance that I could get pregnant or not. Charting would have also helped me not be deceived into thinking that I had a yeast overgrowth for two years. Which I treated like any sane person would with many anti-yeast kits. But it was not a yeast infection at all and everything was just fine. What a waste of money!

So if this book is so wonderful why are there so many critical comments on Amazon? Like many medical professionals the author has a tendency to cover her butt and be a bit condescending.  I tried to ignore that because it seemed that she really did mean well.

I did get the feeling that the book was really aimed towards couples with infertility. Many of the other sections are less thorough. The author knows a lot about fertility, conception and contraception so chapters about those points are fine, but her chapter on menopause is disappointing. It seemed to me 16 pages should have more to say than “Yup, hot flashes suck. You need to chart your fertility, which will be erratic. No one knows why those things happen. Hormone replacement therapy is an option but I can’t tell you if its a good idea or not. Do some research.” She could have just added charting during peri-menopause to the chapter about charting irregular periods. Datis Kharrazian only had nine pages about menopause in his book “Why is My Brain Not Working”, but he had many pertinent things to say about it and if you are going though menopause, his book is probably worth looking at.

My biggest problem with the book, is how it was arranged. (I did not read the most recent version of the book so perhaps the updated version is better). Obviously from the five star reviews the way it is done was great for for many people, but I found her compartmentalized style confusing. I had to read both the contraception and how to get pregnant sections just to get an idea of how to chart! I’m glad I did, though, because  information that should have been in both sections was not.

Also when I have had a specific question that I know is answered in the book (because I read it there) I have been unable to use the index to find the information again and I ended up resorting to the internet.

Despite this books flaws, I would say that it is a illuminating read and every woman should know what is in its pages. Actually every man should too.

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