Thursday 22 February 2018

The Wonder Down Under by Nina Brochmann & Ellen Stokken Dahl

No, The Wonder Down Under is not a travel guide about Australia. It's full title is The Wonder Down Under: A User's Guide to the Vagina. And it was utterly fascinating and illuminating from start to finish.

Nina Brochmann & Ellen Stokken Dahl are medical students (probably fully fledged doctors by now) from Oslo who worked in the area of sexual health. They quickly realised that there were myths and misconceptions about pretty much every area of female genitalia and health. Their subsequent research revealed that they also had some of their own misconceptions to bust.

As a 50 year old woman, long interested and curious about her body, I have read widely on this topic over the years. Yet I learnt so much from this book, my head is still spinning!

My only disappointment is that Brochmann & Dahl stopped before peri-menopause. Trying to find accurate, up-to-date, easy to read information about this stage of female life is very challenging. Perhaps they will revise the next edition with a chapter or two on this long ignored, hidden side of female health?

So, what DID I learn?

I learnt that the female egg does not sit passively waiting inside the fallopian tube for the winning male sperm to come along. Just like with sperm, there are thousands of eggs released each month that compete to be the final contender for impregnation. It is usually the sperm left waiting at the mouth of the fallopian tube for the mature egg to make her grand appearance.

The clitoris is not a 'little button' but is in fact the same size as a penis, except it extends internally in the shape of a wishbone. The clitoris is but the tip of the iceberg! The infamous g-spot is most likely the internal extension of the clitoris being stimulated during vaginal sex.

Only about 15% of women have 'spontaneous' desire or a wish to have sex NOW. Many females experience 'responsive' desire instead which is dependant on touch.
one in three women has a responsive form of sexual desire. At the opposite end of the scale, there are the 15% who have the 'classic' spontaneous form of sexual desire, in which you feel desire for sex out of the blue. All the other women are somewhere in between the two. Now and then, they fancy having sex without quite understanding why, whereas other times, sex sounds like a bit of drag until they feel their body responding and their head slowly joins the party. Only a small group of around 5% lacks any desire for sex, whether spontaneous or responsive.

I also learnt that the hymen is an elastic ring or fold of skin rather than a mucus membrane, which they go on to discuss very thoroughly in the Youtube clip below.

This is a fabulous book for teens and young women everywhere. Along with all the facts and figures, they discuss hair removal, periods, pain, contraceptive options, sexually transmitted diseases, masturbation, sex and pregnancy. The book is practical, empowering and fun. Popular science at it's very, very best.

Regardless of your age or gender, you will learn something you didn't know before by the end of this book.

The Wonder Down Under will be published by Yellow Kite Books via Hachette in Australia on International Women's Day 2018. It's translated into English by Lucy Moffatt.


  1. SOunds like a fun read! I remember when I read Natalie Angier's book WOMAN. Wonderful stuff. In fact, I need to reread it AND add to my list this one. Could be a fun duo-read.

    1. Fun AND informative - I can't recommend it high enough!

  2. Dang, why stop before perimenopause? This does sound like it has some amazing information anyway. Thanks for the heads up!

  3. Hopefully they have a menopause book in the wings - there is so much misinformation & myth about this phase of life - it has been very confusing trying to find accurate up-to-date info. And they could easily fill a whole book on it I'm sure :-)

  4. Haha, I do hope some people arrive at this post having read only the title and are surprised by the topic. I'm glad to hear it was such an informative read :)


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