By Sham

I finally got round to reading The Knowledge. For me, it is definitely the go-to book for all things women’s health. Thank you, Dr Nighat Arif, for writing this informative, educational and colourful book on women’s health. The book is divided into 3 main stages of a woman’s biological life which are– puberty, fertility, and menopause.

I got a little teary reading it because I wished I had this book as an 11-year-old girl...

I got a little teary reading it because I wished I had this book as an 11-year-old girl who found her shalwar soaked in blood! No one was expecting me to start my period as I was still of primary school age, while actually a lot of girls can start at young age so it is important, especially for young Muslim girls, to be aware and educated about female health and not to be raised in a household or culture where such topics like periods are considered taboo. So, when I was reading this book, I had a moment of comforting my mini self. Believe it or not, I actually read the book in one sitting!!! It is doable.

As an informative health book, it was not a boring read at all and there were many things that stood out for me, including:

1. Illustrations - It matters! The images that were chosen were of brown and olive skin as well as others. This is relatable. It made me feel included.

2. Language - Break those stigmas and taboos! I’m all for demystifying the female body. If it looks like a vagina, it smells like a vagina, it definitely is a vagina!!!

3. Educational - I learnt facts as well as medical words - Dr Arif knows her audience, she treats her readers as educated intelligent women. Don’t get me wrong there was some jargon but it was the important stuff (there is a glossary at the end to assist you).

4. Resources - I love the informative tables and charts. There was a section on the different types of HRT and how to have conversations with GPs about women’s health. Did you know doctors actually like their patients to come in and tell them about what they think and want. Women are THE best experts on their own bodies. We know when soothing is not right!!! I felt empowered to go to my GP and say these are my symptoms, this is what I think I have and what remedy may be suited for me. Obviously, there will be times I won’t have a clue but that is ok!

This is definitely THE KNOWLEDGE I needed to empower myself.

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