Book Review

“The Oxytocin Factor; tapping the hormone of calm, love and healing”


By Kerstin Uvnas Moberg, Da Capo Press 2003, ISBN: 0-7382-748-9


I first read this little book after studying Michel Odent’s work on oxytocin (ref. his books:

“The functions of orgasms” (2009) and “The Scientification of Love” (1999))


“The Oxytocin Factor” is an invaluable resource, looking at the autonomic nervous system including the hormonal axis; but it also has practical ways to enhance oxytocin release and use the effects in clinical practice.


Parts one and two take an in depth look at oxytocin from an anatomical and physiological perspective. It is refreshing to review these facts and understand how they apply to my work.

Parts three and four explore the multi-faceted effects of oxytocin and what can help to trigger its release. Moberg refers to the effects of oxytocin as the calm and connection system of our bodies.

She discusses this in sufficient detail, from her research, to provide new concepts for the clinician as well as for a wider population of readers.


Chapter eleven, ‘oxytocin and sexuality’, provides a valuable insight for those of us working in the area of sexual dysfunction (from both female and male endocrine systems)


I really enjoy re-reading this book as it discusses aspects of our physiological system that are essential to our long term chemical balance, and are often neglected.


Our culture and society strongly emphasizes activity and goal directed living, but this research and discussion gives us a foundation to take a different approach.

The calm and connection system gives our bodies a chance to heal and grow; and also to access internal resources and creativity.

Instead of increasingly relying on medications to enhance the calm and connection system, we can see oxytocin as an alternative.

As our external eco-systems are struggling for respect and reverence, we can maybe find hope in oxytocin to provide a balance for our inner ecology.

Linley Edmeades March 2013    

Book Review:  by Linley Edmeades, NZRP, Pelvic Health Physio, November 2012

“Vagina” by Naomi Wolf

Publisher: Virago, London 2012

If you have had an opportunity to read and enjoy any of Naomi Wolf’s previous books, then you will be delighted with this latest publication. I can remember reading “The Beauty Myth” and being astonished by her ability to identify and analyse important women’s issues.

Thorough in her writing, as always, in this new book “Vagina”, Naomi discusses theories, history and concepts in a book that is easy to read and gives you those…”oh, yes, so true..” moments.

The book begins with relevant chapters on anatomical and physiological perspectives. The information is well researched and referenced. She moves on to discuss the historical place of the vagina in culture and religion, and then looks more deeply at the long term effects of trauma and pain.

The chapter “The traumatised vagina” moves beyond physical dysfunction and Naomi discusses the underlying emotional and psychological factors from a new and helpful perspective. There is a very good section from page 114 on, that looks at the effects of vulvodynia. It is the best piece of writing that I have found to date on this topic; it is not too technical, but provides relevant and helpful comment: for example

“any time there is any kind of problem in the vulvovaginal region, it affects your whole sense of self….”

In the next section, she goes into some detail about names and words relating to the vagina. I found this especially interesting as I gave a talk to student midwives a month or so ago and, during the session, I asked them to suggest any names for the vagina that they knew or had heard as they grew up. The wide range of words and concepts was not surprising, but the number of derogatory phrases and words was! Naomi’s discussion about the pornographic vagina was amazing and important for all women to read!

The final section discusses concepts and ideas for awakening, liberating and re-discovering the vagina and in turn, re-discovering the essence of creativity and energy in a wider sense than just sexuality.

I was surprised by my own physical reaction while reading this book, and I often had to leave it for a few days, it had such a profound effect.

This book has been an affirmation and exploration of what I am hearing from women on a daily basis:

“there is more to my pelvic pain problems than just tight muscles and unhappy nerves… but I do not know what”

I recommend this book as a reference and text that women can read and understand. Naomi is an advocate and enthusiast for the vagina and the renewal of “the sacred”.



Book Review July 2011


“Half the Sky: how to change the world”

By Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl Wudunn

2010 Virago Press, London


This could be a life changing book, both for the reader and for women around the world.

It has been written by two journalists while working for The New York Times and they describe it as “an outgrowth of their own journey of awakening”.


The writers lay out an agenda for the world’s women focusing on three particular abuses:

  • Sex trafficking and forced prostitution
  • Gender-based violence including honour killings and mass rape
  • Maternal mortality (which needlessly claims one woman per minute)

It may seem to us that all of these problems are tragic but inevitable in a world far, far away; in much the same way slavery was once widely viewed by many as a regrettable but unavoidable. Fortunately in the 1780’s a few indignant people decided that slavery was appalling and needed to be abolished.

Today we see the seed of something similar: a global movement to emancipate women and girls.

“Women hold up half the sky” (a Chinese proverb)


The authors offer solutions to these problems in a practical and honest discussion about aid agencies and political motivations. It gives options for those of us fortunate enough not to be born in a country where women are disposable. There is a list of websites that offer a variety of ways to give support. One small action or a groundswell of lobbying and petitioning can make a difference.

You will need to be able to sift through critiques on global issues and American politics but do not leave this out as it gives a framework for the final chapters.


The main impact for me came from reading individual women’s stories and their battle with overwhelming oppression (both physical and mental)

The topics that were really relevant to our work as women’s health physiotherapists were maternal morbidity and mortality, fistulas from childbirth and female genital mutilation.

 This is a story of transformation. It is change already taking place, and change that can accelerate if we join in. BACK