Friday, June 14, 2024

Canadian best-selling author and renowned OB/GYN Dr. Jen Gunter is coming to Victoria

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Get ready, Victoria!

This event is anticipated to be one of the biggest literary gatherings in the city this year, and everyone is invited to attend.

Dr. Jen Gunter, board certified in OB/GYN and pain medicine, best-selling author, New York Times columnist, as well as a fierce advocate for women’s health, is a powerful voice worth listening to—and now’s your chance.

In celebration of Dr. Gunter’s newest book, Blood: The Science, Medicine, and Mythology of Menstruation, the Victoria Conference Centre will be hosting her in conversation with UVic Gender Studies Professor Dr. Thea Cacchioni.

Whether you menstruate or not, whether you identify as a woman or not, this conversation will provide much-needed insight, medical facts, empowerment, and connection to the shifting narrative surrounding women’s health.

Dr. Gunter herself has been a huge part of this positive shift—fighting against misinformation, spreading awareness, and helping people reclaim their lives and feel less alone in their struggles. 

Victoria Buzz had the honour of speaking with Dr. Gunter in anticipation of her upcoming discussion with Dr. Cacchioni, which will consist of a 45 minute discussion, a Q&A with the audience, followed by a book signing.

Those that attend will receive an exclusive deep-dive into Blood, key points from within and the chance to hear Dr. Gunter speak in person.

“It’s all about everything you need to know about the menstrual cycle, from puberty to menopause and everything in between,” said Dr. Gunter.

“You’ll hear me explaining why the book is so important…and I’m hoping people will want to get the book for their friends, or their sisters, mothers, or cousins as well…It’ll be a fun event.”

She highlighted that there’s such power in meeting together to discuss health topics such as these, and to give the audience the opportunity to directly engage with her and ask any questions they may have—as long as it’s not asking for personal medical advice. 

When asked if there was a specific moment she knew she wanted to write Blood, Dr. Gunter said it was a combination of things that urged her to begin writing—not only because she’s always had an interest in tackling the topic, but also because the rise in misinformation surrounding women’s health increased her urgency to spread factual information.

And what better way to do so than another book?

(Blood by Dr. Jen Gunter)

“I always wanted to write more about menstruation, because in writing the Menopause Manifesto, I knew that one of the reasons people knew so little about menopause was because they knew so little about menstruation,” Dr. Gunter said.

“During the pandemic there was a rise of misinformation about the menstrual cycle…and a rise in people selling things like diet supplements, so it was a combination of all of those things that came together.”

As soon as she made the decision to undertake this project, the challenge was then deciding how in-depth she wanted to go, what specific topics to cover, what people really need to know about each topic, which myths to bust, and more.

We asked her what some of the craziest bits of misinformation have been, to which she mentioned a DIY period-delay mix made with ingredients like Jello packages—something she actually recently covered in a video on social media.

In the video, Dr. Gunter is seen voicing-over an individual’s tutorial on how to create the perfect period-delay concoction so you can “skip” your period for the day. One of the ingredients is a Jello packet—which the tutorial allegedly claims will delay your period because of the gelatin. 

“I have no idea where the gelatin thing comes from, but that’s not evidence-based,” Dr. Gunter said in the video.

“The only way you can actually delay a period from happening is with a hormone.”

Dr. Gunter also highlighted the myths surrounding “cycle syncing,” the myth that people’s menstrual cycles will synchronize, as well as the belief that the colour of your menstrual blood means something.

“That doesn’t happen. And the colour of your menstrual blood has some meaning?—it doesn’t.”

In Blood, she discusses these myths and ways in which we can all protect ourselves from misinformation, which means checking sources and ensuring that what we’re ingesting is factual and evidence-based. 

“It’s really, really important to counteract misinformation, because once you start believing it, it’s hard to undo it. I hope [this book] empowers people to understand how their body works and they’re not left in the dark.”

“If you’re never taught in school, how would you know? If you don’t learn much at the doctor’s office, how would you know? I’m hoping to be in a position to change that narrative for women.”

And although Dr. Gunter’s main audience is geared towards adults, she wouldn’t hesitate in recommending her novels, which are heavily researched and fact-based, to a younger audience.

“Certainly a 14 or 15 year old would be old enough to read the book…a couple of people have asked if I’d be interested in writing a book for kids, but I’d have to find a children’s author to work with,” Dr. Gunter said.

“Maybe one day…but it’s not in the works right now.”

At the root, she noted that the key to changing how people view menstruation and other natural occurrences is to bring factual awareness and power in having that information—and this can be catered towards any age group and any gender.  

“We need to change the narrative around women’s health by talking about things in a positive way, by giving people information, by letting people know how their body works, [and] how to advocate for themselves at the doctor’s office,” Dr. Gunter said.

“It shouldn’t be something people are scared to talk about or thought about as taboo, because when it’s taboo or shameful then people won’t speak up when they’re suffering and they’re embarrassed about their bodies, but they have nothing to be embarrassed about.”

“This is why I’m out there doing what I’m doing!”

If this is something that interests you, you can purchase tickets to the much-anticipated literary event online for $20, or $42 if you wish to purchase a book with your ticket package. 

For anyone wanting more information or is hoping to follow Dr. Gunter’s updates, she’s not only the author of four best-selling novels, she also has an online blog, called The Vajenda

Here she discusses a wide range of topics that both interest her and enrage her—she jokes that it’s often both.

“Imagine a Venn diagram with overlapping circles labeled: Medical Facts, Feminism, and Fire. You’ve arrived at their intersection,” reads the landing page description.

Other works from Dr. Gunter include #1 National Bestselling The Vagina Bible, Menopause Manifesto, and her CBC Gem show, Jensplaining.

Dr. Gunter in conversation with Dr. Cacchioni

  • Where: Victoria Conference Centre 720 Douglas Street
  • When: Saturday, February 24th from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.

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