Gynecology & Obstetrics

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The Vagina Bible

The Vagina Bible

The vulva and the vagina--separating the myth from the medicine
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I have a vagenda: for every woman to be empowered with accurate information about the vagina and vulva.
One of the core tenets of medicine is informed consent. We doctors provide information about risks and benefits and then, armed with that information, our patients make choices that work for their bodies. This only works when the information is accurate and unbiased. Finding this kind of data can be challenging, as we have quickly passed through the age of information and seem to be stalled in the age of misinformation.
Snake oil and the lure of a quick fix have been around for a long time,and so false, fantastical medical claims are nothing new. However, sorting myth from medicine is getting harder and harder.
In addition to social media feeds that constantly display medical messaging of variable quality, there are the demands of a headline-driven news cycle that constantly requires new content—even when it doesn’t exist. With women’s bodies, there are even more forces of misdirection at work. Pseudoscience and those who peddle it are invested in misinformation,but so is the patriarchy.
Obsessions with reproductive tract purity and cleansing date back to a time when a woman’s worth was measured by her virginity and how many children she might bear. A vagina and uterus were currency. Playing on these fears awakens something visceral. It’s no wonder the words “pure,” “natural,” and “clean” are used so often to market products to women.
Members of the media and celebrity influencers tap into these fears with articles about and products to prevent vaginal mayhem, as if the vagina (which evolved to stretch and tear to deliver a baby long before suture material was invented) is somehow so fragile that it is constantly in a state of near catastrophe.
Why The Vagina Bible instead of The Vagina and Vulva Bible? Because that is how we collectively talk about the lower reproductive tract (the vagina and vulva). Medically, the vagina is only the inside, but language evolves and words take on new meaning. For example, “catfish” and “text” both have additional meanings that I could never have imagined when I was growing up. “Gut” is from the Old English for the intestinal tract, usually meaning the lower part (from the stomach on down) but not always.
It’s actually a very imprecise term; yet it has been embraced by the medical community and is even the name of a leading journal dedicated to the study of the alimentary (digestive) tract, the liver, biliary tree, and pancreas.
I have been in medicine for thirty-three years, and I’ve been a gynecologist for twenty-four of them. I’ve listened to a lot of women, and I know the questions they ask as well as the ones they want to ask but don’t quite know how. The Vagina Bible is everything I want women to know about their vulvas and vaginas. It is my answer to every woman who has listened to me pass on information in the office or online and then wondered, “How did I not know this?”
You can read the book in order from front to back or visit specific chapters or even sections as they speak to you. It’s all good! I hope over the years many pages will become worn as you go back to double-check what a doctor told you in the office, to research a product that makes wild claims about improving vaginas and vulvas, or help a friend or sexual partner out with an anatomy lesson.
Misinforming women about their bodies serves no one. And I’m here to help end it.
Jen Gunter, MD

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Birth on the Land

Birth on the Land

Memories of Inuit Elders and Traditional Midwives
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Sperm Chromatin

Sperm Chromatin

Biological and Clinical Applications in Male Infertility and Assisted Reproduction
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