Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Vaginal sex part 1: PSA: be prepared

Ok, here it is, The first of what is going to be at least 2 possibly more entries on plain old vaginal sex. Honestly, I've been dreading this entry for weeks. I couldn't figure out why until tonight. Everyone talks about vag sex. It's the default that everyone thinks of when someone says the word "sex." It's the end all and be all of every hetero-normative, male orgasm centric, completely crap health class I've ever had to sit through. One of my reasons for this blog even existing is to take the emphasis off of it and onto all the other fun things people can do together naked. I sort of hate what vaginal sex is for all of those reasons.

However, as much as I hate it, I LOVE sex. (and yes, even after that little rant, I'm going to just call it sex, since 1, I know everyone knows what I'm talking about and 2, I fucking hate the word vaginal) It is important, and honestly, if you're in a heterosexual relationship, and you've started having sex, you'll probably do it during almost all of your sexual encounters. There is a whole lot to say about it, and it is deserving of plenty of discussion and explanation.

Before we get started on the dos and don'ts, ins and outs of sex, there are a lot of things to discuss first. Sex is a big step. It changes everything. I'm not going to lecture you about "responsible decisions" and all that, you've had enough of that from everyone else. I'm not talking about relationships (though, depending on who you are, sex does change everything in a relationship for most people) I'm talking about everything else. I've talked before about calculated risk, the understanding that by not having completely safe sex you're putting yourself at risk. Sex takes you to a whole other level of risk.

First, if you're having heterosexual sex, and you're both fertile, this is the only sexual activity that leads to a whole lot of pregnancy risk. There are plenty of methods out there for protection. You know what they are. Personally, I hate condoms, so I tend to fluid bond to my boys quickly so I can use hormonal birth control. This doesn't work for everyone, but it's an arrangement that I find easiest.

I'm going to share two stories with you. But before I do, I need to explain that I'm not an emotional person. I rarely cry or get upset over things, so these two instances were very significant in my life. I'm not sharing them to be emo and angst-y. I'm just showing you what kind of an impact the consequences of sex can have.

I'm one of those girls who never does anything wrong, ever, not because I'm a goodie two shoes, but because I always get caught. I cut class once (yes ONCE!) in all of high school, and ended up in a two hour detention for a 30 minute class. I smoked pot once (again, yes, ONCE) in 23 years, and I had to take a drug test less then a week later.(which I did pass, though the week leading up to it put me off green tea forever) I just can never get away with anything.

But right after B and I broke up, I decided that it was my turn to have a little fun. I put a post on craigslist, looking for people who wanted to meet up and have sex. (Yes I know this can be dangerous, but I had my own screenings in place and I've lived to tell the tale, so we're going to move on) In a day I had well over 50 responses in my inbox. I sorted through, emailed some people, and found a few promising candidates. I arranged meet up times (yes in public places) within two weeks. I had sex with both men. One I never saw again, one I had sex with routinely for a few months and I now consider a friend.

However, I found a bump on my labia not that long after. I thought it was a clogged pore, so I poked at it with some tweezers for a while, nothing happened, so I left it and went to bed. I woke up the next morning and it was inflamed and red. It rubbed painfully on my underwear when I walked, and it hurt to sit. I was terrified. I'd had two sex partners in two weeks, new infections usually(not always) present symptoms within 2 weeks of exposure, and while I'd used protection with both partners, it's never completely fullproof. I called my OB/GYN and they amazingly told me to come right then and they would fit me in that morning. She took one look, and told me to calm down, I had (this is going to be completely phonetic) faliculitous, basically, and inflamed hair follicle. Just to be sure a got a complete screening. Everything was fine, but I deleted every potential new partner email in my inbox because I was too scared of the possibility of catching an STI.

I'm a hardcore feminist. I'm solidly pro choice. I'm also distinctly not ready to have a child. I always told myself, and anyone who talked about the subject that I would get an abortion if I realized that I was pregnant. It made the most sense. It was the "easiest" solution. It seemed like a given to me. Then, I had my pregnancy scare. Sure, I'd had months where I was a day or so later then I expected (and the complete terror when I first went on the pill and no one told me it takes a few days of sugar pills to get your period), but my periods were always really light, so not getting it until the last couple sugar pills was par for the course for me, and when it was time to start a new pack of pills, it had always come. A few months ago, right after my most recent ex, A, said he "couldn't be in a relationship right now, but I'm not dumping you", I realized that I was on my last couple days of sugar pills and not bleeding. I wasn't too worried, but days kept passing, and nothing was happening.

By the time I got up the nerve to buy a pregnancy test, I was three days into my active pills, so about 10 days late. My roommate had gone home, and A was no where to be found. He didn't know, I couldn't tell him because I was scared he'd think it was a ploy to get him back. My hands shook as I peed on a little white stick that would tell me how the rest of my life played out. And I waited. For the longest, loneliest, three minutes of my life, I waited. Suddenly I wasn't sure of anything. I couldn't have a kid, I wasn't ready. Would I be able to abort it? Should A know? Should he have a say? He's adopted, would he want me to have it and put it up for adoption? What would my family say? What would my coworkers think? I wrapped my hands around my stomach and I cried. (and let me tell you, dear readers, I never fucking cry)Suddenly everything that I'd always had decided, was completely uncertain. It turns out, the test was negative. Two weeks later (over three weeks late) I got my period and bled though a week of active and a week of inactive birth control pills. But I haven't had heterosexual sex, protected or not, since then. Honestly, I'm still in the process of rethinking my level of "calculated risk"

So yes, sex, does, in fact, change everything. The possibly of pregnancy or catching an STI is real. You can do things to minimize that risk, but nothing is 100% certain. If you want to take the plunge and have sex with your partner, consider the consequences so they don't sneak up on you. Keep track of your period, so you know when it should come. Pay attention. If you have a new bump or rash or discharge, don't ignore it. Even if it is nothing, you'd rather know then not.

I realize this post may have come off a little preachy. That's not my intent. I've obviously had plenty of sex with plenty of people, and I'm not saying that anyone shouldn't be having sex. I just know that for a long time I just thought if I were "safe" none of these things could happen to me. Yes, mine were just scares, and I thank whatever deity I decide I believe in that day for it everyday, but the idea that it could in fact happen to me wasn't something I was prepared for, even after almost 5 years of pretty constant sex. I'm just hoping to give you kiddies a better understanding then I had.

So that's it for today. This is cleofaye telling you to just pay attention to your body, be thoughtful in your decisions, and as always, when in doubt, just ask, and when you're unsatisfied, give direction!

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