SocietyApril 9, 2019

Why I wrote The Vagina Bible


Later this year, Jennifer Gunter’s new book The Vagina Bible: The Vulva and the Vagina, Separating the Myth from the Medicine is published. In this post from 2017, Gunter – who speaks in Auckland tonight – explains the thinking behind it

If you have never seen a bottle of lube on the nightstand in the movies or in porn, your friends never talked about lube, and every guy you have been with tells you his delusional god-like vagina skills should be enough to make you drip and then sex hurts because he was in the wrong zip code and foreplay was twist a nipple and stick it in you might sadly think there is something wrong with you and your vagina.

It is 2017 and we are supposedly in the age of information yet many people (both women and men) don’t know that a vagina is wet, that condoms should be used with a lubricant, eating sugar doesn’t cause a yeast infection, that lube does not signify a failure, it is normal for labia minora to protrude, and that sex shouldn’t be painful.

We are here for many reasons. Our collective inability to talk frankly and openly about the lower reproductive tract, the lack of education for medical professions on the practical, everyday workings of the vagina and vulva (the truth is most doctors learn medicine, but not which menstrual cup or lube to choose) and because celebrities, women’s magazines and even Etsy are taking up the slack with a maelstrom of fake news and snake oil for profit, page clicks, or both. Even some doctors are getting into the business pushing vaginal products and “rejuvenation.”

The myths and the misinformation about the vagina and the vulva are like the mythical Hydra, I feel as if I cut one head off and two pop up in its stead! “No wasp galls in vaginas, ok?” I plead. “Fine,” says the internet, “What about cucumbers and Vick VapoRub?”

As far as the vagina and vulva are concerned the age of information has passed and we have entered the age of misinformation.

Having heard the same feedback, “I didn’t know that!” from patients in the office, reporters, and thousands upon thousands of comments on my blog, on Twitter, and Facebook I decided women (and the men who love them) need a reliable source of unbiased, accessible information that doesn’t risk inadvertent injury down an internet rabbit hole. After all posts debunking vaginal jade eggs or wasp nests can only contain so much health information. For each piece I write there is tons of other great information that I had to sacrifice on the internet’s sacred altar of brevity. There are also lots of other things I want to tell you (basically, everything in my head that I know about the lower genital tract), and so to get that all that information to you I am writing a book.

I still reference amazing textbooks when I fact check some of the posts that you all have grown to love. I adore medical textbooks from authors who I respect because A) I know I can trust them (which is why I bought their book) and B) there is no distraction when reading! No advertisements for jade eggs or a Kardashian click bait vagina headline to lure me away into the Upside down of gynecology. I want women (and the men who love them) to have that same kind of repository of unbiased information about the lower genital tract, whether they have it on their shelves at home on their device that they carry 24/7.

I’ve been doing this for 25 years. I know the questions women ask and more importantly the questions they are afraid to ask yet desperately want answered. I also know, or at least have a pretty good idea, why women ask these questions. I have been a sub specialist caring for the vagina and vulva for most of my career so I also know the questions and medical concerns that general gynecologists and family practitioners and other medical professionals need help with.

As I recently wrote in the New York Times the answer is information so I am so very pleased to announce that The Vagina (and Vulva) Bible (working title) will become a reality as the good people at Kensington have agreed to publish it. This book is everything I know about the vulva and vagina. It will be the accessible antidote to the health misinformation about the vulva and vagina that women find at every turn be it online, from friends or their own mothers, on the drugstore shelves, from uneducated partners, or even from their own health care providers. This will be the definite guide to separating the science from the sorcery as far the lower genital tract is concerned (I’ll be going from cervix to vulva).

I truly believe woman can only be empowered when they have accurate information and The Vagina (and Vulva) Bible will be that source. It won’t be a good book for your genital tract, it will be the best book!

Dr Gunter is speaking at the University of Auckland’s Grafton campus at 7pm tonight. Tickets are $5-$10 and available here . Funds raised will cover an honorarium for Dr Gunter and a donation to ALRANZ.

Keep going!