Aspen Times Weekly: The Vagina Dialogues
With some trepidation, I recently stepped into a gynecologist’s office for the first time. Not having a vagina, I’d never had reason to visit before. The occasion of my appointment with Gail King was her new book, “Legs Up! The Ultimate Troubleshooting Guide for Your Vagina.”
As the title suggests, it’s not a dry textbook or medical tome. It’s a frank, funny run-down of issues she frequently treats in her patients in Aspen, with a particular eye on taboo and embarrassing topics that aren’t bluntly addressed in sex ed class or polite conversation.
“Every woman has a vagina, most men like vaginas, and everyone came out of one,” King told me in her Main Street office. “So there’s something in it for everyone and it’s applicable to at least half the population.”
The book is broken up into five parts, addressing common issues and questions that come up with her patients — ranging from libido and hormones to prolapsed uteri and HPV, bladder trouble and aesthetic issues she dubs “Granny Vagina Dilemmas.” One part, titled “The Hush-Hush Section,” tackles the topics that women tend to be most embarrassed to talk about and includes a yellow-boxed caution warning for male readers.
“Most women are embarrassed to bring up a lot of these issues,” King says. “They need to know they can talk about it — and talk to their gynecologists especially — and they’re not going to be ridiculed.”
While the book includes a glossary of terms, King sought to write in colloquial English and not in medical jargon — terms of art like “va-jay-jay,” “hoo-hah” and “lady-parts” are common here. Chapter Six is titled “Yo Thang Be Raggedy.”
“I didn’t want it to be a dull textbook,” she says. “It’s not written at all like a medical journal. I wrote it as if I were speaking to a patient. And I inserted a lot of personal stories and humorous anecdotes, because I wanted it to be an enjoyable read.”
A section about stretched-out vaginas includes a story about King being pulled into a hushed conversation among women in the kitchen at a cookout. After years of answering the same kinds of questions, King says, she realized there was no good guide for women on vaginal health out there that she knew of.
Those conversations inspired her to put pen to paper. She dedicates the book to her current and future patients, for “making Aspen more beautiful, one vagina at a time.” And while it includes some personal stories, King says she received permission from any patient whose story she shared, and was careful not to identify any of them (other than her mother and grandmother).
“What made me want to write the book is the women in my practice,” King says. “I’m saying the same things to women day after day after day, and there’s really no guidebook out there.”
The book also includes a section on solutions — surgical and otherwise — for the Granny Vagina Dilemmas. It’s the closest thing to a hard sell in the book, as King offers vaginal rejuvenation services in her Aspen office.
She’s hopeful that “Legs Up!” will become the go-to reference for women from their teens through menopause.
“It’s meant to be used by anyone,” she says. “You might just keep it on the shelf and reference it every five or 10 years as things are changing down there.”
Self-published through Telemachus Press, “Legs Up!” was released in e-book form earlier this month, with a print run to follow.
King started writing the book it the fall of 2013, and finished a draft in about six months. She spent another nine months editing and working with the publisher on design and photos. She says she had thought of writing a book as a one-off “bucket list” item. But having enjoyed working on this one, and feeling as if she’s created an important resource that didn’t previously exist, she says she’s likely to pick up the pen again and write more.
To read the eEdition, visit http://issuu.com/theaspentimes/docs/atw-012215/0