Family Life

My mom survived breast cancer. Am I next?

On average, an estimated 15.2% of new cancer cases in the United States are women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer. That means that 1 in 8 women in the United States will develop breast cancer at some point in their lifetime. 

These statistics are indicative of families, touched eternally by a cancer that is more than just a disease – it is linear. Breast cancer often weaves a thread, mangled in fate and fear, through mothers, daughters, and sisters alike. The survivors among them are the superheroes of nearly every generation of women, powering through all of the anxiety, body disfiguring surgeries or treatments, and impromptu decision-making associated with the onset of such an illness. They take this disease and nip it in the bud, almost passively, acknowledging the unforgiving weight that will forever be weighing down their bodies and minds. 

In some cases, before these women can even think about what comes next, they are sewed up, stripped, and shaved. Left without any sensation in their breast area after a mastectomy, and feeling less and less whole with every visit to the oncologist. It is hard for most women to even feel at home in their bodies anymore. 

In February of 2017, my mother sat in a bleak and claustrophobic doctor’s office for her regular mammogram visit and heard the dreadful words that every woman lives in fear of, “I think we’re going to need to take a second exam. There may be cancer.” 

There was. 

She has told me that she spent most of her life, 38 years to be exact, in terror of what was surely to come. When my mother was 17 years old, the same age that I had been when she was diagnosed, her mother passed away after a long and debilitating battle with breast cancer. Afterward, this disease became a constant threat. So, in some ways, her diagnosis was more of a relief than anything else.

For me, however, it was excruciating. I had a hard time fathoming the enormity of it. Often, I would find myself drenched in hot and burning tears, unable to put into words what I was feeling. I was incoherent and unable to be comforted. I really hated it when people tried to comfort me, too—it felt condescending. I didn’t want to need them.

But, at the same time, I wasn’t even close to being the strong person that I presented to the world. I was falling hard—and fast. Most days, I would go to school or hang out with my friends, but the entire time I felt as if there were a million knives stabbing my chest at any given moment, and I couldn’t help it. Sometimes, I even liked feeling the pain. If my mom had to suffer, then, I thought, so did I. 

Years later I’m able to articulate my thoughts a little more clearly. I was terrified, desperate, and I didn’t know where to turn. So much was happening all the time and I was grieving my old self. That is, the self that hadn’t yet felt such complete and sunken remorse. There was this urgency to do everything right. In a situation like that, there’s no room for mistakes and I was incredibly nervous that I would mess up. Or maybe I was nervous that something would mess me up. Either way, I changed a lot that year. 

Unfortunately, our story is not an uncommon one. 

A woman’s chance of developing breast cancer increases if her mother, sister, or daughter has been diagnosed. In addition, women who carry the BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene are at an increased risk of breast cancer than women who do not carry the gene. 

My mom is thankfully, and gracefully, in remission today. Her fight seemed, on the outside, to be continuous and suffocating. But, she is a survivor, bold and vivacious, in all of her glory. She has the scars and the strength to prove it, too. 

I am well aware that my risk of this disease is high. But, I am also confident that this does not mean that it is a death sentence. Regardless of being only 21 years old, I am diligent in conducting breast exams on myself at least once a month in an attempt to detect any early warning signs of breast cancer. What I search for is any abnormal lumps or changes in the breast tissue/skin. 

The good news is that with advancing technologies the survival rate of people diagnosed with breast cancer is steadily increasing, even though the number of people getting sick remains stagnant. 

Any cancer diagnosis is terrifying, but breast cancer for me feels like a self-fulfilling prophecy. I won’t be able to stop being overwhelmed by this sharp and unrelenting nervousness until it is completely out of my system. And we all know that there is only one way for that to happen. 

For now, I am trying to focus on what I am able to control. Breast cancer is certainly not one of those things. But, I am in control of my mindset. While it is important for me not to let my guard down, at some point I have to just let go and let it be. I trust that fate will run its course. 

I come from a long legacy of confident and courageous women, all beautiful and bountiful in their own right. So, it would be a disservice if I did not take their wisdom and hold onto it tightly. I mean, I watched while my own mother boldly stared her fears directly in the face. She never skipped a beat, not even for a second. Her resilience against a disease that is otherwise overbearing is nothing short of inspiring and I am so proud of her. Because of her, I am starting to think that maybe I can handle it too, that maybe I can be as brave as her, when and if the day comes. 

