Category: Health and Wellness

Empty Chairs at the Cancer Center: The Threat of ACA Repeal

I spend a lot of time in the place no one wants to be — the cancer center. Every two weeks I’m there with my husband. He is the patient; I am the partner. Sadly, it is always crowded. The chairs are filled and it is hard to find a place to sit, but eventually… Read more →

Referendum on a Life in the Woods

For three decades, my dad’s brothers framed houses. The three of them had a small construction business in rural Connecticut. The eldest sometimes led projects as a general contractor, and other times they worked as subcontractors. With their skills and their self-made business, they also built cozy, modest houses for themselves. That part of Connecticut… Read more →

Incarcerating Eve: Women’s Health “Care” in Prisons and Jails

In Season 4 of the hit Netflix original Orange is the New Black, we get a glimpse into the healthcare issues that plague incarcerated women in prisons. The fifth episode of the new season focuses on the crisis that the characters face when the prison has a tampon and maxi pad shortage. This shortage of… Read more →

Contraception, Depression, and Who Bears the Burden of Unwelcome Side Effects

I started taking hormonal birth control pills in September 2015. That entire past summer, I had begun to experience some early warning signs of a depressive relapse. As someone who’d battled mental illness throughout my adolescence, I dreaded that possibility intensely. Throughout my freshman year of college, I’d managed to keep depression at bay without… Read more →

India’s Commercialized Surrogacy: Blurring the Lines of Empowerment and Exploitation

Susheela, a woman from a small Indian village in western Uttar Pradesh, never imagined the day that she would help deliver a child for an Australian couple. After moving to a modest shanty in Delhi with her husband, Susheela was approached by a representative from a fertility clinic and presented with a newfound opportunity to… Read more →

On Hymens, Strength, and Nationalism

A few years ago, I was invited to give a talk at a reputedly radical university during that institution’s “Mexican Week,” an event celebrating the inauguration of a new Mexican ambassador to Canada (the country in which I work and teach). I was invited to speak on a topic of my choice treating women’s history… Read more →

Nurse-Midwives are With Women, Walking a Middle Path to a Safe and Rewarding Birth

In childbirth politics as in all politics, extreme viewpoints make the news, and sensible centrists are ignored. A couple of years ago, Ricki Lake provoked a firestorm of debate about home birth with her film, The Business of Being Born, which showcased gloriously crunchy New York City home births, and made the case for the… Read more →

On Feeding My Husband with Cancer

I am both a historian of medicine and a practicing physician. This sometimes throws into sharp relief how different medicine is today than it was even 100 years ago. One of the guiding principles in my research and teaching is called “relativism” — trying to understand people and ideas in the past on their own… Read more →

Parental Guilt & STIs: A Historical Look

If you’ve been watching television lately, you’ve probably seen Merck’s recent ads for Gardasil, the most widely used vaccine for human papilloma virus (HPV). The commercials begin with a young person in their 20s stating they have cervical cancer or have been infected with HPV. From there, we see them get progressively younger through family… Read more →

IUD: Easy as 1-2-3

“I should probably get an IUD, right?” These past couple of weeks I’ve heard this question more than ever, as my friends and I struggle to come to terms with an impending Trump presidency and the implications it could have for our personal and reproductive lives. As NPR reported earlier this week, women in my city… Read more →