Unshelved by Bill Barnes and Gene Ambaum
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Monday, January 06, 2003

Don't you wish we came with these?

I just finished my most unusual gift for the holidays, the V Book: A Doctor's Guide to Complete Vulvovaginal Health, by Elizabeth Stewart. (Ironically given to me by someone else with that same name). I highly recommend it; it's like an owner's manual for the female genitalia, and had a lot of information that was, quite frankly, new to me. I can always count on Zabet to educate me on strange matters of being female. I first learned about the vagina being corrugated from a book she was reading. Ditto on the fact that the Fallopian tube, in an effort to get you pregnant (after all, that's why they're there), will sometimes cross the human abdomen to catch the egg if you ovulate from a side with a defective tube. This book, among other things, discusses what should happen in a gyn exam, tests you should have, what you should ask your doctor, and gives you the vocabulary to ask it intelligently. I had no idea how many skin diseases of the vulva there were. Women have a tendency to just assume it's a yeast infection and self-treat without relief, while ignoring potentially damaging problems. There are excellent sections on latex allergy and prenatal exposure to DES, both of which are very important to me. Amazon.com's rating for the book would probably be higher except for a couple of people who gave the book only one star because the author did not embrace their pet treatment for vulvodynia. The author does, however, discuss that nutritional treatment, the problems with the research as presented in the literature, etc., so I think those low ratings are highly underserved, especially considering the breadth of the book. Dr Stewart is especially concerned with 1) educating women so that they can discuss symptoms with their doctors and not feel embarrassed by a natural and integral part of their health, and 2) alleviating unnecessary pain that many women assume is just "part of being female". She points the reader to many more sources of information for further study, but this book is a good basic text of the vulvovaginal area.

Zabet gave a copy of this book to each of the women she knows, and I have to admit, that's my first inclination, too. I have friends and family who have slowly confided issues to me, all of which are treated in this book. If you're female, get it. If you're male, you might want to read it, especially if your partner is going through any major issues right now. I know I'm somewhat fascinated by books for adolescent boys, because I was never taught what happened to them, and I'm slowly learning all the odd things that can happen to men's plumbing. Granted, a lot of men really don't want to know that much about women's anatomy. But a lot of them are in a very good position to help women explore, and not just by holding the mirror. :)

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