Ten Years of 'Sex:' Health and the City

There were cocktails and club openings, long brunches and late-night meals where the women of Sex and the City dished over the intricacies and intimacies of their lives. While there was lots of comedy and fabulous raunch in those conversations, there were also many serious moments that captured our attention. Carrie, Miranda, Charlotte and Samantha were quite candid about their own health and awfully analytical about the health of the men the encountered. It wasn't always pretty and it was often pretty real. Here are five of the big health issues covered across all those tables in NYC:


1. Breast cancer sachayed into Sex and the City, not without seriousness but with a good dose of sass, in Season Six. It marked a big moment for the group of friends and for how TV was dealing with the disease.

The first time I saw Samantha sporting a giant platinum blond wig and the pink pop star wig during her breast cancer treatment, my heart swelled. I adore the character Samantha like I adore my stay-at-home mom friends -- I am not making the same choices as they are but I love the way they work it.

Samantha's brassiness, savviness and sexuality were not necessarily the way we are or were, but it doesn't mean we didn't love that Samantha was that way. So when she was the one who was diagnosed with breast cancer, I was moved so much more than I think I would have been had it been a part of any other character's journey.

I wanted to not only see how Samantha's fire was fueled by having breast cancer, but I also was compelled by her vulnerability and fears and need to have her support system around her during that time would show us a part of the character we rarely glimpsed. All we knew Samantha to be up until then certainly didn't fade away and for that, I was happy to see her tackle how her treatment impacted her sex life, her body image, her relationship with her boyfriend, how much she revealed to other people -- all the real stuff women with cancer face everyday in their own ways.

On the male side of diagnosis, Steve's struggle with testicular cancer and his resulting "uniball" was, at least to me, more about how we care for the men in our lives and what about their bodies is really that important to us and to them. Again, I loved that Miranda's determination steered Steve through his treatment but that her rarely-shown sweet side emerged in accepting him exactly where he was in that moment.

Off-screen: Another savvy woman who is telling truths about pushing back against cancer is Erin Zammett Ruddy. Read her story on Healthy Living's Life with Cancer.


2. Pregnancy, abortion and infertility were covered in one fell swoop as Miranda unexpectedly got pregnant, Carrie told Aidan she'd had an abortion in her early 20s and Charlotte learned her chances of conceiving were slim. Each of these moments were so intersected and real and they reminded me of many bittersweet, late-night conversations with my friends. Just when I would tire of Charlotte's obsession with having a baby or wanted more detail about Carrie's choice to terminate a pregnancy or felt uncomfortable with the tug Miranda at her changing identity into motherhood, I'd remember that this is how all these things feel in real life, with our real girlfriends. That push and pull of motherhood -- or just the possibility of motherhood -- is a central theme for many women and even in my irritation or discomfort, I couldn't get enough of it from Carrie and crew.

Other intimate moments included Charlotte and first-hubs Trey's marriage coming apart at the seams when he can't confront his impotency and their disagreements on pursuing fertility treatments, and the women's insistence that Samantha take her first HIV/AIDS test and start practicing safer sex.

Off-screen: Follow one woman's journey into and through conception challenges in Infertility Diaries.


3. Having a "lazy ovary" or STD certainly doesn't sound like the stuff of 22-minute . But when Miranda's doctor chides her about having an ovary that no longer produces eggs and Charlotte's attempt to pretend she is in her 20s with a younger man in the Hamptons leaves her with crabs, those things that could easily seem like traumas are actually quite funny. And you know what? That's good! We have enough to worry about with our bodies. I think it is pretty healthy to spend a half-hour giggling at how what the need to feel younger can reveal (and...eek, what an itchy predicament that can be).

Off-screen: Dr. Kate offers up the straight-forward responses to your questions about all things having to do with sexual health on The Daily Bedpost.


4. Mental health seems to be a recurring theme for the men who saunter, speed and sleep around on SATC. The cool cat jazz musician Carrie's enamored with for his artistic genius turns out to be a highly-distractable ADHD-sufferer who quickly loses interest in her. In other episodes, Carrie dates a recovering alcoholic who is living healthier but develops an obsession with her and a man she meets in her therapist's office (sigh, Jon Bon Jovi) who's issues are far more than she can handle in her own sessions. And then there's David Duchovny as Jeremy. Oh, dry-witted and adorable David Duchovny. He plays the high school beau she's reunited with, only to find out he's spending time in a mental health facility. What's the appeal of all these men with mental health concerns? They are all smoking hot. And there is something compelling in each of their characters (other than that need to save me! save me! save me! Carrie seems to cling to like her feather skirts). The question always seemed to come back to: Is loving a man mind over matter?

While there was a funny twist to the mental health issues in men, Miranda's pain and sympathy in caring for her mother-in-law during a challenging period of Alzheimer's was handled quite seriously and sensitively..

Off-screen: All these brain matters makes me want to retreat completely. How about some quick meditations to ease your own mind?


5. Smoking smoking SMOKING!
Carrie struggles to quit through the entirety of the show and sometimes the scenes of her writing at her laptop while lighting up seem to be what SATC's all about. While I wasn't a fan of the stick-thin character's nicotine ways, I did love the moments when the people in her life finally got honest about her cigarette addiction. Boyfriend Aidan will have none of it and her friends reveal they've just gone along with it for years even though they agree the habit bites. That said, if Carrie didn't step out on a balcony to smoke in nearly every episode, we never would have had the scene where a catering waiter friend reveals his thigh tattoo to her, leading to a scandal at a socialite's party and a big to-do with Mr. Big. Surely, they make patches in funky colors now?

And by the way, who scolds Mr. Big for loving the cigars?

Off-screen:
Here are 20 things to invest your time, your money and yourself in more wisely and healthfully than silly cancer sticks.


Weight loss, chicken pox and premature ejaculation, oh my! What other health issues can you remember that made their way into SATC scripts?



[all photos credit: HBO]