This is How You Vagina – a mixed review

You all probably know, I’m not a big non-fiction reader, but I try to squeeze in a few every year because it’s always good to stretch outside of your comfort genres. A friend on bookstagram recommended This is How You Vagina and I added it to my goodreads TBR, and a short while later I entered (and won!) a goodreads giveaway for an eBook. I know. I was as shocked as you are that goodreads ACTUALLY does follow through on those giveaways! 

Okay back to this book and my journey for reading it. In college I went through a big self-discovery phase. I grew up in the Bible Belt and talking about sex or women’s sexual parts wasn’t done. I was taught shame and embarrassment surrounding all my body’s natural functions and had to unlearn a lot of those weird social constructs and relearn my body! Now, I love talking about my body and helping educate other females in my life about things I’ve learned and to open the doorway for more discussion around vaginas and sexual health. 

This was the goal of the author as well. Dr. Williams is a gynecologist in St. Louis, MO and after practicing for several years, she was flabbergasted at the misinformation that is used as common knowledge from her patients. She wrote this book to address all those myths and provide scientific knowledge about the vagina regarding the most frequently addressed topics in her doctor’s office.

“The vagina can expand up to 200 percent during sexual arousal. (So no, he’s never “too big” for you.)

This is how you vagina

Each section started off with a history lesson related to the topic. I enjoyed these at first, but felt they become redundant as the book went on. No surprise, but women’s health has been ghastly overlooked in the scientific realm and research is abhorrently limited (sigh). It took me several months to get through this book. I read it in small chunks because since it was medical based, it read as if a doctor wrote it as opposed to the finesse of a novelist. 

“It wasn’t until 1994 that the NIH mandated that most clinical trials include women.”

this is how you vagina

One of my favorite parts that was discussed in this book was how varied vagina’s can be regarding appearance. Textbooks, media, and porn often showcase a limited view of what a normal vagina looks like, and it creates a sense to most women that theirs looks wrong or different. Dr. Williams cited that in one scientific study, 74% of women felt their vagina was abnormal. Wow if the majority feels that way, that’s a huge indicator of how society projects unfair standards into our psyche. She then shared that the comparison that vaginas are a lot like fingerprints and no two are the same and referenced a link (which I’ll add here) to an art sculpture called “The Great Wall of Vagina.” This was so neat to me! An artist took plaster casts of over 400 vulvae which included mothers, grandmothers, multi-ethnicities, twins, and transgendered people and displayed the results. Further showing the notion that each one is unique regardless of race or relation. 

“If you check this exhibit out (it can be found online), you will discover the vast variation of vulva/labia/vaginas. Take these as a whole, and know that your vagina is normal too, because “normal” encompasses a lot. Like fingerprints, no two are exactly alike, even with twins.”

this is how you vagina

My main complaint with this novel is that Dr. Williams chose to genderize (not sure if that’s a word but let’s roll with it) the vagina and often referred to it as she. I think this was unnecessary and it marginalizes those who have vaginas but don’t identify as female. However, this is a great resource for women’s health and one I will refer to if I ever have specific issues arise with my own vagina or as I enter to other stages of my life (menopause) and need a refresher on facts surrounding how that impacts the body.

This one is hard for me to give a final rating for. I think it was 5 stars regarding comprehensive information and historical background, but maybe 3 stars as far as reading pleasure and inclusivity. Is it one I’d recommend? Yes, I think so, but I’ll also share its downfalls before passing it on to another reader, so they know what to expect going in. I hope to see more books like this hit the shelves and topics around women’s health to become more streamlined. Our bodies are not taboo, and it’s okay to talk about them and explore them (at least as much as our male counterparts do)! 

Reviewed by Coco

Leave a Reply