Several months ago, I had the horrifying realisation that I had been taught nothing about the menopause, and having left school behind me, I was not overly likely to be taught any more before the dreaded time came. It was in a panic over osteoporosis and hot flushes that I began franticly searching the internet for any information on the subject (best to be at least 20 years ahead, my brain insisted). It was then that I stumbled across gynaecologist Dr Jen Gunter. She had a book coming out. It was a book that would cover all bases regarding vaginal health, and I very quickly decided I needed it.
When the book arrived I was a bit concerned about the sheer girth of the thing, as my experience with large non-fiction books has not been great, but it was actually a really easy read. Dr Gunter provides all the information you could want on a subject without going overboard on the medical detail, and the sheer breadth of subject matter she covers is astounding. She covers topics on vaginal maintenance, cleansing, periods, menopause, contraception, STIs, and other common conditions as well as what medications are effective and which ones are best left alone. She makes sure to include information on how women who are post-menopausal, trans, or receiving treatment for other conditions may expect different symptoms or ailments to affect them, whilst emphasising that these are all normal variants that doctors should be able to accommodate. This book is the owner’s manual as far as I am concerned. Armed with this information, no amount of celebrity hucksters or ill-informed GPs are going to persuade you to damage your vaginal health.
The best thing about this book is the way that Dr Gunter perfectly dismantles the lies and inaccuracies we are all brought up to believe about female anatomy in an easily accessible way. You do not need to be a medical prodigy to understand why douching is a silly idea or that parsley will not stimulate a period once Dr Gunter has finished explaining it. This book addresses one of the massive failings in current education standards. There are so many things that women are not told about their own bodies, and as Dr Gunter repeatedly points out, there are many things that nobody has bothered to find out. She highlights the massive impact the patriarchy still has on policing women’s bodies, with many misconceptions going back to times before women were even allowed to be attended by physicians (only men were allowed to train in medicine and it was improper for women to be attended by male physicians). This book is a real eye-opener as to how mistreated the world’s vaginas truly are.
There is not a single person I can think of who would not benefit from the knowledge imparted by Dr Gunter in this book. I strongly recommend it as required reading for anyone who might own or expect to encounter a vagina in the future.