Wow. This book gave me ALL the feels. Vagina Problems by Lara Parker is such an important and timely book about what life is like living with chronic pain as a result of endometriosis, pelvic floor dysfunction, vulvar vestibulitis, vaginismus, and vulvodynia combined. Candid, raw and real, Vagina Problems starts the much needed conversation about various taboo female topics that can no longer be ignored.
Lara Parker is the Deputy Editorial Director for Buzzfeed and back in 2014, she wrote an article where she openly discussed her vagina problems in detail for the first time, even letting everyone know that she wasn’t having sex due to how excruciating painful it was to her. Less than a year before she published this article, she was finally diagnosed with her vagina problems after five years of searching for answers, trying every method under the sun to relieve her pain, and getting opinions from multiple doctors who wouldn’t take her concerns and pain seriously. These debilitating conditions have wreaked havoc on Parker’s life since she was 14 years old. Vagina Problems is a detailed account of her journey fighting back against a medical community that is not only biased against women, but still knows next to nothing about endometriosis and any other vaginal disorders that women face.
I applaud Lara for using her platform to be so open and vulnerable about the topic of vagina problems and share all of the painful depths of her experience in such great detail. As a reader, it is excruciatingly hard to not take her pain and concerns seriously but Lara speaks some serious facts when she says that women are told that most of their issues or pains are associated with “really bad period cramps” or something psychological going on, and are written off many times before anything is even looked into. Not only is it heart wrenching to learn that one in ten women have endometriosis and that it takes an average of seven years to receive an accurate diagnosis, but that there is no cure or reliable method of long term relief from the chronic pain associated with endometriosis. This is not okay and we need to keep these uncomfortable conversations going if we want to see changes with how these concerns are handled in the medical community and find a reliable cure or treatment method for these disorders.
What I especially love about this book is that Lara doesn’t just describe to us in necessary painstaking detail about her day-to-day life living in chronic pain from endometriosis, she also describes her experiences with vaginal physical therapy (I had no idea this was a thing!), dating as a straight woman without being able to have penetrative sex and the depression and anxiety of feeling unloved. When she discusses her experiences in all of these areas, not only is her pain clear as day, but so is her sense of humor, strength to live her best life, and hope and determination for change and answers.
While I am incredibly grateful that I do not have any personal experience myself with endometriosis any of the other problems mentioned in this book, this book still hit close to home for me because I grew up watching my sister suffer from endometriosis and seeing her struggle with finding answers to her pain for years. I remember her missing so many days of school and work as a result of debilitating pain, nausea, and suddenly turning so pale that I thought she was going to pass out at any second. I remember her suffering from this pain when she wasn’t even on her period yet, and all of her pain and symptoms were drastically worse during her period. I remember hearing her tell me that our gynecologist wasn’t taking her concerns seriously and acted like her pain was normal and that she just experienced “really bad periods.” I remember wondering why her and I had such drastically different experiences and why even on my own worst period symptoms days, I still never seemed to be anywhere near as miserable as she was. It took my sister years, and a new gynecologist that listened to her, to finally get diagnosed with endometriosis. While she finally has an answer to her pain, she still hasn’t experienced much relief from it since her diagnosis a few years ago.
I want to mention again how important this book is. While there are parts of the book that seem repetitive, I was honestly glued to this book and finished it in one sitting. Whether or not you have experienced any vagina issues yourself, or know of anyone who has been diagnosed with endometriosis or any other vaginal disorders, I highly encourage all women to read this necessary book, hitting bookshelves on October 6th! Thank you so much to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for this gifted eARC in exchange for my honest review 💛
BEER RECOMMENDATION: Vagina Problems by Lara Parker is best paired with All Together by Mully’s Brewery and Other Half Brewing. This delicious, juicy New England style IPA is an open-ended beer collaboration started by Other Half Brewing Company with hundreds of other breweries around the world. Portions of the proceeds go toward supporting the hospitality industry 🍻