December 29 2021 | Written by Miranda Vanhaarlem (She/Her)
Ever since putting a condom on a banana in health class I have been extremely interested in filling my knowledge gap in the reproductive health field. Young Miranda used to sneak over to the Sexuality section in Indigo to nervously flip through pages eager to learn something before her mother noticed her missing. To say my collection of sexual health books has gotten out of control is an understatement; seriously, they are decor at this point. So I’ve gone ahead and created a round-up of the top 25 books to learn about all things sexual health. Whether you want to use them as decor, learn something new, support a friend with pelvic pain, or you want to be an advocate for reproductive justice, filling your brain with sexual health knowledge is never a bad idea. From sex, to birth control, the clitoris, vaginismus, masturbation, and more this comprehensive list of books has something for everyone. Happy reading book worms!
BTW - want to save this list for later? We're now on Goodreads!
If you don’t where to start, try one of my top three books!
- Sex Plus: Learning, Loving, And Enjoying Your Body - Laci Green
- Killing The Black Body: Race, Reproduction, And The Meaning Of Liberty - Dorothy Roberts
- When Sex Hurts: A Woman's Guide to Banishing Sexual Pain - Andrew Goldstein, Caroline Pukall, Irwin Goldstein
Try Sexual Health Books
For all things vagina, sex, masturbation, and the clitoris.
“Internet personality and debut author Green gives readers a jam-packed guide to human sexuality. Initial information about anatomy and a brief stopover in identity-based questions soon transition to the nitty-gritty of sex, relationships, and related topics, including consent culture (possibly the most interesting section) and kink.” - Kirkus Reviews
2. The Vagina Bible: The Vulva And The Vagina--separating The Myth From The Medicine & Rekindling Desire - Jen Gunter
“Whether she is debunking the damage done by Freud or providing the low down on the science of sex, Dr. Gunter provides a frank, funny and thoroughly science-informed perspective. This is the exact kind of book the world needs right now. Gunter pulls no punches and provides a clear and concise summation of the facts on every vagina-related topic you can think of. Seriously. Everything. The world needs more Jen!” - Timothy Caulfield, author of Is Gwyneth Paltrow Wrong About Everything?
"BANG! is a wonderful, magical journey of a book. People of all genders and genitals and understandings of their bodies will find themselves in it and—so importantly—find their ways forward in their paths to pleasure.” - Debby Herbenick, professor at Indiana University and author of The Coregasm Workout
“Have you ever had a question about sex — whether out of curiosity, desire or the sneaking suspicion that you’re, somehow, different? Every Body will help you feel less alone...Framed by dozens of artists’ illustrations, deeply personal interviews and expert essays that address stigmas and clichés, this book is an informative, welcoming and inclusive user’s guide to your body, no matter its shape, size or preferences.” - O'Henry Magazine
"A great introduction to basic information many disabled people can use. With humor, real talk, and lovely illustrations featuring all kinds of bodies, this guide can help disabled people (and their partners) on their journey toward self-love, better communication, and confidence." - Alice Wong, Founder and Director, Disability Visibility Project
6. Come As You Are: Revised and Updated: The Surprising New Science That Will Transform Your Sex Life - Emily Nagoski
“Emily Nagoski has written one of the most important books about sex any woman (or anybody else) could ever pick up, full of insights that are both fascinating and deeply useful. Synthesizing new research and theory about sexuality with old-school sex-positive information of the sort you didn’t learn in sex ed (unless, perhaps, you are a Unitarian, or Scandinavian, or lucky enough to be in Dr. Nagoski’s class), I guarantee Come As You Are will open minds and change lives.” - Carol Queen, Ph.D., Founding director, Center for Sex & Culture
"This book is essential for all people. People with periods and people who know people who get periods. It's rare to find trustworthy resources that actually reflect the full reality of the world we live in. Thinx has delivered a valuable tool for education and conversation about periods, sexual literacy, and much more. I can't recommend this book enough!" - Sally Kohn, author of The Opposite of Hate: A Field Guide to Repairing Our Humanity
“Ace is nothing less than a cultural feat. It’s a powerful book that interweaves reporting and research about asexuality in ways that will remain with readers long after they’ve turned the last page. Ace announces a new dawn, one in which asexual people are voicing their experiences without fear or shame. They’re here, simply living and demystifying misconceptions in the process.” - Evette Dionne, editor in chief of Bitch Media and author of Lifting As We Climb: Black Women’s Battle for the Ballot Box
Some More Food For Thought
- Getting It: A Guide To Hot, Healthy Hookups And Shame-free Sex - Allison Moon
- Becoming Cliterate: Why Orgasm Equality Matters - and How To Get It - Laurie Mintz
- WomanCode: Perfect Your Cycle, Amplify Your Fertility, Supercharge Your Sex Drive, and Become a Power Source - Alisa Vitti
- Want Me: A Sex Writer's Journey Into The Heart Of Desire - Tracy Clark-Flory
- The Ethical Slut, Third Edition: A Practical Guide To Polyamory, Open Relationships, And Other Freedoms In Sex And Love - Janet W. Hardy
Sexual Health and Reproductive Conditions
Explore books about vaginismus, pelvic pain, painful sex, endometriosis, and more.
