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body image, Urban myths, vaginal discharge, vulva

We need a vagina and vulva bible, so I am writing one!

uterus

Not the vulva or vagina, but super cool and the best image I could find for how I feel about this decision! 

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 upomn 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! So watch this space for more.

In the meantime, I will still be blogging regularly. I am going to kill that genital tract  Hydra of misinformation one blog post at a time, Trump is still coming for contraception and abortion, and GOOP and Gwyneth Paltrow want a television show!

Discussion

39 thoughts on “We need a vagina and vulva bible, so I am writing one!

  1. What a fantastic idea! As a young people’s sex educator and a sexual health nurse, I know this is hugely needed for both young people & adults.

    I look forward to reading it!

    Posted by Rebecca Maclean | November 21, 2017, 3:02 pm
  2. Good luck with the book, Dr. Gunter! It’s a much-needed book (by us guys too), and I can’t think of anyone better to write it.

    Posted by realthog | November 21, 2017, 3:07 pm
  3. Hooray!! Your book will be such a help.

    Posted by Danielle Lescure | November 21, 2017, 3:12 pm
  4. As a student hoping to become a PA specializing in gynecology, I can’t wait to purchase your book. I want to work in gynecology because I believe every woman deserves excellent care and comprehensive sexual health education. I honestly look up to you a lot.

    Posted by realworldbelle | November 21, 2017, 3:14 pm
  5. Hallelujah! Back in the 70s, when I was in college, there was actually some decent, science-backed information available about sex. Now it’s hard to find much that’s not snake oil (which doesn’t belong in a vagina either). A book by you would be a blessing to genitals everywhere.

    Posted by Kristen Rigney | November 21, 2017, 3:36 pm
  6. Shame on me for being about to comment only that I am looking forward to preordering a copy for my teenage daughter. Should have been, and is: I will be preordering copies for my teenage daughter AND my teenage son.

    Posted by Lisa R | November 21, 2017, 3:42 pm
  7. BC OB/GYN 20+yrs now an assistant professor teaching PA students…. how can I help and/or contribute

    Posted by Kevin alten MD | November 21, 2017, 3:57 pm
  8. Good plan my nieces will think I’m crazy when they are gifted it! I’m glad I grew up in saner times.

    Posted by Sheila | November 21, 2017, 3:58 pm
    • As someone who’s aunt gifted her with “Vaginas, an owner’s manual”, they might say “oh auntie is crazy” but secretly they’ll be thrilled!

      I can’t wait for Dr Jen’s book!

      Posted by JustaTech | November 22, 2017, 11:36 am
  9. So happy! As an Ob/gyn, I love your work and send my patients, my daughters, their Med student friends and my coworkers to your blog regularly!

    Posted by Linda Anderson,MD | November 21, 2017, 4:17 pm
  10. About time too! (PS, women don’t pee through their vagina, either.)

    Posted by richmonde | November 21, 2017, 4:21 pm
  11. As a certified nurse midwife I love your blog posts and am only angry at myself for not writing them first! I’ve told patients and other providers to look up your blog. Now all I need is a small booklet answering the sex questions my middle aged Hispanic women ask me, in Spanish. Thank you for your service, ma’am!

    Posted by BitchMidwife | November 21, 2017, 4:26 pm
  12. Yippee! Can’t wait for it. Thank you Dr. Gunter. It is a much needed book.

    Posted by Sammy | November 21, 2017, 4:28 pm
  13. Bravo! I look forward to reading it.

    Posted by Paula | November 21, 2017, 6:51 pm
  14. I’m envisioning a traditional, leather-bound, gold-edged-paged tome here (actually filled with facts though, unlike the original bible). Sounds fantastic! Looking forward to reading it.

    Posted by LustStarrr | November 21, 2017, 7:44 pm
  15. I can’t wait to buy several copies and give them as gifts. As always, you’re an inspiration and an invaluable source of information. -Thank you

    Posted by ZenHeathen | November 21, 2017, 7:59 pm
  16. Yay Dr Jen!! You rock!!

    Posted by Kathleen Dugan | November 21, 2017, 8:37 pm
  17. This is fabulous news!

    Posted by Erin | November 21, 2017, 8:37 pm
  18. Thank you for making such a large commitment, Dr Jen. The book will be very welcome.

    Your working title is probably super for keeping you focused on what and why you are writing, but I hope the word “Bible” doesn’t appear in the final title, only because there are women among large religious groups (who could benefit from this book) who may be turned away from it because they feel the title is sacrilegious.

    Because you picked the topic of lube as the lead-in to this post, I’ll note that I’ve been using Slippery Stuff since you posted the table that listed the lubes most similar to the ecology of the vagina. I love it; thanks as always!

    Lauren

    Posted by Lauren Sarno | November 21, 2017, 9:08 pm
    • This is great news! I can’t wait to buy the book!

      I agree with lauren though – some people do find the use of ‘bible’ in a non religious context quite offensive – and coming from a background in which I was raised very religious, and where we weren’t even allowed to think about ‘down there’, (my mother wouldn’t let me use tampons, despite me finding my period deeply distressing), I think that having something that is accessible to young people coming from those sorts of backgrounds would be really helpful – there were a LOT of things that I didn’t know and really needed to know before I left home (despite having studied biology at school!).

