This is a very difficult book to review. This is, at its core, a pop science book. So for me, a review of it necessarily has to explore how much of the book is pop and how much of it is actual science. Pop science books have a long history of being significantly more of the former and very little of the latter. The problem is that the topic is women’s health, which results in very little useful discussion online to guide the reader in understand how much of this is pseudoscience and little research (at least accessible to me) that tests the statements in this book.
So here are a few things I can say about this book:
Hill works in what amounts to the homeopathy world. If you’re looking for hard science, there is a bit of it, but you’re probably better off going with Dr. Jen Gunter (the Vagina Bible, the Menopause Manifesto).
This book feels at times too heavy on science and sometimes too light. Hill has consolidated in this book a number of scientifically verified information, some anecdotal information from her years of practice supporting menstruators, and some takeaways that will doubtless be useful to many readers. Indeed, if I were to hone down the book to a single thesis it would be that science has not done enough in this sphere, so each person must take up the mantle and commit to a study of their own body and its unique rhythms to have any hope of achieving balance. In my view, this is a critical message, and my research on this book has certainly found that many, many people have benefitted from having it packaged for them in this way.
Indeed, despite my skepticism, I am finding value in thinking about my period in the context of seasons as proposed by the book. The book is however surprisingly unhelpful when it comes to advice on how to navigate those seasons. For example, Hill suggests you think about your period as your winter. Easy. Blankets, couches, hot drinks, etc. But for someone who maintains a fairly rigorous physical schedule, that advice is entirely useless to me. What I need to know is the underlying information – why does my body slow down and what risks are there for me in pushing through discomfort on those days. For example, I’ve recently learned, unrelated to the book, that we are more likely to suffer from tendon injuries while menstruating. Wild! This kind of information, and advice and how to continue to move safely during our winter would have made this book much, much more helpful. For a book written by a practitioner, there is not as much practical advice as I was hoping for.
The vast majority of this book could be replaced with a single illustration which is also in the book (a common complaint I have with self help books):
On the whole, there is not enough support out there for women and menstruators more generally in navigating their health. There is a LOT of snake oil and jade eggs to navigate around. I don’t think Hill is selling you snake oil. Just don’t expect this book to be your one stop shop for understanding your body.