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Our Bodies, Ourselves

4.32 of 5 stars 4.32  ·  rating details  ·  5,067 ratings  ·  136 reviews
Hailed by The New York Times as a “feminist classic,” and “America’s bestselling book on women’s health,” the comprehensive guide to all aspects of women’s health and sexuality, including menopause, birth control, childbirth, sexual health, sexual orientation, gender identity, mental health and general w ...more
ebook, 848 pages
Published October 4th 2011 by Touchstone (first published May 4th 1970)
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Aug 14, 2007 Allyson rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: abortion rights activists only
Our Bodies, Ourselves by The Boston Women’s Health Book Collective, claims to have “served as a way for women, across ethnic, racial, religious and geographical boundaries, to start examining their health from a perspective that will bring about change”. This may ring true through most of the chapters in this text. However, on the topic of abortion, a political firestorm against religious fundamentalists and anti-abortion groups is unleashed.

Unplanned pregnancies follow birth control methods, a
This book taught me why I have hair in all these new places...


Liz wrote this review for me last night while I was napping on the couch. I think she's trying to teach me some kind of lesson about leaving myself logged in to websites when I use her laptop.

I've actually never read Our Bodies, Ourselves.

Changing Bodies, Changing Lives was my jam in high school. That was the book that taught me why I had hair in new places. It failed to teach me, however, why I couldn't grow a mustache ... a my
I bought my first copy of Our Bodies, Ourselves when I was purchasing the books for my first semester's classes in college, and the then-new edition (ca. 1986) was on display for a women's studies class. Part comprehensive reference manual, part DIY health guide, part feminist manifesto (talk about the personal being political!), the book is loaded with useful information about women's physical, psychological, and emotional health issues, interwoven with personal anecdotes. The writers encourage ...more
Carrie O'Dell
Not exactly something you sit down and read cover to cover, but a vital source of information not just on sexulaity and reproductive rights, but on relationships, nutrition, pregnancy, mental health. All my nieces (current and to come) get a copy on turning 13.
Best book on women's health that I've read. Great resource to have on hand.
I actually have no idea when I first read this book--a couple to a few years ago, I guess. And yes, I read it cover to cover. It's a great reference to go back to again and again, and the companion website ( is rather helpful too. It has links to all kinds of resources that might otherwise be hardish to find. The reason I thought to mention and review it now is just that I had a few questions that I just kept googling and re-googling only to find no answers at all. The ...more
Heta Rae
I am told the the _Our Bodies, Ourselves_ books were revolutionary when they first came out about being a book by women, for women, all about women's health. The thing that I find most fascinating is how this book has changed across different editions that I have looked at. For example, in early editions, the section about how to prevent getting raped was all diagrams that showed martial arts moves, and came with the assumption that the most likely rapist was some stranger in a dark alley attack ...more
When I first encountered an earlier edition this book at the apartment of a friend I was staying at over break in 1984, it was earth-shattering. Birth control! Lesbians! but most importantly, reinforcement of my nascent notions that I as a woman had worth beyond my womb, and that I deserved to control my own body, my own fate. Now I'm looking to it for information on perimenopause and later-life health issues, and it is still an excellent resource.
This was a classic reference book among my young adult women friends in the 1970's. When my niece started college in the 1990's, I gave her the revised edition. What was so significant about the book in the 1970's is that it predates the Internet. Back then, the authors' provided current factual information on a range of women's health topics that was not readily available from "mom" or older sisters.
I only read the few chapters that I thought would be about fertility. It had textbook information but too much of a liberal slant and not enough information for those who do want children. No mention of the long- or short-term detrimental physical and emotional effects of abortion and birth control either. The general attitude was very selfish and focused only on the woman, not considering the effects her choices have on others.
Erik Graff
Dec 08, 2008 Erik Graff rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Erik by: Grinnell College
Shelves: sciences
When I entered Grinnell College a copy of the precursor to what became Our Bodies, Ourselves was placed in front of my door in Loose Hall--and in front of every other dormitory door on campus presumably--along with information about services available from the nearest Planned Parenthood and the Dean of Students' Office. Still a virgin and very, very concerned about sex, I read all the material immediately, finding the booklet more informative than anything I'd ever seen before and appreciating i ...more
Does a good job of packing a lot of info, a lot of topics into one volume. Seems like there are less personal stories, which I miss. The research is solid, well-documented. Includes a lot of resources for folks to find on their own whether they have internet, a phone, or not. I appreciate how often they stick in info about abuse and where to get help with that issue. I do kinda miss the groovy, sisterhood is powerful vibes from the original, but as they remind us in the title, this is for a new ...more
YES! YES! YES! I have to admit that this is honestly one of the very first books I looked at/read when I was a child (yes, I was advanced). And yes, even though my parents were educational, upfront and honest with me about not only the human body, but also "how babies are made", and sexuality, I still would look at this book. My mom had the very first edition in the early 1970's, and when I was in my early twenties I obtained this edition. It has since been revised as the "new century" edition, ...more
When I was in the 5th grade my brother and I repeatedly snuck this book outside and had our minds GREATLY expanded. I have to give some credit to my current ability with and deep and abiding love for the topic in question to this book ;) Many times this knowledge has been found useful to my partners as well for more than just anatomy trivia. Sure it may not be perfect, and I believe the edition I had wasn't quite as large, but ANY book that allows one to try and understand the reality and viewpo ...more
I've had this book forever, or at least what feels like it: the mid-'80s, at least. When I pulled it off the shelf today to add it here, I was greatly amused to discover, tucked in the back, the syllabus from my 1988 Human Sexuality class in college.

