morning after bully

I’m going to write about something that I’ve heard from multiple women. And it’s somewhat disturbing.

The scenario:  A pair, a twosome, who are not really a couple, gets hot and heavy, no immediate protection is immediately available, they take some calculated risks and enjoy themselves…aaand, the next day, the guy freaks out.

Him:  “I’d like to talk about something.”

Her:  “Okay.”

Him:  “We’re not in a relationship.”

Her:  “Right. I’m aware.”

Him:  “We had unprotected sex last night.”

Her:  “Yes, we did.”

Him:  “I’m concerned about the risk of pregnancy.”

Her:  “I’m not.”

Him:  “You’re not?”

Her:  “No. You didn’t ejaculate inside me, and I’m not in a particularly fertile part of my cycle. It’s not like this is the first time…”

Him:  “I know, but we’re not in a relationship now, and that would make it worse if you got pregnant.”

Her:  “Yes, and we’re not going to be.”

Him:  “But you don’t know that… So maybe it would be better if you took a Plan B. You know, the morning after pill.”

Her:  “Yes, I know about the morning after pill. I know my body. I’m not concerned about pregnancy. And I’m not willing to make myself sick and give myself horrific cramps for a day or two or three because you’re freaking out about a choice we made last night.”

Him:  “I’m trying to share my feelings. Does that matter?”

Her:  “I am taking your feelings into consideration, and it’s ultimately my decision.”

Him:  “What if I went to the pharmacy and picked it up and brought it to you?”

Her:  “No, thank you.”

Him:  “You know, the other options are much worse than a day of not feeling well. Think of how that might affect yourself or me emotionally… It would be worth it to be 100 percent sure…”

Her:  “I’ve known precisely one person who’s taken the morning after pill, and it didn’t work; 40 weeks later, she gave birth to her daughter. So it’s not 100 percent certain.”

This might go on — via text, phone or both — for hours. It might go so far that she feels bullied. And, from what I’ve heard from girlfriends, it’s entirely too common.

Think about that:  Even now, some guys think they have a voice in telling a woman what to do with her body. Even if they try to be reasonable, try to be persuasive, try to lovingly suggest, there’s no getting around what it is:  bullying a woman to take the responsibility for something both would have, ideally, been responsible enough to talk about before things go out of hand. Often, these guys aren’t normally such douchebags; they simply don’t get what they’re asking / demanding. It’s a big deal!

No woman should feel pressured to do something with her body that she doesn’t want to do.

This scenario is a great reminder that women still face the consequences of unprotected sex:  our anatomy makes us more susceptible to contracting certain types of STDs than men and we risk pregnancy and the choices associated with it (abortion, single parenting, etc.). As long as men have penises and women have vaginas, this is the way it’s going to be; it’s simply biology.

But there are things we can do to take care of ourselves, and I ask all of my sisterhood to join in and engage in emotional, as well as physical, protection:  Keep condoms on hand and require their use. Or find lovers (if you’re of that age) who have had a vasectomy. Make sure they are compassionate, loving souls, who trust you to know your body. And know your biology with confidence.

I’m clean

Not long ago, I wrote about getting tested for STDs.

I met with a nurse at my clinic, asked a few questions about the screening, undressed from the waist down and draped myself in paper. Here’s what I learned:

  • I would be screened for Chlamydia and Gonorrhea using a cervical culture, and for Syphilis and HIV via blood draw.
  • I would not be screened for HPV, the Human Papilloma Virus, or HSV, the Herpes virus. A blood test to screen for antibodies would not be particularly helpful, since many people have been exposed to these viruses and might have the antibodies indicating a healthy immune response. Unless I’d had an abnormal Pap test or was experiencing symptoms (I was not — and have not ever), it would be difficult to tell if I actually had either disease.
  • My beau, who’d had a bout with HPV awhile back, was not likely to be infectious. According to the CDC, “In 90% of cases, the body’s immune system clears HPV naturally within two years.” The nurse confirmed that we likely did not need to worry.

I was reassured after the chat with the nurse, and eager to share what I’d learned with my guy. I’d have to wait five to ten business days for results.

Last week, I received the all clear from my clinic. And I’ll leave what happened next to your imagination!

getting tested

Woo hoo! It seems I’ve made it past the interview stage, into not only hand-holding and smooching, but also into the stage of frank and mature discussions about health…that is, sexual histories, STDs and how to enjoy these blessed bodies in a way that’s respectful and safe.

My beau brought up the discussion under the guise of talking about dating. I thought we might talk about dating philosophy or have that discussion that two people who’ve met online frequently have about continuing to see and or meet other people. (Which, by the way, is fine with me…because I’d rather a fella meet a lot of people and feel absolutely certain that I’m the one for him.) Instead, he brought up sexual history, number of partners (for the record, I stopped counting more than a decade ago) and STDs.

For a moment, some of these questions seemed rather blunt…that is, until he followed up with, “I’ve had one.”

It turns out he was once exposed to HPV, the virus which, depending on the strain, can cause either genital warts or cervical cancer. Neither of which sounds all that appealing to me. Nor does this virus, which is carried and passed along by so many that middle school children are routinely offered a vaccination to prevent it, seem like a daunting hurdle to a healthy sex life. After all, I would expect that a man wear condoms anyway — at least in the initial stages of a relationship, before longer-term solutions are considered.

Still, there are many questions:

  • Does the risk go away? Is this something that, because he got it, he still has? Or might his immune system have rid his body of it?
  • Have I ever been exposed (I mean previously, by someone else)? Is it possible to have had and built up my own immunity?
  • How is it contracted? Might touch or saliva expose one to risk and how much?
  • What, if anything, might I have been exposed to or be carrying around with me?
  • What else don’t I know? What other questions should I be asking?

For the record, I’ve never had reason to suspect that anything was awry down there. I feel and, by all appearances, am healthy. My most recent relationship was long-term and monogamous…as far as I know. My annual exams have always produced “normal” results. And, since, I’ve had only a few partners and with whom I’d say I’ve had “safe” sex.

But I’ve heard stories, too.

The safest, smartest and most respectful decision I can make for both myself and my partner is to get tested, learn the facts and educate myself as much as possible about all the risks and issues of being sexually active. And that’s why I’ve scheduled an appointment at my OB / GYN’s office for this week. Cross fingers there are no surprises.