      Also, please, will the book also have information about contraception? As that was a terrifying rabbit hole of confusion for me when I left home – I knew NOTHING about how I worked, and was terrified that anything even remotely sexual would get me pregnant – having a reliable source of information about how different forms of contraception work would be amazing!

      Posted by Nomes Lorimer | November 22, 2017, 12:36 am
    • I look forward to your new book, Dr. Gunter!

      I agree that “Bible” is inappropriate for the book title, not so much because it sounds sacrilegious to people whose religion includes a bible but more because it alienates people whose religion (or lack thereof) does not include a bible. I was raised Hindu and now identify as atheist. A book called a “bible” feels exclusionary to me.

      I also wonder if you are aware of this upcoming book: The Wonder Down Under: A User’s Guide to the Vagina

      Posted by Arpita | December 20, 2017, 4:16 pm
  19. I read your postings with a lot of enjoyment – and a book about the vagina is certainly needed. Actually, two Danish women have just published a book, called “the joy of the vagina” (it’s a limerick in Danish). You can find info on the book here with Google Translate: https://www.arnoldbusck.dk/boeger/medicin-sundhed-sygdom/glaeden-med-skeden, Authors: NINA BROCHMANN, ELLEN DAHL The book contains a lot of updated facts, is written in an informal day-to-day language, demystifies a lot of myths and comes highly recommended. Best regards, Mette Bentzen Licensed Psychologist cand.psych.aut. Mimers Loft Jernbanegade 14 4000 Roskilde tlf. 22 99 08 55 http://www.mimersloft.dk

    Posted by Mette Bentzen /Mimers Loft | November 22, 2017, 2:23 am
  20. thank goodness! can’t wait to read.

    Posted by Anne Lippin | November 22, 2017, 6:29 am
  21. I will be buying a copy for me and my daughter!

    Posted by Sally Munro MacDonnell | November 22, 2017, 8:14 am
  22. So glad to hear this! I have followed your posts for years and want to say thank you!! Whether addressing female reproductive health or vaccinations, you’re always well informed and supremely rational (a rarity nowadays).

    When I present this book to my 17 yo daughter she will roll her eyes, shake her head and ask why she ended up with such weird parents. But at heart she is a scientist so she will read it with interest!

    Posted by EJL | November 22, 2017, 9:43 am
  23. It seems to me like you’re the perfect candidate to write such a book. I can’t believe one doesn’t already exist!

    Posted by Zara | November 22, 2017, 7:50 pm
  24. That is a great idea — I love you and your mission so much. I am a well-educated, reasonably intelligent full grown adult woman and I can’t even tell you how grateful I am for some of the information you have given me. So thanks and keep on fighting the good fight!

    Posted by amy | November 23, 2017, 7:49 pm
  25. You go Dr Jen! Kill that multi-headed hydra of ‘Jibber Jabber’ misinformation.

    Please include a specific section on lubricant for us postmenopausal ladies as what may have been the bees knees in previous years doesn’t always work as effectively post menopause.

    Love your blog & looking forward to the book The VV Bible.

    Posted by struthruthblog | November 23, 2017, 10:47 pm
  26. Go you! The world needs this book.

    Posted by Star Lady | November 24, 2017, 3:18 pm
  27. Great idea! BTW is that the Wonder Womb stuffie that Dr. Mattatall made for you?! It looks amazing!

    Posted by Gail | November 24, 2017, 5:23 pm
  28. I will be happy to pass along your information to all the “vulvalutionaries” on my media sites!

    Posted by dorrielane | November 26, 2017, 9:53 am
  29. That’s fantastic news! Also, please touch on sex toy safety in your book. I was one of those people who thought it was my vagina’s fault that penetration stung, even in absence of any infection. Switched to glass and real silicone and it stopped at once.

    Posted by Orchid (@Orchidiary) | November 30, 2017, 1:50 am
  30. I will buy this book! And I will leave it out so my son and daughter can read it.

    Posted by Andrea | December 10, 2017, 6:26 am
  31. I’ll be recommending its purchase for our medical library. We also service the Royal Women’s Hospital in Melbourne so this will be a welcome addition.

    Posted by Catherine Voutier | December 10, 2017, 8:35 pm
  32. This is exactly what I need in my life. I hope it comes out soon!

    Posted by Amy Lee | March 4, 2018, 12:46 am
  33. Out of curiosity, did the book ever come out? I ran across this today via someone’s Facebook post, and I’m fairly interested in checking out (but, couldn’t find anything else about it on the website here – but I may not be looking correctly 🙂 )

    Posted by MidnightRyder | December 25, 2018, 8:34 pm
    • August 2019

      Posted by Dr. Jen Gunter | December 26, 2018, 5:43 am
      • Cool – I’ll have to keep an eye out for it 🙂

        Posted by MidnightRyder | December 26, 2018, 8:19 am
      • As someone who has recently happened on your blog, I’m marking my calendar. I was so blithely informed over Christmas dinner that I was 9 (not 10 as I previously thought) when puberty got interesting and am staring down the barrel of twin nine year olds myself. I look forward to this book as a needed reference in our house – the girls and my son have more ladyparts questions than I have answers. You definitely have a very comfortable and open way of discussing things that helps when I’m looking for ways to explain things. As someone who didn’t get a whole lot of reliable info growing up this is important. Thank you for all your work!!

        Posted by eviebits | December 26, 2018, 3:08 pm

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