1. When Sex Hurts: A Woman's Guide to Banishing Sexual Pain - Andrew Goldstein, Caroline Pukall, Irwin Goldstein
“The most comprehensive, accessible, and illuminating look into women’s sexual pain ever written, packed with up-to-date and invaluable information. When Sex Hurts is a must read for any woman, or partner of a woman, who has experienced painful sex.” - Cindy Meston, Ph.D., Professor of Clinical Psychology, University of Texas at Austin, author of Why Women Have Sex
“Lara is brilliant, honest, and in pain. She’s spent the majority of her life writing about Vagina Problems that are a must-read for anyone who has chronic pain of any kind―or anyone who loves someone who does.” - Kelsey Darragh, YouTuber, comedian, and host of the podcast “Confidently Insecure”
Some More Food For Thought
- Healing Pcos: A 21-day Plan For Reclaiming Your Health And Life With Polycystic Ovary Syndrome - Amy Medling
- Beating Endo: How To Reclaim Your Life From Endometriosis - Iris Kerin Orbuch Md, Amy Stein Dpt
- Female Sexual Pain Disorders: Evaluation And Management - Andrew T. Goldstein, Caroline F. Pukall, Irwin Goldstein
- Know Your Endo: An Empowering Guide To Health And Hope With Endometriosis - Jessica Murnane
Learn from top reproductive health advocates about race, the reproductive health movement, and more.
“An important and riveting book that skillfully and compellingly explains contemporary challenges to reproductive freedom.” —Patricia Hill Collins, author of Black Feminist Thought
“Now more than ever, as reproductive autonomy and the rights of people of color are under attack, we at Planned Parenthood know our fates are intertwined. The reproductive justice movement—which comes directly from the expertise and the lived experience of women of color—illuminated a path forward to hold the line on the rights we have won and to expand the rights of all people. We need to know the history laid out in Reproductive Justice, because we need to not repeat the ugliness of the past. Our strategies need to be inclusive and intersectional, because when women of color and those most affected by reproductive oppression are free to make their own decisions about their health and their bodies, we all win. None of us are free until we’re all free.” - Cecile Richards, President, Planned Parenthood Federation of America
3. Undivided Rights: Women of Colour Organize for Reproductive Justice - Jael Silliman, Marlene Gerber Fried, Loretta Ross
"Undivided Rights is the most complete account of the vital contribution made by women of color to the contemporary reproductive rights movement. By giving these organizers the attention they deserve, the authors illuminate a distinctive vision for reproductive health and freedom that demands an end to social inequities. Essential reading for anyone committed to the struggle for reproductive justice." - Dorothy Roberts, author of Killing the Black Body: Race, Reproduction, and the Meaning of Liberty
Some More Food For Thought
- Radical Reproductive Justice: Foundation, Theory, Practice, Critique - Loretta Ross, Erika Derkas, Whitney Peoples
- Reproductive Justice And Women's Voices: Health Communication Across The Lifespan - Beth L. Sundstrom
Reproductive Health & Fertility
Explore all things hormones, birth control, and fertility.
