Our Bodies, Our Blog

Women with Breast Implants Should Not Need to Wait for Safety Information They Urgently Need

By Guest Contributor |

by Rose Weitz and Diana Zuckerman

Although breast implants have been sold since the 1960s, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) first approved the use of silicone gel breast implants in 2006. By then, many women with implants had already reported a range of problems, which result in many women seeking additional surgery within just a few years of implantation. 

And the problems have become more serious. Last year, for example, Allergan did a worldwide recall of their textured Biocell breast implants and expanders because of evidence that these implants caused an increased risk of a type of lymphoma called ALCL. 

The FDA has the authority both to require solid evidence of safety before putting any implant on the market and to require companies to collect health data from implant patients for years afterward. Without these data, it is impossible for women or their doctors to know what are the possible consequences of different implants, what symptoms to look for, and which implants should be surgically removed – assuming an individual knows the make and model of their implant and can afford up to several thousand dollars to remove it. 

Collecting data is a small thing to ask of manufacturers who have been profiting from breast implants for many years. Yet even this has proven too much for these companies, or for the FDA to enforce. For example, in May 2019 the FDA sent letters to two manufacturers, Mentor Worldwide and Sientra, warning that the manufacturers had failed to collect the required data for implants that were already on the market and would need to improve their data gathering or face potential criminal or civil penalties. The FDA also sent warning letters in May 2020 to Allergan and Ideal. The FDA criticized Allergan for their failure to recruit and follow-up with as many patients as had been promised. The agency warned Ideal that the companies’ efforts to rectify previous problems were inadequate, including failing to accurately report consumer complaints, failing to keep adulterants out of its silicone, and failing to notify the FDA about malfunctions of its implants that could result in death or serious injury. Meanwhile, all these implants are still on the market.

Last October, in response to the pleas and demands of thousands of breast implant patients, the FDA proposed that a black box warning be affixed to all implant packages to inform women and their doctors about the most serious risks of breast implants. In addition, the FDA proposed that all patients be required to sign an easy-to-understand checklist of possible risks before implant surgery is scheduled.

These proposals were much weaker than what patients and their advocates had demanded. In response to the FDA’s request for public comments, a Working Group of patients, public health advocates, and plastic surgeons submitted a critique — along with a petition signed by over 70,000 people – urging the FDA to be more explicit about the proposed warnings. Public comments were due in December 2019, but as of June 2020 the agency has still not revised its proposal. 

Buyer beware, indeed.

Free the Pill!

By Guest Contributor |

by Carrie Baker

Sixty years ago this month, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the birth control pill for distribution in the United States — a game changer for women’s lives. Before approval of the pill, most women were married by age 19, and more than half of them were pregnant within the first seven months.

Once the pill became available, women for the first time in history had a reliable form of contraception that freed them from the unrelenting fear of unwanted pregnancies. With a … More

group shot of young reproductive justice advocatesgroup shot of young reproductive justice advocates

Please Support Civil Liberties and Public Policy During the Covid-19 Crisis: An Appeal from Judy Norsigian

By Judy Norsigian |

These challenging times require fierce, broad, and intersectional activism – which is just what Civil Liberties and Public Policy (CLPP) has been doing for the past four decades. This now-independent nonprofit, which used to be affiliated with Hampshire College, continues its unique movement-building work preparing younger activists to work on the front lines of today’s struggle for reproductive justice. Please consider supporting CLPP today with a generous donation. 

