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Brazilian Waxes, Lazy Ovaries and Outrageous Orgasms:
Embarrassing Questions and Sassy Answers on Women’s Sexual Health

By Lisa Sussman

ISBN 1569755167
Review by: Michelle Humphrey


The bulk of Sussman’s material is basic sex-ed stuff, from STDs to a variety of disorders that plague the nether regions, to the right way to put on a condom. Yet while the Q & A format and sidebars à la Marie Claire have the appearance of a readable reference guide, I’m decidedly not a fan of the subtext of my-body’s-OK-your-body’s-OK-but-here-are-ten-ways-to-make-it-even-better. Surgery is repeatedly listed as a fix for what ails you: a loose vagina, big vaginal lips, and breasts that are too much or not enough. The author doesn’t necessarily praise the nip-and-tuck like a plastic-surgery poster girl, yet she fails to challenge it – just as she fails to temper her asides on beta-blockers, Prozac and hormone treatment with equal consideration to non-traditional Western remedies, like herbal teas and probiotics, cultures that help the body maintain a healthy balance of bacteria.

Sometimes, the details feel conspicuously incomplete. Sussman states that endometriosis is one of the most common gynecological problems (it’s an overgrowth of endometrial tissue that can cramp the space down there), yet she omits a developed description of a laparoscopy, one of the most common procedures to treat it. Similarly, on the topic of vaginismus, her statements are evasive. She’s correct in describing it as an involuntary muscle spasm in the vagina that can make intercourse impossible, but she ignores the complicated mind-body connection that creates the flinch in the first place. (Instead she downplays the disorder as “rare” and mostly “temporary.” Both statements are misleading.)

As expected, there are pockets of quick, insightful facts (did you know estrogen fosters “good” cholesterol?) and sisterly sex tips (like how to get rid of those leg cramps “mid-action”). But Brazilian Waxes emerges as a rehash of what’s readily available online. There is plenty of commentary, yet it doesn’t aspire to the meaning it could have had, celebrating the differences in our bodies, quoting first-person narratives from women who live full lives with health disorders, or interspersing cultural points of contention, like the way menstrual cycles are scorned on TV or absent all together. Ultimately, we’re presented with another reference book that regurgitates a glossy brand of health information rather than explores the deeper authenticities of sex and the female body.

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