Before I started writing about women's reproductive health, I'd pretty much resigned myself to being a film journalist for life. All the free movies, premieres and parties were a lot of fun, but I was beginning to think that my choice to give a film five stars or one star was being unfairly swayed by whether the complimentary pastry was stale or if the air conditioning was turned up too high.
Film reviewing is rather male-dominated, so when I ended a review of The Hottie And The Nottie with the line - 'The scandal surrounding the Hilton sex tape acts as a distraction, convincing us that sex is not a common currency that women must use in Hollywood. Paris only had to have sex with one man to get famous. She's lucky. Perhaps there's the source of the hatred' - I was quickly alerted to my feminist sensibilities. I guess the attitude had long been brewing but I'd previously attributed my views to the fact that I was educated from 11 to 17 at an all-girls school and spent a year at Mount Holyoke. I didn't think I was a feminist, I just thought I'd spent a lot of time with women.
A couple of years back I started taking the birth control pill Yaz, my fourth brand in a decade, and within months I was experiencing severe changes to my mood - anxiety, panic attacks, paranoia, rage and paralyzing brain fog. I thought I was losing my mind. After questioning every aspect of my life, and my sanity, I eventually realized it was not me, but this Pill I was taking. Yaz was then one of the most popularly prescribed oral contraceptives, so I soon found many other women - including friends - were dealing with similar side effects. My research into Yaz expanded in to an investigation of the birth control pill as a whole. My interest in its potential side effects extrapolated in to a concern for how this powerful drug is handed out like candy, and taken with a similar carelessness.
I got in contact with doctors and research scientists and found support for my concern. I put together a feature entitled "What You Should Know About The Pill" and pitched it around. The health editor at Easy Living commissioned me to produce a piece addressing women's worries about the Pill's impact - on mood, libido, fertility.
After the feature was published I began a blog. I wanted women to not suffer unnecessarily, to know that their birth control pill might be causing them to feel depressed and anxious.
Upon starting the blog I decided to come off the Pill forever. What had begun as a project to pool all the information I'd gathered soon snowballed into a social commentary on the place of the Pill in society, in history and in women's lives. As my mind cleared, my mood lifted and my energy returned to healthy 27 year-old level, I started to have some really big ideas. Feel free to take a look:
And that's how I got from talking Bob Dylan concerts with Colin Firth to here. And here, with this blog "Reproductive Writes", is where I'll be discussing all things related to women's reproductive health - not just the Pill. This week I'll start with infertility scare stories, move into the painless labor of Gisele Bundchen and then take a look at how and why men's spermatozoa are affectionately referred to as 'little swimmers.' Let me know if there's something in particular you'd like me to look into, and feel free to ask me anything - as long as it's not my opinion of Dear John.