I am not alone in my fear, although it may seem like it sometimes. I am one of millions living and feeling these same anxieties at full volume, so I must not let it overcome me. Instead, I have to remind myself to be introspective and to keep moving forward.

Health Care Skin Care Love Wellness

Getting clear skin wasn’t worth the drastic measures I took

After a day out in the city, my friends and I gathered lazily around our common room swiping through the photos we’d taken. “Look at this one! It’s cute, should I post it?” One of them exclaimed, stretching her arm out to show me her phone. “Stop moving, let me see,” I laughed, holding her hand steady. It was a really nice group photo, even though sunlight was beating on our faces, making us squint a little. But then I looked at myself.

We all do this when inspecting group shots, and for a moment I was stunned. “Oh my god, look at me,” I said, zooming in on my face. I was grinning, leaning on one of my roommates, but I was more focused on my skin. My skin looked rough along my cheeks, faint red bumps that peeked out from my foundation. “Do I always look like this?” I asked, in despair.

Skin problems and acne were not at all new to me, but I had just turned 20. Wasn’t that period of my life supposed to be over? I had a brief period of respite in the past two years where my skin cleared up. I had assumed that the days of imperfections and waking up with red splotches were over and that my skin finally decided to act right, but I was wrong. It came back with a vengeance, and I tried almost everything possible to return to ‘normal’. 

I cycled through different topical treatments, face-washes, and diet changes to little avail. I didn’t like to bring it up to anyone because I was afraid of drawing attention to something I already assumed was my most prominent feature. Plus, I dreaded the classic answer of “just drink water!”

I always heard of other people taking these pills called Accutane. Everybody I knew who spoke about it, made it sound like a miracle drug. I remember a friend enthusiastically telling me that she noticed her nose getting smaller as a result of taking the medicine. But I always stood against it, because I had also heard stories of liver failure and other scary side effects. I swore I would never put beauty over my health, would I really damage my organs just to look ‘better’? I was convinced it wasn’t my risk.

However, as my acne refused to fade away, with even the Ordinary failing to give me any results, I began to cave in. At first the dermatologist hesitated to prescribe me the strong treatment as she didn’t think my skin issues were as severe as they seemed to be in my head. After all, this is a drug that is only supposed to be a last resort given how potent it is and the way it completely dries out the skin. But I insisted. So I started taking Accutane.

From then on, I went about my day with perpetually cracked lips and dizziness that would come and go. But it was all worth it, because after two months, my skin started to clear. I was beyond elated. A typical timeline with Accutane was six months, on a gradually higher and higher dose, so I continued to take the pills even as my skin grew drier and drier and my hair started to fall. But my monthly blood tests were coming out fine, so I knew I wasn’t at risk of anything serious.

My wake-up call finally came when I woke up with swollen legs, my body speckled with red dots. I had suddenly gotten a severe allergic reaction to the medicine. That was when I knew it had to stop.

When did I get so carried away? When did perfect skin become so important to me that I put my health at risk? I really got lost in the ‘beauty is pain’ mantra and forgot that my ultimate priority should be my wellbeing. I’m just thankful that it was a lower-risk health scare that brought me back to my senses, as it could have been a lot worse. 

This experience showed me the drastic measures and sacrifices women make to achieve a perfect look. Most women’s skin acts up, and that’s normal. It’s natural. We weren’t all made to have porcelain skin, that’s just bullshit made to sell us dozens of pots of clay masks and acids over serums.

Skincare is important, but it doesn’t have to be so high-stakes.  All it can take is something simple like seeing your imperfections in the mirror or what you see as an unflattering photo to launch you into a possibly dangerous path.

I’ve been there, and I can tell you it’s not worth it at all. 

Gender & Identity Life

I had to tackle my mental illness, but my medication was debilitating

For many people who struggle with mental illness, medication provides relief and stability. There are a lot of different ways to manage various mental illnesses, including therapy, downloadable apps, exercise, diet changes, and meditation, and the appropriate course of action must be determined after conversations with your doctor. After my anxiety and depression started intensifying, I realized that my usual go-to methods of stress relief, such as working out, were no longer cutting it. I knew that I needed to find a different form of help, so my psychiatrist prescribed me an anti-depressant.

I was not at all prepared to get my ass kicked by this medication. I did not know that even the lowest dosage would cause one of the worst migraines of my life that restricting me to my bed all day. I was nauseous, disoriented, and miserable. I spent most of the day sleeping, and when I was awake, I fought a constant churning in my stomach.

I felt worse on the meds than I did without them.

