Vagina: A Re-Education by Lynn Enright – Book Review

Blurb from Goodreads

Part memoir, part practical guide to the vagina, this indispensable book sifts through myths and misinformation with the aim of empowering women with vital knowledge about their own bodies.

For centuries, the vagina has been made mysterious, neglected, mutilated or mocked, and as a consequence few people know much about it. In Vagina: A Re-Education, acclaimed journalist Lynn Enright charts the story of this crucial organ, encompassing fertility and hormones, pain and arousal, sex education and more, with the goal of empowering women with vital knowledge about their bodies.

As women all over the world join together in conversations about consent and power, this investigation into the history, biology and politics of the vagina will be a valuable and urgent addition to the discussion.

My Review

I am more than my vagina.

I am more than my ovaries.

I need to and I want to know more about my vagina and ovaries and my sexual and reproductive health. I need to and I want to know about my hormones.

But I am more than that. I am more than a fluctuation in oestrogen.

I am more than an angry woman.

We are all more than our genitals and our gender.

We all deserve a life that is not defined by our genitals and our gender.

Let’s stay furious until society recognises that.

Let’s talk. Let’s hope. Let’s make. Let’s remake. Let’s educate. Let’s re-educate.

This is an excellent book on all that it means to be female with reference to sexual and reproductive health. It aims to bring the vagina, vulva, clitoris, menstruation, menopause and all the other various aspects of female health out from the murky shadows.

  • Why is it that period pain is so acceptable?
  • Why is period poverty a real thing?
  • Why is it that period blood is portrayed as friendly blue liquid in advertising?
  • Why are women taught to be shamed by their bodies?
  • Why do we dismiss the menopause as just another part of life?
  • Why are women told they are hysterical or just too sensitive to pain?
  • Why is there a standard that vaginas are supposed to like like?
  • Why are we taught that vaginas are merely receptacles for the penis?
  • Why are women thought of as baby carrying vessels?
  • Why is women’s sexual pleasure not more openly discussed?
  • Why is more not done to cater to women with vaginal pain due to dryness and thinning skin during and after menopause?
  • Why does it take on average seven years to diagnose a woman with endometriosis?
  • Why is there no cure for so many women’s reproductive health related illnesses?

I could go on…

This book is very informative and written in an incredibly accessible manner.

I’m more than intimately familiar with my own vulva and reproductive health since I experienced excruciating pain from my very first menstrual bleed when I was 11 and had to suffer years of being dismissed as a hysterical woman so much of what is in this book I already knew. And at times it felt rather repetitive and somewhat prosaic. But a lot of what is in the book is not common knowledge. Although I was unaware that there are sheet masks for your vulva to plump it up… I mean wtf? Please people… do not give your vaginas facials. I mean the hint is in the word ‘facial’… they’re for the face. Your vagina is self cleaning and you do not need to interfere with its natural flora with unnecessary and potentially dangerous things like vaginal douches.

I would highly recommend this not only to all women, cis or trans (the book aims to inclusive of all female experiences), but to everyone out there who identifies as male so that we can open up the dialogue about women’s health issues and begin to rid the shame and stigmas associated with women’s reproductive health.

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25 thoughts on “Vagina: A Re-Education by Lynn Enright – Book Review

  1. This wouldn’t be a book I would pick up but vulva sheet masks? lol Honestly, I’m not surprised that’s a thing. People are weird. I just do the normal stuff and when there is a problem I go to the doctor. Although doctors don’t help much. I’ve had irregular periods since I started mine at 16. No doctor has been able to tell me why and usually prescribe birth control which I don’t get on because I’d rather not take something just to fix one problem that isn’t necessary. 🤷‍♀️

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I know… vulva sheet masks… because we want to make our vulvas look more dewy and glowy??? It’s just so strange Joanna! And exactly, there you have an issue with irregularity and you’re basically dismissed. It’s so frustrating how women are ignored

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I mean if I wanted it to be dewy and glowy I’ll just go sweat? 🤣🤣🤣 yeah, I mean they have done testing but it always leads to a dead end. If/when I do try to have another children it will be as difficult as my first while my sister in law had no problems at all..I’m definitely grateful for the daughter I have but it definitely didn’t come easy…