As we know, the Covid-19 pandemic is disproportionately harming those in our communities who were already facing … More

photo of quote from Barbara Seamanphoto of quote from Barbara Seaman

Our Doctors, Ourselves: Barbara Seaman and Popular Health Feminism in the 1970s

By OBOS |

“If the plastic speculum was the tool of choice for self-help advocates, leading women to a better understanding of their own bodies, then the popular media was Barbara Seaman’s preferred weapon in the cultural battle against medical sexism.”
— Kelly O’Donnell, in her article “Our Doctors, Ourselves: Barbara Seaman and Popular Health Feminism in the 1970s”

Barbara Seaman, a popular journalist in the 1960s and 70s who wrote for magazines including Brides, Ms., Ladies Home Journal, and Family Circle, was one of the first journalists to … More

The Very Early Perimenopause: What We Can Learn from Dr. Jerilynn Prior’s Research

By Guest Contributor |

by Nina Coslov

In my early 40s, I started noticing changes in my body. A once great sleeper, I was now waking at 2 a.m. – often with lots of energy and sometimes with anxiety. I’d be awake for about 3 hours before I could get back to sleep. Around the same time, premenstrual breast tenderness returned — something I hadn’t experienced since my 20s, before I had children. Not long after, I’d notice from time to time a pervasive edginess, a revving — an energetic … More

Woman handing menstrual supplies to Colombian prisonersWoman handing menstrual supplies to Colombian prisoners

Dirty Business: Lack of Menstrual Equity in Colombian Prisons

By Guest Contributor |

By Charlie Ruth Castro

Lee este post en español

Let’s talk about menstruation – a natural and necessary process among women, but one that we have been culturally taught to hate, hide or even make fun of.  Also, let me talk about a dirty business perpetrated by certain officers from INPEC, the Colombian national institution in charge of penitentiary policy. In many prisons, INPEC has routinely failed to supply adequate menstrual products for the female prison population.

Being deprived of ways to deal with bleeding is outrageous, … More

Woman handing menstrual supplies to Colombian prisonersWoman handing menstrual supplies to Colombian prisoners

Negocio Sucio: Falta de Equidad Menstrual en las Cárceles Colombianas

By Guest Contributor |

By Charlie Ruth Castro

Read this post in English

Vamos a hablar de menstruación, el proceso más natural y necesario para la buena salud reproductiva entre las mujeres, pero aquel que culturalmente nos han enseñado a aborrecer, ocultar o incluso a hacerle burla. Y por otro lado voy a hablar de un negocio sucio perpetrado por ciertos funcionarios del INPEC -la institución nacional a cargo de la política penitenciaria- en muchas de las cárceles de Colombia: el desvío de presupuestos para el suministro de toallas higiénicas … More

text: The fight to take back our genestext: The fight to take back our genes

Congress Wants to Give Companies the Right to Own Our Genes

By Guest Contributor |

by Lori Andrews

Six years ago, on June 13, 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court in AMP v. Myriad took a great step forward for women’s health by unanimously ruling that human genes could not be patented. Now a bipartisan group of Senators and Representatives have released a bill that would allow companies to own our genes once again.

Article 1 of the U.S. Constitution provides that any patent system must “promote progress in science and the useful arts.” But patents on genes do not promote the … More

“Simone de Beauvoir alone would never have gotten me from intellect to action”

By Guest Contributor |

Note from OBOS co-founder Judy Norsigian: After publication of my reflections piece in the June 2019 issue of the American Journal of Public Health (AJPH), I received this wonderful email from Kay Johnson. Her story reminds us all once again of how ONE life experience (reading a book/having a terrific teacher or mentor/participating in an eye-opening social justice action/etc.) can change the course of our lives and bring us into partnership with others also committed to racial, economic and social justice for all.

I am … More

Refusing to Be Silenced: Federal Gag Rule an Active Threat to All Who Care about HIV

By Guest Contributor |

by Anna Forbes

On April 23, Judge Michael McShane of Federal District Court in Oregon issued a preliminary injunction against a federal “gag rule” written to forbid health care providers from even talking about abortion to patients who have questions about it.

The two parallel suits before him were filed by the American Medical Association, Planned Parenthood of America, and a coalition of over 20 states (along with numerous other plaintiffs) that oppose this gag rule.

Scheduled to go into effect on for May 3, the rule … More