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The Secret Pleasures of Menopause Playbook

by Christiane Northrup, MD

The following excerpt is taken from the new book, The Secret Pleasures of Menopause Playbook by Christiane Northrup, M.D.. It is published by Hay House (March 2009) and available at all bookstore or online at www.amazon.com.


Why a Playbook?

When I was writing The Secret Pleasures of Menopause, I began to hear more and more stories from other women about exactly what I was researching: how opening up to and expanding joy and pleasure in midlife creates vibrant health physically, emotionally, and spiritually—including amazing sex. I was inspired by the many touching and creative stories I was hearing from women who definitely saw midlife as the start of the absolute best years of their lives.

So I decided to put together a playbook (as opposed to a workbook) that you could use as a companion to The Secret Pleasures of Menopause—a book that would provide you with specific examples of what real live women just like you are actually doing to enhance their levels of life-giving nitric oxide through pleasure.

These are straight-from-the-heart stories—stories that are warm, clever, poignant, courageous, insightful, energetic, frequently humorous, and amazingly uplifting and joyful. Many are downright hot! And all were chosen specifically to inspire you and give you permission to reach for more joy and pleasure than you ever thought possible.

In these pages, you’ll meet women with strong, passionate life forces who respect and love themselves enough to speak their truth; heal their pasts; and let go of mind-sets, relationships, and behaviors that no longer serve them. They also don’t hesitate to kick up their heels and have a great time, doing whatever makes their hearts sing. The upshot: they’ve been able to stoke their inner fire and cultivate pleasure, joy, and vibrant health on every level and with every breath.

As I wrote in Secret Pleasures, everything we think, say, and do from this point on in our lives will either keep us actively engaged in living passionately and joyfully, or it will hasten degeneration and increase our chances of poor health and disease. The women who share their stories in the pages that follow clearly understand this truth and have undeniably chosen joy and passion. Their stories prove that the pursuit of pleasure is hardly an indulgence; it’s a life-affirming necessity!

Let this book be your personal guide to the territory of life-giving pleasure. And make sure that you use the spaces provided (or your journal) to write down and commit to your own personal pleasure plan.


How to Achieve Maximal Levels of Life-Giving Nitric Oxide

To experience maximal pleasure (not to mention great sex), you must follow a lifestyle that enhances the production of an amazing molecule called nitric oxide. The purpose of this simple molecule, made of one atom of nitrogen and one atom of oxygen, is to signal the cells in your body to stay healthy. It literally resets your power grid.

The more nitric oxide your body makes on a regular basis, the healthier and happier you are. It’s perfectly natural, it’s easy (and fun) to increase once you know how, and it’s the key to developing and maintaining optimum health. Think of it as your secret weapon for wellness!

Here are the six steps to maximizing nitric oxide, each of which is explained further in this section:

1. Associate yourself only with positive people everywhere you can.

2. Eat healthfully, exercise, and manage your weight.

3. Take pride in yourself!

4. Move forward—not backward!

5. Realize that you are what you believe.

6. Understand that sex and health go hand in hand.

*** ***

1. Associate Yourself Only with Positive People Everywhere You Can

We all face pain and disappointment. Stuff happens. But what crushes some people barely bothers others. Your ability to lead a healthy and happy life depends more on your perception of the events that unfold around you than it does upon the actual events themselves. For example, seeing “problems” as challenges or opportunities for growth is an infinitely healthier perspective.

Simply put, your power to live a joyful, abundant, and vibrantly healthy life depends on how willing you are to focus your attention on thoughts, people, places, and experiences that are positive and uplifting.

The following stories demonstrate how many women are able to do just that on a daily basis.


“A friend once told me, ‘There are two choices in life: to laugh or to cry. I prefer to laugh.’ I concur!”

NKM, age 52


“I think positively and always have. I laugh and associate often with those who do! If you are positive, you attract positive feelings in others. I don’t buy into the fact that I cannot do things ‘because of my age.’ I don’t feel as if my life is over; I believe that it’s just beginning anew. I intend to love these years (the best ones yet) as much as possible. I intend to live each moment with a big smile on my face and spread that smile wherever I go.”

Irene, age 61


“I suppose I take the golden retriever approach to life: wag more, bark less. There are just not enough hours in the day to laugh too much, tell someone how much they mean to you, and open up and let people love you.”

Penny, age 51


“Being positive is my number one priority. (There’s nothing worse than a crabby elder.) I do believe everything happens for a reason, although we may not be smart enough to figure it out right then. Many times what we think is a negative is an opportunity. I concentrate on thankfulness every day, many times a day. The Serenity Prayer is on my computer and the Lord’s Prayer is on my mirror in the bathroom. I even told a co-worker that if she had nothing positive to say, then I didn’t want to hear it!”

MJ, age 72


“I want relationships with people of like minds. Time is so important to me that I’m only interested in friendships that are genuine.”

Janice, age 56


I’m sure you’ve been inspired to evaluate your day-to-day relationships by reading through these examples of how women are creating happier lives and better health by focusing on positive things—and by spending time with positive people. Now it’s your turn. Fill in this section, and commit to more fulfilling and positive experiences and relationships!

My Personal Action Plan for Pleasure:

Making My Environment More Positive

I now commit to being around more positive people by doing the following:






I now choose to recognize as challenges (and even gifts) the following three things I previously saw as problems:

1. What I thought was a problem: ______________________________________________________


How I can now see the same thing as a challenge or gift: ___________________________________


2. What I thought was a problem: ______________________________________________________


How I can now see the same thing as a challenge or gift: ___________________________________


3. What I thought was a problem: ______________________________________________________


How I can now see the same thing as a challenge or gift: ___________________________________


I now commit to saying the following affirmations out loud (in front of a mirror) daily:

1. ______________________________________________________________________

2. ______________________________________________________________________

3. ______________________________________________________________________

4. ______________________________________________________________________

5. ______________________________________________________________________

I now concentrate on using the following strategies to help develop and nurture a positive attitude:

¨ Looking for the gift or lesson in a challenging situation instead of getting mired in the difficulty or pain I’m experiencing.

¨ Listing five to ten things I truly appreciate and referring back to it throughout the day—especially when I’m under stress or facing other negativity. For example, right now, I truly appreciate:

1. _______________________________________________________________

2. _______________________________________________________________

3. _______________________________________________________________

4. _______________________________________________________________

5. _______________________________________________________________

6. _______________________________________________________________

7. _______________________________________________________________

8. _______________________________________________________________

9. _______________________________________________________________

10. _______________________________________________________________

¨ Asking for help when I need it instead of thinking that I have to do everything myself. One way I can ask for help right now is: ______________________________________________________


¨ Cultivating a stronger sense of humor and lightening up more often. I’ll list five funny moments or events that always make me laugh when I remember them. I’ll think of these often to help me turn a negative mood around. (Having these funny moments to recall when you’re having your picture taken will also light up your smile!)

1. _______________________________________________________________

2. _______________________________________________________________

3. _______________________________________________________________

4. _______________________________________________________________

5. _______________________________________________________________

I now commit to taking the actions above to create a more positive environment for myself and others.


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