“In this must-read hormonal guidebook, Alisa Vitti takes readers on a fascinating voyage inside the female body and brain to demystify the science of hormones. And she lays out a one-of-a-kind nutrition and lifestyle plan to balance hormones so you can think smarter, feel better, and stress less. Your body and brain will thank you for it.” - Daniel Amen, MD, psychiatrist, neuroscientist, and New York Times bestselling author of Change Your Brain, Change Your Life and Unleash the Power of the Female Brain
2. This Is Your Brain On Birth Control: The Surprising Science Of Women, Hormones, And The Law Of Unintended Consequences - Sarah Hill
"This is Your Brain on Birth Control validates what generations of women have suspected since the introduction of the pill—birth control is doing a whole lot more in our bodies than simply preventing pregnancy. In this brilliant and witty exploration of what we know (and don't know) about birth control, Hill has provided sound evidence that is eye-opening, riveting, and a must read for all women and the people who care about them." - Dr. Jolene Brighten, NMD, author of Beyond the Pill
“Period Power reveals a new way of being for people who menstruate. Based in fact and articulated with both love and humour, Maisie Hill's strategy - to work with our cycles rather than against them - is life-changing.” - Lisa Williams, The Hotbed Collective
“Taking Charge of Your Fertility is a fantastic book, loaded with practical and beautifully presented information that will transform and empower every woman’s relationship with her fertility. I recommend it to women of all ages.” - Christiane Northrup, M.D., Author of Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom and The Wisdom of Menopause
Some More Food For Thought
- Beyond The Pill: A 30-day Program To Balance Your Hormones, Reclaim Your Body, And Reverse The Dangerous Side Effect - Jolene Brighton
- The Trying Game: Get Through Fertility Treatment And Get Pregnant Without Losing Your Mind - Amy Klein
- Period Repair Manual - Lara Briden
- The Fifth Vital Sign: Master Your Cycles & Optimize Your Fertility - Firewood by Lara Briden, ND
Trauma and Self Love
Unlock the power of radical self-love & healing your body.
“An astonishing amount of information on almost every aspect of trauma experience, research, interventions, and theories is brought together in this book, which . . . has a distinctly holistic feel to it. The title suggests that what will be explored is how the body retains the imprints of trauma. However, it delivers much more than this, delving into how the brain is impacted by overwhelming traumatic events, and is studded with sections on neuroscience which draw on the author’s own numerous studies as well as that of his peers. In addition, it investigates the effects of adverse childhood attachment patterns, child abuse, and chronic and long-term abuse. . . . [T]his book is a veritable goldmine of information.” - European Journal of Psychotraumatology
“To build a world that works for everyone, we must first make the radical decision to love every facet of ourselves. . . . ''The body is not an apology'' is the mantra we should all embrace." - Kimberlé Crenshaw, legal scholar and founder and Executive Director, African American Policy Forum
Learning for Children/Teens
Determine the best way to talk to your kid about sex, relationships, and puberty.
1. Let’s Talk About It: The Teen's Guide To Sex, Relationships, And Being A Human (a Graphic Novel) - Erika Moen, Matthew Nolan
“Honest, normalizing, and sex positive…. Puts the graphic in the graphic-novel format, in the best and most educational way.” - Kirkus Reviews
2. Celebrate Your Body (and Its Changes, Too!): The Ultimate Puberty Book for Girls - Sonya Renee Taylor
"The last thing I expected to do while reading this colorful and celebratory book for youth was cry, but as I went through each page I found myself with tears streaming down my face. Tears for my "past pre-teen self" who finally, after twenty years, felt seen... and tears for the next generation of amazing humans who will have this extraordinary guidebook (and Sonya) to hold their hand while explaining how their bodies are undeniably remarkable in every way.” - Jes Baker, Body Positive Activist, author of Things No One Will Tell Fat Girls and Landwhale
"This babymaking primer takes a decidedly inclusive approach to the topic, steering clear of rigidly gendered language and featuring a wide range of family members and configurations. Using a muted color palette, Owen's cleanly rendered art has a retro aesthetic and includes people of different races, genders, shapes, and abilities—happy-looking families all . . . An authentic and honest celebration of babies, families, and diversity." - Horn Book
Some More Food For Thought
That’s our sexual health book round-up, let us know some of your favourites!