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Vagina: A Biography's Lesson: Women Don't Have to Settle for Less

09/24/2012 11:02 am ET | Updated Nov 24, 2012

Vagina: A New Biography, Naomi Wolf's most recent book, has stirred controversy in the literary community. Ms. Wolf writes about controversial and feminist topics that are meant to enlighten and inspire us, and fuel discussions and actions that would otherwise not occur.

As co-authors of the book Healing Painful Sex: A Woman's Guide to Confronting, Diagnosing, and Treating Sexual Pain and experts in the medical and psychological aspects of sexual pain, Ms. Wolf consulted us while writing her book. We were thrilled that Ms. Wolf decided to write about a subject that until recently has been neglected and under-researched by the medical and psychological community, and barely mentioned in the training of medical and professionals and sexual counselors and educators. In Vagina: A New Biography, Ms. Wolf presents the biology of sexuality and sexual pleasure in understandable terms for the layperson.

Toni Bentley wrote in her review of the book in the September 16, 2012 issue of the New York Times Book Review that a discussion (taken out of context) between one of us (Nancy Fish), a psychotherapist specializing in helping women with sexual pain, was inane, and that Ms. Wolf's explanations of the neurobiology of sexual function were simplistic and unnecessary. Contrary to what Ms. Bentley believes, most people, medical and psychological professionals included, as shown in recent surveys, lack knowledge of the biology of sexual sensations, pleasure, and orgasm. Ms. Wolf illustrates the point that women should not have to settle for sexual pain, diminished sexual gratification, or orgasmic dysfunction due to the widespread ignorance, disinterest, and inadequacy of medical and psychological care for pelvic disorders affecting sexual function.

We care for many women in our offices with treatable vulvar and pelvic disorders who have already resigned themselves to lives of poor sexual function, because they have not had the knowledge or ability to access appropriate medical diagnosis and treatment and have been told their sexual conditions are psychologically based. We applaud Ms. Wolf on getting the word out there to women and their partners on a subject that most are apprehensive to discuss with their medical professionals. Her book may give them the courage they need to remedy a concern of great significance to a woman's sense of self.

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