Category: Health and Wellness

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 →

Strange Pain, Or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Womb: A Teacher’s Reflection on Bodies in History

In fall 2015, I taught a first-year writing class called “Womb Trouble.” I don’t know if it was a very good class. I was a first-time adjunct not quite out of grad school, tasked with teaching writing to freshmen barely five years younger than me, and I latched onto the text I knew best: the… Read more →

Is Your Doctor Experimenting On You?

My friend’s father is in the hospital, and it’s been rough. His cancer treatment did not go as expected. “He’s suffering so much!” my friend sighed. “And the doctors, they’re just experimenting on him. It’s horrible.” When I heard this, I was confused. Was her father in some sort of experimental treatment? “No. But the… Read more →

We Need to Talk About Chikungunya

My friend from Rio de Janeiro got chikungunya virus in April. First she came down with a high fever. Soon after, she developed a red rash. She went to the doctor and was told she had zika. She was not pregnant nor planning to conceive; thus, she wasn’t too worried about the diagnosis. In next… Read more →