I immediately contacted my doctor the following day, when the side effects wore off enough for me to make a coherent phone call. For the next two months, my psychiatrist had me try new medications, with almost all of them having negative and debilitating side effects. One mood stabilizer put me to sleep for almost 10 hours; my mom checked on me constantly, worried about my near-coma state.

I was frustrated and feeling helpless. The doctor explained that, for whatever reason, I am just very sensitive to psych meds. Some people experience the severe side effects I encountered, but most people only deal with milder symptoms. Since he was already prescribing me the lowest possible dosages, I couldn’t even downgrade to a lower level in hopes that I would be able to tolerate the medicine. He told me that many of the symptoms would wear off after taking the medication for an extended period of time. But since the pills made me feel so horrible, I couldn’t even make it past one day of taking them.

I knew that I needed medication to address my mental illness, but my body was rejecting it. I needed anti-depressants to feel better, but I felt 100 times worse when I was laying in bed in the middle of the day, fighting back vomit and attempting to sleep off migraines. As much as my mental illness had started to cripple me, it seemed that the remedy I needed the most was only contributing to my problems.

I did eventually find a combination of medications that caused few side effects, and I was able to keep taking them long enough for most of the symptoms, like headaches and sleepiness, to wear off. I still struggle with occasional insomnia and a decreased appetite, but at this moment, I would rather deal with those issues than suffer from near-blackouts. And when I found the medication that I could tolerate, my mental health improved greatly. It’s still something I struggle with, but now at least I have a clearer path to recovery.

I know that my decision to ask for meds was the right one. While it was initially difficult to find the right prescription that worked for me, I’m glad that I sought help when I did. Trying different medications showed me that there is no one-size-fits-all method of treatment when it comes to mental illness. You just have to remember to keep trying and you’ll figure it out.

Health Care Reproductive Rights Love Life Stories Advice Wellness

Yes, getting an IUD was painful AF, but I don’t have a single regret

With Donald Trump and the right’s attacks on women’s access to birth control and abortions, it’s no surprise that healthcare providers have seen an uptick in the number of women who choose to prevent pregnancy via IUD.

An intrauterine device (IUD) is a small plastic or copper object that is inserted into the uterus which prevents sperm from coming into contact with eggs. The IUD is over 99% effective, making it safer than condoms and birth control pills. And an IUD can last from three to 12 years, which means a doctor can insert it and you can forget about it until it expires, knowing that you’re protected for a long time.

I decided to make the switch to an IUD in 2015 for many of the reasons noted above and more.

The pill was too easy for me to forget about. If I traveled, I wanted the convenience of a steady birth control method that I didn’t have to adjust my schedule for. If I lost health insurance, I wanted a way to protect myself for at least a year.

I wanted highly effective contraception that was almost fool-proof.

I decided the IUD would give me the freedom and peace of mind I craved.

After an initial exam with my gynecologist about the different types, I chose Skyla, a three-year IUD that is made specifically for younger women who have never had children. I assessed the risks associated with IUDs, such as the possibility that it may puncture my uterus or even fall out. My gyno assured me that these were rare side effects and told me if I had extreme pain or any problems, to call the office immediately.

During the insertion, I was seated on a table with my legs in the stirrups, much like a regular gyno exam. My doctor inserted the IUD with a long tube.

The whole process took less than a minute, but I have to admit, it fucking hurt.

I felt dramatic asking for a bag of cookies, but hey, I had also just seen my life flash before my eyes. The doctor and nurse were very caring and allowed me to stay as long as I needed until I felt well enough to go home.

My doctor told me that an IUD will usually cause more cramping and bleeding, and this can last for at least three months because my body had to get used to it. She also informed me that everyone is different, and my side effects might stop sooner.

Finally, she told me that the IUD may stop my period, and this is perfectly normal.

I ended up having serious cramping for only a couple of weeks, but I was looking forward to never having to worry about taking the pill on time or stressing out about a broken condom, so the painful cramps were worth it to me. The IUD did stop my period for several months, and to be honest, it was awesome.

I normally have heavy periods, so it was a relief not to deal with them for a while.

When I eventually did start my period again, I experienced incredibly painful cramps. These severe side effects have since waned for the most part, but the bottom line is your body definitely needs time to adjust to the new foreign object inside of it. This reality should be taken into consideration if you plan on getting an IUD before any major traveling or life changes.

Of course, the IUD does not prevent against STDs, so it is a good idea to use other forms of protection, especially with new partners.

In a very real way, the IUD was liberating for me.

