Cover of Taking Our Pulse by Iris F. Litt, M.D.
Taking Our Pulse
The Health of America's Women
Iris F. Litt, M.D.


368 pages.
from $38.00

Hardcover ISBN: 9780804728287
Paperback ISBN: 9780804731379



Taking Our Pulse is a book about women's health: what it is, why it is the way it is, and what needs to be done to improve it. It differs from many other books about the health of women by: integrating up-to-date medical research with practical information for use in daily lives; offering a way of looking at health issues affecting women that accentuates their living better rather than just longer; emphasizing a developmental approach by examining health issues at different stages of the life cycle; and using a lucid, almost conversational, style of presentation that makes complex medical conditions and procedures readily intelligible to lay readers. Furthermore, it is written by a woman who is a physician, an educator of future physicians, a medical researcher, and a student of feminism.

Because the field of medicine has been traditionally dominated and controlled by men, male constructs have largely defined the causes and remedies of women's health problems. A host of myths has accumulated about women's health—the beliefs that most women's health problems are related to their reproductive function and that women tend to have more emotional diseases than physical ones. Even today, such simplistic and medically unsound views persist and are reflected in the amount of insufficient research conducted on the specific health needs of women. One of the major aims of this book is to expose these myths, in the process re-educating not only physicians but women themselves, who have been socialized to accept them unquestioningly.

After four chapters that deal with life-span differences in women's health (childhood and adolescence, early adulthood, the perimenopausal years, and the older years), the book considers the following topics: sexually transmitted diseases, pregnancy and its prevention, mental health, substance abuse, violence (including sexual and child abuse, rape, domestic violence, and elder abuse), nutrition, medical care, women as doctors, and choosing the right physician.

About the author

Iris Litt, M.D. is Professor of Pediatrics, Director of the Institute for Research on Women and Gender, and Director of Adolescent Medicine at the Stanford University School of Medicine. She is the author, most recently, of Evaluation of the Adolescent Patient (1990).

"Highly recommended."

Library Journal

"The challenges facing women and those caring for them are the focus of Dr. Litt's comprehensive update on the health of America's women. This book reviews the current knowledge of women's health. The first four chapters detail the four major life stages of women: adolescence, young adulthood, the perimenopausal years, and the older years. Chapters 5 through 10 discuss such health issues as pregnancy and its prevention, mental health, and violence against women through all life stages. The last four chapters address aspects of the medical care system of particular relevance to women."

New England Journal of Medicine