Lara Freidenfelds

If You’re Not a Jerk, Then I’m Not Disabled

This is my fantasy: I’m standing at the Main Street corner in my little New Jersey suburban downtown, waiting to cross the street. As usual, I’m stressed out by the giant SUVs whipping by, oblivious to the crosswalk. But then I remember the “alterations” I made to my ID cane. I whip it out, and… Read more →

Yes, We Should Tell about our Miscarriages on Facebook

Last week, Mark Zuckerberg joyfully announced on Facebook that he and his wife, Priscilla Chan, are expecting a daughter. More solemnly, he added that Chan had experienced three miscarriages before this pregnancy. He shared this personal story as a gesture of support and solidarity with other couples facing similar difficulties. It had meant a lot… Read more →

VULVALUV: Taking Wearable Tech to a New Place

It seems like every day a new health tracking gizmo appears in stores. The fitbit. The Apple Watch. TICKRx. Leaf, a tracker that’s advertised as “for women” because it’s a fitbit copycat shaped like a piece of jewelry. But are any of these really that special? Do any of them really understand what women need?… Read more →

Obergefell Made History, and History Made Obergefell

History matters. Sober and sophisticated historical research can make a difference in the world. I am proud to live in a nation that now, per the Obergefell v. Hodges decision, recognizes the rights of gay and lesbian Americans to marry their chosen partners. And I am proud to be a member of the historical profession,… Read more →

Summer, Now Known as Pedicure Season

“Isn’t the weather beautiful?” I was standing outside my child’s elementary school, making small talk with other parents at pick-up time. “Just about time to pull out sandals.” “Ooh, that’s right, I need to get a pedicure!” exclaimed another mom. “Wait,” I thought, “need to get a pedicure?” I had to ask. Maybe it wasn’t… Read more →

Can a Gluten-Free Diet, Qi Gong, or Ballet Barre Cure my MS? Only a Randomized Controlled Trial Can Say…

By Lara Freidenfelds

“You have multiple sclerosis? My cousin cured her MS with a gluten-free diet and qi gong — you should really try it!”

Since I was diagnosed with MS 17 years ago, I have heard many, many versions of this story, though with a rotating cast of miracle cures in the starring role. Some involve mainstream pharmaceuticals; many more are from the world of alternative medicine. I usually politely say, “Thanks for letting me know,” and let it drop. Everyone who tells me a story like this wishes for my good health, and I do appreciate that.

The Secret to Girls’ Success (Think: Periods)

By Lara Freidenfelds

When you were 14, if you had your period, but your parents couldn’t buy you pads or tampons, would you have gone to school? It’s unimaginable, right? It would have been too gross and humiliating to even consider. Better to pretend to be sick, and deal with the missed work and the bad grades.

In many parts of the world, that’s exactly what happens. And that means that girls don’t get educated, even where they have access to schools.

Positively Negative: Love, Pregnancy, and Science’s Surprising Victory over HIV

By Lara Freidenfelds

What would you do if you desperately wanted to have a baby, and your spouse had HIV? In the mid-1990s, the introduction of highly-effective HIV drug regimens turned HIV from a death sentence into a chronic condition. People with HIV and their life partners could begin to imagine creating families and living to see their children grow up. But it was not until 2014 that researchers and policy-makers approved a prophylactic regimen that effectively protects against HIV-transmission even without condom use. (It still is not officially condoned for family-building purposes, but some physicians are willing to prescribe it for that purpose.) For almost two decades, HIV-discordant couples faced a special kind of infertility: it was childlessness caused by the threat of illness, by fear, and by a traumatized, cautious public health and medical community that could not move beyond its initial message, that “only condoms prevent HIV transmission.”

A new e-book, Positively Negative: Love, Pregnancy, and Science’s Surprising Victory over HIV, takes us into the lives of two couples who lived this history.

Whose Sperm Counts?

by Lara Freidenfelds

Recently, a Canadian fertility clinic made the news because it refused to allow a white client to be impregnated with sperm from a donor of color. The clinic director told the media, “I’m not sure that we should be creating rainbow families just because some single woman decides that that’s what she wants.”

When I first read this, I felt offended. Personally. My husband and I are different races, and our kids are bi-racial. I guess I had never proclaimed us a “rainbow family,” but ok. The clinic’s decision to avoid creating bi-racial children seemed like a judgment on my family. Like, my family’s not terrible or anything, but as a society we wouldn’t want to go making extra families like mine if we can stick to normal, uni-racial families. Am I a bad mother because I ignored race when I chose my spouse? Would it have been more responsible of me to have my kids with a white father?

Should We #FreeTheNipple? Maybe Male and Female Aren’t That Different After All

By Lara Freidenfelds

When I was little, I copied my dad and took off my shirt on hot summer days. He would be doing yard work, and I would be running around doing something or other that was sweaty and active. It felt great. A cool breeze works much better when it hits your skin directly. He encouraged me to ditch the shirt, and my sister and brother followed suit.