While I had been on the pill, I always found myself anxious about the effectiveness. I worried about taking it on time and I had heard plenty of stories from women who got pregnant on the pill. For me, the pill wasn’t enough security against an unwanted pregnancy.

My IUD reduced my sex- and pregnancy-related stress.

Despite the awful pain at the time of insertion, I highly recommend it because, in the end, it’s so much easier than many other forms of birth control.

Having a form of contraception that no one can take from you and that you never have to worry about is real freedom.

The Vulvasation Love

5 unbelievable ways your period blood is sacred and magical

We’ve heard it our whole lives: period blood is dirty.

We’re taught to think of period blood as waste, something that should never be seen, touched, smelled, tasted or celebrated for how it empowers us and our wellbeing.

As someone with PCOS, regulating my period is a desperate endeavor. The Pill worsens my depression, and so far my attempts at natural regulation have been unsuccessful. So just the thought of being able to peer into my panties and see that glorious red spotting makes me emotional beyond words. It’s been four months since my last period and the absence made me conscious of the way period blood acts in my life.

Of course, many people experience menstruation differently. Some menstruate painfully while others do not menstruate at all. Transgender men and women also have different, sometimes emotionally difficult experiences with menstruation. For this reason, menstruation is not an experience specific to cis-women only.

But what I want to address is the alternative conversation we can have around period blood. To deny the narrative that it’s disgusting and makes you unclean, but rather focus on its, frankly, anticolonial qualities.

1. Your period blood is an act of sovereignty.


Our bodies are countries under attack.

Menstruating people are expected to conform to the standards that western, capitalist, patriarchal society places on us; be silent, be invisible, be afraid. to reclaim something like our period blood, a fluid typically thought of as dirty, impure and even toxic, is to reclaim our sovereignty.

In other words, to take our bodies back from state control.

2. Your period blood is a source of pleasure.


Whenever I have my period I feel horny, to put it plainly. But because mainstream education teaches us to hide away our period blood, not to touch it and use it for pleasure, we feel confined in our sexual desires, even embarrassed by it.

But period sex and period blood can be orgasmic. Period blood, because of its consistency and volume, can be used as lube for different sexual play, whether masturbatory or with a partner or partners.

3. Your period blood is a source of healing.


Yup, it turns out that your period blood is a source of stem cells. New Scientist states that period blood is rich with endometrium stem cells. One study showed that the cells could even be “coaxed into differentiating into nine different types of cells, including fat, muscle, bone and nerve.”

There are even banks that have opened to collect and preserve period blood. Banks like LifeCell Femme and CryoCell International offer such a service.

4. Your period blood is not connected to ‘femininity.’


It’s true, for some people menstruating makes them feel more connected to their womanhood and ‘femininity’. But this is not the case for everyone. For genderqueer, gender non-conforming and transgender people, the act of menstruation is something that belongs to them and them alone. Branding menstruation as a feminine and cis-woman-only experience is not only plain wrong but also oppressive and violent.

As we know, transgender, genderqueer and gender non-conforming people experience gross human rights violations on a daily basis, from being told that they don’t exist to fatal public attacks by both civilians and police.

In this way, menstruation can alternatively be called ‘moonstruation’, ‘mxnstruation’ or anything else that is deemed more gender-inclusive.

And to all the TERFs (Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminists) out there: this is a valid form of thinking about periods.

End of story.

5. Your period blood is celestial.


Remember I mentioned the term ‘moonstruation?’

Well, your menstrual cycle is believed to be connected to the phases of the moon. Many people track their cycles through watching and noting the phases of the moon according to their reproductive health. This can be done by looking at what phase the moon is currently in, and how you are feeling that day; down there, emotionally and physically.

Many people who follow this are pushing the belief that you have to sync your cycle with certain phases of the moon, but this is simply not the case. Your cycle will change with your body and your situation and even your exposure to moonlight.

I know many people will dub this kind of belief as strange, ‘shamanistic’ and not scientifically-backed, but my belief is that science cannot answer all our questions. There are many indigenous cultures around the world who, before colonization, had their own way of understanding their bodies. Western society has taught us to believe that these people are backward and barbaric and even unintelligent for still following these beliefs, but of course, that kind of rhetoric is inherently racist and Eurocentric.

If you want to learn more about periods, both for menstruating individuals and non-menstruating individuals, I highly encourage you to check out La Loba Loca’s Online Knowledge Share. The course taught me to understand my body and my situation deeply, and to respect every step of my journey with love, kindness, and power.

