REDWOOD: What do you consider the most pressing non-gynecological women’s health issue today?
NORTHRUP: Heart disease, absolutely. One in three women will die of heart disease. For women, the next six causes of death combined don’t come close to heart disease. It begins in childhood and progresses, with a real growth spurt right around perimenopause.
REDWOOD: If Roe v. Wade is overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court sometime in the next several years, what implications do you foresee both for the availability of abortion and also for possible spillover effects on other women’s health needs such as contraception?
NORTHRUP: I shudder to think what will happen if Roe v. Wade gets overturned. If you read Margaret Sanger's work, and she’s the founder of Planned Parenthood from the 1930s, you read it and it almost feels like we’re still having the same argument. It's just hard for me to believe that we would still be carrying out a political agenda on women’s bodies. It's pretty well-documented that approximately a third of the women coming in to publicly funded gynecological services in the 1950s, before abortion was legalized, were there because of botched illegal abortions. Women will die. There isn't a question that more women will die if there isn't access to legal and safe abortion.
On the other hand, there are ways that women have always dealt with their fertility. The best case scenario for me, the sort of pie-in-the-sky ideal, would be for women to see the fertility as a gift and to protect it, to learn their ovulation cycle and to never allow themselves to be with a partner who they wouldn’t willingly have as the father of a child, but also a partner who respected their fertility. Now I understand that that’s a very elevated view. Contraceptives fail, women get raped, and some women don't have enough self-esteem to stay out of lousy relationships, or the relationship changes. So women will get pregnant who don’t intend to. Currently 50 percent of all pregnancies are either unwanted, unplanned or both. That's kind of where we stand. I'd like to have women learn the 17 forbidden acupuncture points that they can use to regulate their periods and also perhaps to induce an early miscarriage if necessary. Those are available in a book called Woman, Heal Thyself, by Jane Blum.
REDWOOD: One more question. Which methods of complementary health care have you found most helpful for yourself and your patients?
NORTHRUP: Acupuncture, without a doubt. Acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine. Pilates, which is a form of exercise. Meditation. I learned Transcendental Meditation, but there are many kinds of meditation. Yoga. And nutritional medicine with supplementation.
REDWOOD: Is there anything else that we haven't touched upon that you would like to include?
NORTHRUP: I would say this: currently the baby boom generation, which is five times the number of people who came before or came after [in an equal number of years], is all reaching perimenopause and menopause. This is an enormously influential group. The beauty of the baby boomers is that we’re the ones who said "don't trust anyone over 30." This is a group that does not want to age or does not want to see themselves as old. They will be driving the trends in health care, and because of the generational distrust of authority figures, this is a group that will increasingly embrace complementary and holistic medicine because these types of medicines work, and they are safe. I believe that the wellness industry and the whole complementary approach to medicine is not only here to stay, but that we’ve only just begun to see its impact.