Book Excerpt: Women's Bodies, Women's Wisdom

Christiane Northrup, MD, is a board-certified OB/GYN and authority on women’s health and wellness. Read an excerpt from her New York Times bestselling Women's Bodies, Women’s Wisdom. Click here to purchase your copy of Women's Bodies, Women's Wisdom.

Book Excerpt: Women's Bodies, Women's Wisdom

Medicine That Empowers You

One of the central outmoded ideas governing our health care system is the notion that the processes of a woman’s body are designed to cause suffering and pain, and that women require a great deal of medical care and testing to stay healthy. Though this is certainly the experience of countless women, there is another way – a better way.

In fact, the female body was designed by our creator to be a source of pleasure, fertility, movement, strength, and wellbeing. Our bodies connect us with the moon, the tides, and the seasons. We are meant to flourish. It is possible to thrive in a female body instead of simply waiting for disease to happen.

Regardless of our individual circumstances, our pasts, or our ages, each of us has inner guidance available that we can tune in to in order to create vibrant health—now. We are born with this inner guidance, which comes in the form of the emotions and desires that lead us toward things that feel good and are good for us, and away from things that feel bad and are bad for us. Though we’ve too often been talked out of our desires as children, they invariably hold the keys to healing not only our bodies but our entire lives.

As a physician, I’ve seen time and time again how our inner guidance also comes in the form of bodily symptoms and illnesses – especially when we are living lives devoid of pleasure, joy, and hope. Our illnesses are designed to stop us in our tracks, make us rest, and bring our attention back to the things that are really important and that give our lives meaning and joy – aspects of life that we often put on the back burner until “someday.”

Over the years, it became abundantly clear to me that premenstrual syndrome (PMS), pelvic pain, fibroid tumors, chronic vaginitis, breast problems, and menstrual cramps were related to the contexts of an individual woman’s life and her beliefs about herself and what she thought was possible in her life. All of these factors are associated with very real biochemical changes in our cells. Learning about their diets, work situations, and relationships often provided me with clues to the source of women’s distress – and, more important, what steps needed to be taken to relieve that distress. These insights are the missing link to optimal health on all levels.

As I have developed more sensitivity to these patterns of health and illness, I have come to the conclusion that without a commitment to looking at all aspects of our lives and accessing our power to change them, improving habits and diet alone is not enough to effect a permanent cure for conditions that have been present for a long time. I’ve worked with many women whose illnesses could not be ascribed simply to what they eat and could not be cured solely through medication or surgery. Following a special diet or running three miles a day won’t make a woman feel well if her health is being adversely influenced by a subconscious belief that she isn’t good enough, or that she is the wrong gender, or that it’s a woman’s lot in life to suffer. If she has experienced incest and hasn’t allowed herself to feel the emotions that are often associated with that history, or if she was unwanted or abused as a child, then no prescription drugs exist that will heal that wound and the physical aftereffects that often result.

The reason I became an author was so that I could reach more women with this important message: Your body is designed not only stay healthy but also thrive physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. I want you to know that it is pleasure, not pain, that is your birthright. When we finally make the connection between our thoughts, our beliefs, and our physical health and life circumstances, we find that we are in the driver’s seat of our lives and can make profound changes. Nothing is more exhilarating or empowering.

I encourage you to fall in love with your own body and to awaken to its divine processes. Let this process help you become the physical embodiment of your soul so that you discover the woman you were always meant to be. Believe that you will find the best possible solutions for your individual situation. Believe that you have the courage necessary to make radical and life-giving changes in your mind and body that will allow you to flourish on all levels. This includes learning how to love and accept your precious body right now. It is, after all, the temple that houses your soul. This is the path not only for our individual healing but for the healing of the planet and humankind as well.

Adapted with permission from Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom, Bantam, 2010.

© Christiane Northrup, Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.

This information is not intended to treat, diagnose, cure, or prevent any disease. 
All material in this article is provided for educational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you have regarding a medical condition, and before undertaking any diet, exercise, or other health program.

Christiane Northrup, M.D., a board-certified ob/gyn, is a visionary pioneer, beloved authority in women’s health and wellness, and the author of the ground breaking New York Times bestsellers Women's Bodies, Women’s Wisdom and TheWisdom of Menopause. Her third book, Mother-Daughter Wisdom, was voted Amazon’s #1 book of the 2005 (in two categories). Her latest books, The Secret Pleasures of Menopause and The Secret Pleasures of Menopause Playbook, teach how to experience joy, pleasure, prosperity, fulfillment, and vibrant health.

Following a 25-year career in both academic medicine and private practice, Dr. Northrup now devotes her time to helping women truly flourish on all levels through tapping into their inner wisdom.

For more information about Dr. Northrup go to

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