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Dr. Robin Hartley proclaims, ‘Women: It’s Your Turn’


“This is an extremely important time period in a woman’s life, the time between 30 and 50,” said Dr. Robin Hartley. “If a woman takes just a moment each day to take care of herself now, it will make a tremendous difference in her health when she’s 60.”

Hartley, who practices at Family Medicine of Urbandale, said her female patients complained that there were many books about pregnancy and menopause, but few for the years in between.

“My female patients said to me, ‘I wish that I had one book that would serve as a complete guide for my health,'” she said.

Hartley decided to create that book. She began by compiling the questions she most commonly heard from her female patients. She then embarked on two years of research, scouring new issues of 35 reputable medical journals each month. She also attended occasional classes at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.

On the acknowledgements page of “Women: It’s Your Turn,” Hartley recalls a period of writer’s block in which her only text was a piece of paper inscribed, “You are great, you can do it!” She writes, “One day, my ten-year-old son noticed that the words were not magically transforming themselves into a book and said, ‘Mom, is that it? Are you done? Is that your entire book?'”

Hartley renewed her efforts, and created a structure for her work. A journal article formed each chapter’s core, which she then fleshed out with discussions on the article’s topic, aspects of women’s health ranging from breast exams to romance, blood sugar or the importance of a positive self-image and personal style. The book also contains a personal health survey; stories from Hartley, her colleagues and patients; web site listings; and references to help women further explore the chapter topics.

Hartley warns that in the years between 30 and 50, many women are so focused on family or career, or both, that they forget to pay attention to themselves and their physical and emotional well being.

“I wanted to tell women, ‘It’s time. It’s your turn now to take better care of you.’ That’s why I called my book ‘Women: It’s Your Turn.'”

When the book was completed, Hartley began looking for a publisher. McMillen Publishing accepted it.

“I was extremely lucky,” she said. “I had a friend whose father used to be an editor. I called her and asked if there was anyone her father would recommend. He recommended Denise Sundvold, a 43-year-old who is married with four children. It hit a chord with her. She is the one who helped me say, ‘Women, It’s your turn.’ I only had to make one phone call. [My book] just happened to fill a need.”

“This new book is a complete wellness guide for women,” said Michelle Purviance, McMillen Publishing’s marketing director. “It addresses some of today’s most-talked-about topics — everything from eating right to menopause.”

According to Hartley, a problem for some women can be their state of mind. For example, she says, women often think of menopause as an ending to be mourned.

“Menopause is an opportunity for a new beginning and a new you,” she said. “There are simple preventative health things that you can do now to be free and more independent when you’re older. It’s about being the best you can be by making good choices in your 30s, 40s and 50s.”

Hartley reminds her readers that although some diseases are determined mostly by heredity, many such as lung disease, heart disease and diabetes, can often be prevented by proper habits, diet and exercise. She also feels spiritual well-being is essential for physical wellness.

“Right now, inside of you, you possess everything you’ll ever need to be successful and have balance of body, mind and spirit,” she said.

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