Tag: women’s health

Learning What We Do Not Know: The History and Experience of Menopause

In January 2021, I willingly underwent a procedure to implant testosterone pellets into the flesh at my hip. I had arrived at my medical provider’s clinic because of the many and varied symptoms of perimenopause that were disrupting my life. I wasn’t sleeping; I had low energy and terrible brain fog; I couldn’t regulate my… Read more →

Reproductive Designs and the Stories Behind Them: A Review of Designing Motherhood

Today almost all IUDs (intrauterine devices) look like the letter “T,” with arms that slightly droop and a string that dangles from its trunk. When inserted, the arms press against the walls of the uterus to help prevent pregnancy, and the string dangles down into a woman’s vagina as a way to check that the… Read more →

The Women’s Health Movement and the Dream of the Diaphragm

Half a century after the emergence of the women’s liberation movement, “the pill” remains ingrained in the iconography of second-wave feminism. Although the drug now comes in a sleek blister pack, the image of a retro Dialpak remains an aesthetic touchstone—a symbol of bodily autonomy now emblazoned on enamel pins, earrings, and rubber stamps. It… Read more →

Breast Cancer Care: Sexism and Knowing versus Doing

A Rise in Unnecessary Breast Cancer Surgeries A troubling trend in breast cancer treatment has surgeons scratching their heads. Since the late 1990s, more women with cancer in one breast have been opting to have both breasts surgically removed. For women without a genetic predisposition to breast cancer, this procedure – contralateral prophylactic mastectomy (CPM)… Read more →

A Tale of Two Midwives across Four Centuries

What happens when the person who delivers most of the babies in her community is arrested? This is a tale of two midwives, separated by nearly four centuries of history, and yet remarkably alike. Six months ago, certified professional midwife Elizabeth Catlin was arrested on the grounds that she was practicing midwifery without a license…. Read more →

Between the Pages: Victorian Women’s Letters to H. Lenox Hodge

This essay was first published at Fugitive Leaves, the blog of The History Medical Library of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia. Cracking open the accordion-notebook of Dr. Hugh Lenox Hodge at The History Medical Library of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia, I read from the top, thumb and index finger poised delicately at… Read more →

From Hospital to Home: Wendy Kline’s Coming Home: How Midwives Changed Birth

Wendy Kline has delivered a new addition to the history of childbirth in America. In her engaging and well-researched book, Coming Home: How Midwives Changed Birth, Kline presents a new and necessary chapter in the story of the medicalization of childbirth in the United States: the history of the home birth movement. Kline has a… Read more →

Murder and Motherhood in 1950s Ireland: The Trial of Abortionist Mamie Cadden

On the evening of April 17, 1956, thirty-three-year-old Helen O. visited nurse Mamie Cadden at 17 Hume Street, Dublin, for what she likely thought would be a routine, if illegal, abortion.1 Helen O.’s death after the attempted abortion provoked a national controversy that complicated dominant constructions of motherhood and domesticity in mid-twentieth-century Ireland. In the… Read more →

Church Discipline and Miscarriage Mismanagement at Catholic Hospitals

Quick — is your nearest hospital affiliated with the Catholic Church? This is a question I would not have been able to answer during my two pregnancies. It never occurred to me that it was relevant. But in fact, for a woman who has a pregnancy complication that sends her to the emergency room, it… Read more →

Meanings and Materials of Miscarriage: How Babies in Jars Shaped Modern Pregnancy

In 1866, a young man in Crestline, Ohio, visited Dr. J. Stolz to ask the physician for help. Mr. B’s wife was in much pain and distress, and Mr. B feared for her life. Stolz accompanied the young man back to his house where he found the 16-year-old woman thrashing about in bed, screaming in… Read more →