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Love Life Stories

When I was living with a seizure disorder abroad, I had to learn how to find the beauty in everything

It was my second year in Spain, the year I was hunting for poetry in everything.

In August of 2014, I had a grand mal seizure on the floor of my parents’ living room while I was home visiting. My neurologist diagnosed me with temporal lobe epilepsy, and two weeks later I was back in Madrid where I had a job teaching English.

My first year abroad had been idyllic, but now I was returning on an anti-seizure medication with a laundry-list of possible side effects. They included irritability, drowsiness, depression, mood swings, poor coordination, muscle tremors, and short-term memory loss. I experienced all of them.

[bctt tweet=”It was my second year in Spain, the year I was hunting for poetry in everything.” username=”wearethetempest”]

Before moving to Madrid, I imagined myself as the protagonist of a coming-of-age film who “finds herself” in Europe. I hoped I’d have tumultuous love affairs. I hoped my life would resemble the movie Before Sunrise, or maybe a Henry James novel.

Instead, I found myself struggling to navigate a foreign medical system. 

I needed a Spanish neurologist to prescribe me medication with fewer side effects, but first I needed a referral for a specialist, an overnight EEG, and approval from my private insurance company for the procedure. This process took eight months.

In the meantime, my muscle tremor was so bad that I once dropped a full glass of orange juice in the break room of the school where I worked. The glass shattered on a table in front of all my coworkers. I stared at the shards, paralyzed with embarrassment. Before I could explain, my brain went from calm to hysterical. I ran to the bathroom to cry in private. I was aware that my emotional response was disproportionate to the event, but still unable to console myself.

It didn’t matter how much I exercised or meditated. I had three moods: irrationally angry, despondent, and giddily talkative. In a perverse way, I liked being able to pinpoint the cause of my problems. I’d always half wished for diagnosis more specific than “depression.” Now I had a tangible neurological condition, but the solution was completely out of my control.

At 23, I had never thought much about my health before. Now I had to be vigilant about taking care of myself. I had to get enough sleep every night. My doctor sternly instructed me not to have more than one glass of alcohol at a time, perhaps unaware of Madrid’s culture of staying out til 7:00 am every weekend. I tried to go out, but I never knew what to say when people asked me why I wasn’t drinking. I could either be purposefully cryptic, which led to more probing questions, or I could overshare my entire medical history. Now that someone told me I couldn’t do it, all I wanted was to get sloppy drunk and make reckless decisions.

[bctt tweet=”In a perverse way, I liked being able to pinpoint the cause of my problems” username=”wearethetempest”]

To cope, I told myself that I was having an “experience.” Each morning I took two metros and a bus to get to the tiny village where I worked. On my commute, I would see a piece of graffiti on a brick wall stating in black spray paint simply “HOW TO LOVE.” I heard the Ecuadorian buskers’ flutes in the metro warp into eerie coos the farther I walked down the platform in the afternoons. I watched the sun rise and set over fields of yellow flowers and herds of sheep. I thought over and over again about “HOW TO LOVE” and who had written it but could never find the words to explain why it felt so beautiful to me.

There is a rare side effect of temporal lobe epilepsy known as hypergraphia, or the intense desire to writeIn the months following my seizure, these phenomena kept reappearing in my life. I read about it first in my obsessive googling of everything related to temporal lobe epilepsy. Then I started seeing articles on my favorite publications about curious cases of people who never wrote poetry until after they had a seizure, who suddenly started keeping meticulous journals, or people who couldn’t stop writing the same word or phrase over and over again on sheets of paper. 

I filled up shelves worth of journals in Spain. I began and abandoned poems. I thought of lines everywhere, wrote them down, repeated them over and over again to myself. I don’t know if this was hypergraphia. I’ve been a compulsive journaler since 1998, but I liked the idea that a surfeit of electrical activity in my brain could endow me with a superpower.

With every irrational mood swing, I decided “this will be poetic one day.” I had no evidence that my compulsive journaling was anything other than circumstantially related to my condition, but I survived by telling myself there was a reason for all of it. 

[bctt tweet= “With every irrational mood swing, I decided ‘this will be poetic one day.'” username=”wearethetempest”]

In February, the insurance company finally approved me for the overnight EEG.

On Valentine’s Day, a nurse glued multi-colored electrodes to my head while No Doubt’s “Don’t Speak” played on the radio. I wondered about the effect of a song I’d been obsessed with in middle school on my brainwaves. The nurse’s soft voice sounded through a microphone in another room. She instructed me to hyperventilate, close my eyes while bright lights flashed, read aloud, and do math problems. I was in a sci-fi movie and it was all taking place in my second language. I journaled in my hospital bed, wondering again whether my thoughts had an effect on the test.

