This Changes Everything | Niki Bezzant #NZnonfiction

A common theme emerges if you search online for ‘menopause cartoons’. There’s no shortage of offerings – over 7 million results when I Googled recently – and they overwhelmly depict women looking dumpy, dowdy and elderly….My generation – Gen X – don’t consider ourselves old, or dowdy, or past it.

I read This Changes Everything: The Honest Guide to Menopause and Perimenopause by New Zealand based journalist Niki Bezzant for Non-Fiction November, but my posting schedule blew out, so here it is a month later.

This Changes Everything is a well-researched, science-based approach to women’s health. My favourite kind! Like me, Bezzant avoids the woo-woo, although she does point out the few natural therapies that can work in certain instances, and she doesn’t discount the placebo effect when it comes to these types of product. She reminds us to always be wary of health advice that comes from someone trying to sell you their product.

I started reading peri-menopause books back in 2015.

I’d already been experiencing symptoms for a couple of years but didn’t know what they were, or that they were related, until a slightly older female friend set me straight. Doing some quick sums, and hoping that the figures in every single book I’ve read are accurate (that women tend to experience perimenopausal symptoms from between 2-10 years), I must be nearly at the end!

Each book has taught me something new, or shed a light on a particular issue I was facing at the time.

Each one has also reassured me that I wasn’t going crazy! Thankfully my experience has not been at the extreme end, but it has been consistent, persistent and enduring. Bezzant lists 42 possible symptoms associated with peri-menopause – over the past nine years I have ticked off all but a small handful of them. It’s one to-do list I could have done without!

For the 20% of women who experience none or very minimal symptoms – lucky you! And for the 20% who experience severe symptoms – my heart goes out to you. The rest of us in the 60% zone plod along, ticking off the symptom checklist one at a time, often wondering what is going on for us, until we pick up another book to discover that the weird feeling/change we have been living with is ‘just’ another part of the peri-menopausal journey.

Bezzant’s book is all about the oestrogen.

She clearly describes how it works in our bodies, and what happens as it fluctuates throughout perimenopause and on into menopause and post-menopause. The book is divided up into the various issues that affect most women, so if hot flushes are your main issue, a whole chapter covers off everything you need to know about them. Also included are chapters on mood swings, brain fog, sleeplessness, loss of libido, weight gain, changes to skin & hair, gut problems, and aches & pains.

Each chapter includes a section with anecdotes from real women. I confess I didn’t read them. I just wanted to know what was going on for me!

The newspaper column style chosen by Bezzant is not my preferred way of reading non-fiction, but we got by. Naturally the back of the book includes a great list of contacts and websites that are New Zealand-centric. A few Australian and UK sites are included plus a recommended reading list. For further reading Bezzant’s website includes an extensive list, chapter-by-chapter, of the books and articles used by her to write this book.

My reading list is below.

This Changes Everything is highly recommended for those looking for down-to-earth, fact-based information told with a dash of humour and lashings of practical advice.

Title: This Changes Everything: The honest guide to menopause and perimenopause
Author: Niki Bezzant
ISBN: 9780143776260
Imprint: Penguin
Published: 5 January 2022
Format: Trade Paperback
Pages: 320
Dates Read: 31 October 2022 - 15 November 2022
This post was written on the traditional land of the Wangal clan, one of the 29 clans of the Eora Nation within the Sydney basin. This Reading Life acknowledges that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are our first storytellers.

8 thoughts on “This Changes Everything | Niki Bezzant #NZnonfiction

  1. Good to know that this book explains so much about menopause. You are one of the few readers I follow who delves into this subject (see your reading list!).
    I belong to the group of 20% of women who experience none or very minimal symptoms.
    Only complaint…feel a bit dizzy sometimes…is that mentioned in the book!
    Thanks for sharing your experience and review.


    1. Lucky you! I have a couple of friends who also just suddenly stopped menstruating without any warning signs that it was approaching.

      Dizziness isn’t usually on the menopause checklists I’ve read. But I get dizzy at times due to blood pressure issues (my family history is stuffed!!)


  2. I’d say I was in the 60%. My symptoms weren’t excessive, in terms of the well known symptoms, but they were a little discombobulating at times. One of the weird things that I think was part of it because it only happened during that time, was effect on my spatial judgement. The biggest thing was that I had quite significant PMT which l’d never really had before. That was the only time in my life when I was glad my period started. Very unpleasant while it lasted. While aging has its downs -ha- I do not miss menstruation!

    PS I would definitely have read the women’s stories – I love reading people’s experiences, particularly of things I’ve experienced.


    1. Discombobulating is a very good term Sue. When the discombobulation gets too much I pick up another menopause book to read!

      The brain fog worries me the most at the moment because of fears about dementia. It affects me most when talking – nouns just fall away.

      I did read a few of the anecdotes, but they mostly confirmed/reiterated what Bezzant had said in the preceeding pages. I also felt very sad for the women who had husbands/partners who did not understand what they were going through, making this time for them even more challenging.
      Made me appreciate Mr Books even more!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. This sounds really good. I’m in a useful Facebook group which helps with weird symptoms and (of course) I’ve got a book on exercise and the menopause which (of course) I haven’t got to yet. I’m in the 60%, the flushes have been annoying, I haven’t had TOO bad brain fog but definitely need to sleep a bit more to avoid it creeping in. My periods got worse and worse in my 40s (I’d been on the combined Pill, stopped to do IVF, wasn’t allowed back on it and stayed “natural” for a bit) – it was debilitating in the end and so I went on a progesterone-only pill which has helped a lot, though I still get spotting if I take it late. That was by far the worst aspect though. At 45 I had surgery for an ovarian cyst and a) my symptoms abated a bit once that was gone, but have risen back up again now, b) they discovered I had endometriosis, which explained the awful periods AND the infertility (I was really glad of that bit), so they undid all that in a more major op than I’d expected. Rage/irritability is one symptom but I can’t tell if I’m more raging and irritable than I was before!! The 4-10 years bit is interesting as I am hitting 10 years since the periods went so hopefully what I call the white-trouser years are about to start!


    1. I probably should read the book on exercise and menopause too (but probably wont)!

      I had a few years of uncharacteristic rage early on (during my mid 40’s) but I was also living with two teens, so I wasn’t sure at first if it was just a normal reaction or hormones! But then a spate of UTI’s and changing cycles made me finally realise what was going on. The earliest symptom I now know that I had was formication. For a number of years I had this awful feeling that ants were crawling under my skin, particularly my arms and legs.

      The worse part now is the brain fog and loss of confidence. Not sure if it’s due to the after effects of all the lockdowns or perimenopause, but there are definitely some minor social anxiety issues & an inability to make decisions going on lately.

      Oh well, it can’t be long now. Thank you for sharing your story too Liz.


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