Self-Care Down There: From Menstrual Cups and Moisturizers to Body Positivity and Brazilian Wax, a Guide to Your Vagina’s Well-Being is written by Taq Kaur Bhandal, who happens to live in my neck of the woods.
I’m all about embracing our bodies and getting to know them and how they work, so I went in expecting to enjoy this book. It didn’t quite go as planned.
The book is divided into five different sections: getting to know your garden, savvy self-care, the wisdom of menstrual cycles, getting wet and wild, the modern-day vagina. For the most part, each page covers a subtopic, and there’s a box at the bottom of the page dedicated to sacred self-care, i.e. ways to practice self-care with regards to that particular topic.
From the book’s description, I wasn’t prepared for the woo-woo factor, for lack of a better term, that made an early appearance in the book. I’m pretty anti-New Age in general, so being told that my vagina is a spiritual energy centre connecting me to the earth didn’t really go over so well.
There was a mix of sensible and somewhat out-there suggestions. For example, the useful bits of advice on preventing urinary tract infections (UTIs) were accompanied by the suggestion that you create an affirmation for the urethra to practice daily. The harms of douching were discussed, which is great, and then along came the idea of steaming your vagina. And yes, that’s pretty much what it sounds like.
The book encourages the reader to drink lots of water. Great suggestion, but this was accompanied by a rather odd explanation that the hydrogen in water helps to acidify the vagina; the actual explanation for the low pH in the vagina relates to Lactobacillus bacteria producing lactic acid when they metabolize sugars.
Where the book really lost me was with the hormonal contraceptive-bashing. This wasn’t just mentioned once or twice; it was a recurring theme emphasized throughout the book. Birth control pills and other hormonal methods were presented as factory-made cyborg hormones that give you cyborg ovaries and put you into cyborg menopause, which can disrupt your whole life, including your spiritual health.
While these types of birth control methods are far from perfect, and they can unquestionably cause side effects, they are a choice made by a whole lot of women. If the book is supposed to be about empowering women, slamming a method preferred by many women probably isn’t helpful.
The book also covers topics like pubic hair maintenance, period products, sex, and masturbation. Menstrual periods are explored, and the author suggests making a vision board for your menstrual cycle. I think I’ll skip that.
So, clearly this book wasn’t a great fit for me; I think it’s most likely to appeal to people who are already New-Age-inclined.
Self-Care Down There is available on Amazon.
I received a reviewer copy of this book from NetGalley.
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