        Liked by 1 person

  2. LMAO vulva sheet masks?! I mean… People really do super weird things. I guess I’m not even surprised that these sheet masks exist when “bejazzling” your vagina is a thing that people also actually do (I don’t even know how to spell what it’s called. Vajazzling?)! 🤦🏻‍♀️ This sounds like a really interesting read though! I think really important and informative especially for those who live in more conservative cultures where our bodies are considered taboo topics. I will definitely be picking this one up!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I know Dini. Sheet masks. For your vulva…. it’s utterly baffling isn’t it.
      And omg yes that vagazzle? Vajazzle? I don’t know either but HORRIFIC! As I said to Tanya the only ones with a sparkly vagina should be the female vampires from twilight 😂😂😂

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  3. I will really have to check this out. I suffer from awful period pains and have since I was thirteen. I wasn’t until about four/five months ago that I realised that my pain wasn’t normal. I will have to check this book out and see what it says.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m so sorry to hear that Chiara! I feel you so deeply though. I suffered enormously through the years with menstrual cramping and was frequently dismissed because *all women get cramps* And that is just such a problematic and dangerous viewpoint to foist on women and girls. We should not be expected to put our lives on hold while we bleed. We also should not be expected to grin and bear it.
      You might prefer reading The Vagina Bible by Dr Jennifer Gunter. I haven’t personally read that one yet but I follow her on twitter and she speaks so much truth and sense. And as she’s an actual doctor there may be better advice for you in that book.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Vulva sheet masks…. seriously? *facepalm*. Books like this are ones I’d like to see reviewed more. They are SO important! And seriously?! Why is period poverty a thing? People with a uterus never asked to get a period. This is something that causes me frequent rage. You should not have to pay for feminine hygiene products! Or how pads and tampons have a “luxury tax” but mens razors dont. A luxury tax! How outrageous is that. Great post ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yup. Vulva sheet masks… I just can’t. There’s so much misinformation out there and a whole lot of shaming about how a woman’s vulva should look and smell, and it’s just so harmful! Your vagina does not have to smell of flowers and meadows!!!
      And reading up on period poverty is truly distressing. How in some parts of the world women are thought of as unclean when they are menstruating.
      And in so called civilised society how period blood is still such a taboo.
      I always remember some time ago picking up tampons for my friend in the supermarket. I rang her from the aisle to check what brand etc that she wanted and she was so embarrassed by the conversation. She was sitting in her bedroom cramping and yet she felt a shame wondering who could hear me discuss tampons on the phone. And my friend is a very sexually confident woman and yet she felt embarrassed by the thoughts of her blood flow.
      This is why books like these are important. It’s about trying to combat that deeply ingrained shame there is in society about having a vagina.
      I 100% agree with you about the tax on tampons and sanitary towels. These are not optional for us as women. A luxury…. baffling isn’t it!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Correction, it should NOT smell of flowers or meadows. Lol. Or fish, that’s a classic sign of infection. I’m incredibly sorry your friend felt that way. It’s definitely not a good feeling. The way society is its like a woman is disgusting for having a period. Even though it’s something pushed upon us that we never asked for. It’s a completely “natural” thing. Like wet dreams in preteen boys. It’s just part of life.
        There’s so many things those with a vagina (I’m referring to the entire sex organ) do to hide completely natural occurrences. Douching, scented feminine hygiene products (disgusting btw), apparently sheet masks.

        All because we have been “groomed” to believe we should be ashamed of it. The entirety of the need for feminism ticks me off. Equality, that’s all anyone wants….. oh my

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Yup. Agree wholeheartedly. I find it’s so hard to get unscented pads these days too and it’s like please, I do not need that extra irritation because that is how I could end up with an infection. And don’t get me started on those jade egg things that Goop were proclaiming….
          It’s just exhausting isn’t it. Having to demand equality

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        1. Ooh I’ll pop over to Goodreads once I’ve finished my blog hopping. And no, never heard of that one but I’ll definitely seek it out.
          I’m very keen to read Dr Jen Gunter’s The Vagina Bible next which I feel will be similar to this book but with a lot more medical detail due to her qualifications

          Liked by 1 person

          1. I’ve been looking at that one. I read a arc of a book called “self care down there”. It was ummm…… different. Lol. It was spirituality for the vagina. As in we should be chanting to it…. I don’t chant to any part of my body lol

            Like

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