Although I am sure that there are more modern, more up-to-date, references on women's health out there, this title remains for me a (no pun intended) seminal work. Because I discovered it when I was coming of age both sexually and emotionally, and b
I remember when this first came out, I was in college, and the women on my floor in the dorm just loved it, and so did I. It was amazing!!!
Aug 20, 2007 autumnthing rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: all women (and men who love them)
Shelves: oft-referred-to
I'm sure I haven't read -every- chapter in this book, but I think that's the idea. It's meant for every stage in a woman's life. I first heard of this book in a collegiate Women's History class and bought my own copy of it over break. While my parents never seem to particularly withhold information from me, I was something of a "late bloomer" and have found this book very useful for filling in the gaps. To this day, I cannot help but pore over the section on Childbirth; I cry every time. What I ...more
I haven't really read the new version but have the old. some of the people involved in that book came to our college in the 70's to talk with young women about their bodies. They gave out plastic speculums and showed us how to look at our own cervixes (sp). We even looked at one of theirs! Crazy, heady stuff coming out of repression. I can't imagine that happening on a college campus today.

It was a useful handbook for my generation. Many of our mothers taught us about menstruation by passing a b
seeing as this was written in the 70s, it's a little out of date. otherwise, this book should be handed to every young woman once she starts asking questions (or should but doesn't because she's too embarrassed, like i was). there was so much valuable information in there that i would like to have had accessible to me at a younger age, as it felt a little odd to be reading this now and thinking "oh! so that's why..." loved the collective vibe; the personal stories and different perspectives help ...more
Aug 22, 2007 Alissa rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: women who want to feel empowered in body and soul
i have this one out from the library but i think i'm going to have to buy it and then it will stay forever on my currently reading shelf. it's "progressive" and "liberal" and right now, i think that's wonderful. there's a lot of info in it that felt like 9th grade health class, but there's also a lot of commentary on how our society affects women emotionally and spiritually as well as a lot of practical advice and de-mystification of helpful ways to get out from under that influence. and what ca ...more
Jul 04, 2009 Lisa rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Girls ages 11 and up.
Shelves: sex-and-womens
This book changed my life because I no longer needed to rely on my mother, or my friends for information. Or, more to the point, MIS-information. This book covers every topic a young woman needs information on about her own body, in a format that's easy to understand. Several years ago I worked at a residential treatment center for teen girls, and during a group a fifteen year old asked: "How would I know if I was pregnant? I wouldn't even know." Fifteen. And it's sad that many people reject and ...more
Arisleyda De
Super interesting! Plenty to be learned about our bodies!
Liz DeCoster
While this is a classic reference book, I find myself a little concerned about the presentation of some medical information in the book. While I understand wanting to present readers with a variety of treatment options for their maladies, I don't feel the book did a good job separating or discussing the efficacy of different treatments. Women should obviously have the ability to make decisions about their own medical treatments, but they should be provided with sufficient information to make rat ...more
Wow. My copy is nearly 20 years old. I feel ancient. An excellent owner's manual to the body.
Definitely need this essential guide to women's health for future reference on my own book shelf at home. Though I felt it's limited treatment of religion was very biased, narrow minded and ignorant, most of the book is full of useful information - especially on the biology and anatomy of women's health. If you are even slightly morally conservative and/or traditionally religious - just skip over the bits where they bash that - but don't throw the baby out with the bathwater.
This book was my mother's subtle way of letting me know it was ok to ask her questions about my ovaries. And I certainly was obsessed with my ovaries back in the day.

The best book for female sexuality and anatomy in print. Period. Our Bodies, Ourselves has a liberal agenda - and one that most feminists, or in the case of my generation, post-feminists, and resonates a political agenda that agrees with the morality and sexual health practices of modern women.

Dec 30, 2007 Angelar rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone with a vagina or who cares about someone with a vagina
This book is indispensable as a women's health reference, with a particular focus on sexuality, sexual health, and the bizarre functions of your reproductive organs. Personally, it's helped me become significantly more informed and proactive in terms of my own body and the medical care it receives.

Guys will benefit from this book, too--it contains a wealth of information on relationships, STI transmission and prevention, and how abortions work, among a zillion other things.
Best reference book on the female body you can buy. It covers everything you can think of and does it with a strong feminist/pro-woman stance (including a refreshing take on birth control that points out that the Pill and other forms of hormonal birth control are NOT for everyone, which you don't often hear). I've found myself going back to it again and again for specific questions and issues, but also love just flipping through it.
Sarah Gregg
An early foray into feminism for me, a true world-view changer. More than 20 years later I still pull it (the NEW, updated and expanded for the 90s version!) off the bookshelf for reminders about the power of women coming together to determine our health, well-being, and reproduction goals. I can't say for sure that I would be a social worker, or a feminist, without having discovered this one at age 21.
A friend gave me this back in the '70s and I still have it. I bought a newer version for my daughter. Every woman MUST own this book! It has everything a woman needs to know, but is afraid to ask or needs more information on certain topics throughout a life time. I still refer to my 70's copy. Except, there's lots new information out there now so I better update mine.
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Our Bodies Ourselves is a nonprofit education and advocacy organization focused on women's health. We aim to combine women's personal stories with reliable, up-to-date health information, while examining the social and political influences on women's health and well-being.
More about Boston Women's Health Book Collective...
Our Bodies, Ourselves: Pregnancy and Birth Our Bodies, Ourselves Ourselves and Our Children Our Bodies, Ourselves: A Book by and for Women Our Bodies, Ourselves: Menopause

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