Blackfishing the IUD

by Caren Beilin




Blackfishing the IUD is a daring and demanding, collaboratively-written memoir by author, Caren Beilin, about reproductive health and the IUD, gendered illness, medical gaslighting, and activism in the chronic illness community. Rhapsodic and unabashedly polemical, Beilin scrutinizes the literary, artistic, and medical history of Rheumatoid Arthritis, as she considers the copper IUD’s role in triggering her sudden onset of chronic autoimmunity. As the title makes abundantly clear, the book is an argument that the copper IUD is sickening quite a lot of women — and that we listen first and foremost to women’s testimony to begin to resolve it.


Blackfishing the IUD is a necessary and searing polemic. Deftly shifting between literary history and emerging scientific research, Caren Beilin defiantly insists on the truth of her own experience—and demands that medicine take the anecdotal reports of women like her seriously.

— Maya Dusenbery, author of Doing Harm: The Truth About How Bad Medicine and Lazy Science Leave Women Dismissed, Misdiagnosed, and Sick

As I read I thought of alchemy, Beilin is an alchemist. She transmutes metal, in this case copper, into something that flames and sings and questions and fights. It's a supranatural work that quests after healing but also finds and makes sense in its paradoxes.

— Johanna Hedva, author of On Hell

“Love does leave you open,” Caren Beilin proves in this heart-breaking, book-breaking work. Beilin opens her memoir of illness to the voices of others harmed by the IUD, a medical device that makes the writer’s daily living and thinking into a story of autoimmune disease. Beilin and others who know the risks of being heard and treated as women include us in their generous acts of rage, empathy, gratitude, and information. Reading and writing are witchwork, transforming the isolation of suffering into a tender and common ground. This book reminds us that our bodies are sites of language we can trust and love and offer in forms more radical than we know.  

— Hilary Plum, author of Watchfires

In Blackfishing the IUD, Caren Beilin takes on a crucial topic heretofore only broached in online forums—the serious, ongoing health problems associated with the copper IUD—and explodes her investigation into a creative work like no other: rich with wide-ranging references but also retaining the urgency and intimacy of raw, personal forum posts. Dissatisfied with the non-answers offered by medicine, Beilin seeks to understand the harm done by the IUD through philosophy, literature, and daily life. By writing the IUD through literature, philosophy, bookselling, and birdwatching, she identifies it as a problem that reaches far beyond “women’s health” into society at large.

— Amy Berkowitz, author of Tender Points


Caren Beilin is the author of the autofiction, SPAIN (Rescue Press, 2018), the novel, The University of Pennsylvania (Noemi Press, 2014) and a collection of short fictions, Americans, Guests, or Us (New Michigan Press, 2012). Her work appears in Fence, The Offing, and Territory. She teaches at the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts in the Berkshires.




In conjunction with the release of the book, Blackfishing the IUD, Wolfman Books is releasing a podcast to more broadly explore and shine a light on women’s experiences around reproductive healthcare and the medical industry. Hosted by author, Caren Beilin, and produced by audio producer, writer, and film photographer, Claire Mullen (Reveal, Radio Ambulante, 99% Invisible), Blackfishing the IUD will feature intimate conversations with authors, activists and patients who have been deeply affected by the IUD or by gendered medical gaslighting in general.

Including conversations with…


Claire Color Square (1).jpg

Claire Mullen is a writer, audio producer, and film photographer based in Mexico City. She worked previously for Radio Ambulante and Reveal at the Center for Investigative Reporting, and has produced stories for 99% Invisible, KALW, and KQED. A current National Book Critics Circle Fellow 2019-2020, recent writing can be found in The Believer, Public Writing, and Lithub.

The rest of out production team includes: Symantha Kehr, Madeline McConnel, Brianna McNamara, Alison O’Keefe, Gerol Petruzella, Emily Sienkiewicz, and Hannah Snell. Our theme song is “Abuse of Time” by VVD WNDWS and Matt Carney has provided instrumentals. A special thanks to all of our podcast participants and everyone who called and left a message sharing your stories.