[bctt tweet=”I was in a sci-fi movie and it was all taking place in my second language. ” username=”wearethetempest”]

It’s been almost three years since I’ve had a seizure. In the first year following my seizure I spent a lot of time staring out bus windows and thinking about ‘HOW TO LOVE.’ The second year, I made a lot reckless decisions as if to compensate for having taken such good care of myself before.

This past year has been spent readjusting to my own culture and finding out how to make my life interesting without the built-in poeticism of a city like Madrid. The inability to control my emotions disappeared as soon as I switched medications, but my desire to make things from my pain has remained.

Now, I think I finally figured out what ‘HOW TO LOVE’ means.

It means I figured out how to love my circumstances, even as I felt helpless, by finding beauty in someone’s ugly graffiti scrawled across a brick wall in the middle of nowhere.

Science Now + Beyond

Men’s birth control trials were halted for the stupidest reason ever

“It makes more sense to unload a gun than to wear a bullet proof vest,” is a pretty popular saying among proponents of male contraception. The idea is that it’s more efficient to limit male sperm release than to prevent female pregnancy once sperm has entered the scene. Just this week, we heard news of a highly effective male contraceptive shot that could have changed the game for men’s and women’s sexual health. But just as quickly as that option became a possibility, it was taken away.

A study of the male contraceptive injection, co-sponsored by the United Nations, was published last Thursday in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism. The study tested a hormonal injection of testosterone and norethisterone enanthate (a fancy version of progesterone and estrogen) on 320 fertile men to record its effects on decreasing sperm count. The idea behind the injection is very much about “unloading the gun.” In an interview with CNN, Dr. Seth Cohen, a urologist at NYU Lagone Medical Center explained, “basically, the brain assumes the body is getting enough” testosterone when a man receives an injection like the Male Contraceptive Injection and then the body ceases testosterone production like “the testicle’s production of testosterone as well as the testicle’s production of sperm.”

Remarkably, the injection was 96% effective as a contraceptive–making it an awesome alternative to birth control pills or even condoms (though it does not prevent against STDs).

So, what’s the problem?

However, 20 of the participating men reported that the injection’s side-effects were unbearable, halting the trial. What side effects? Depression and mood swings, acne, muscle pain, injection-site pain, and libido changes. Upon hearing this news, many women became outraged that men couldn’t seem to put up with side effects that are highly common among female birth control users as well.

This news is particularly troubling to women for two main reasons: women’s pain has historically been undervalued by the medical community and women suffer similar side effects from birth control.

If you’re a woman who’s ever visited a doctor’s office or been in pain, you know that our pain is often undervalued. I mean, cramps can be so excruciating that they land women in the ER, yet we’re supposed to go about our days as though everything’s fine. It turns out that this experience of pain is not just anecdotal, but supported by scientific research.

Research shows women with the same abdominal pain as men are likely to wait 65 minutes in ERs as compared with men’s 49. Further, women are less likely to be prescribed painkillers and more likely to be diagnosed with mental illnesses (I mean, women are just “emotional, right?) than male counterparts. All this taken into account, it’s no surprise that men’s reactions to birth control side effects would be taken more seriously than women’s.

Because female pain is undervalued, little research has actually been done on birth control’s side effects among women. When the JAMA Psychiatry journal broke the news that female birth control causes similar side effects like depression and mood swings, women were like “…duh?”. I mean, this wasn’t exactly news to us, but it did remind the world that we aren’t just “crazy, irrational, and emotional” creatures.

Kinsey Institute faculty scholar and Indiana University Bloomington professor of biology and philosophy Elisabeth Lloyd emphasized the difference between men’s and women’s treatment: “Twenty percent or 30% of the women who take oral birth control pills experience depression and have to take medication for it.” said Lloyd. Yet, the Male Contraceptive Injection researchers “terminated this study once it showed 3% depression for the men.”

All that’s not to say that men should have to put up with the side effects of the Male Contraceptive Injection. But if they shouldn’t, neither should we. If you’re a women who takes birth control, the announcement of these side effects likely didn’t surprise you — because those are the same side effects women have faced since the 1960s. We can all agree that safe methods of birth control are a must, but shouldn’t that level of safety be the same between women and men? If men shouldn’t be expected to deal with those side effects, neither should women.