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Birth Control

This is going to contain way too much detail about a medical procedure. Fair warning.

Yesterday I went to have a copper IUD inserted. It’s overkill: my husband has had a vasectomy, and I use condoms when having PIV sex with other men. My gynecologist was more than a little confused by the request*. I’ve had condoms break in the past (twice, when I was eighteen), and have always been just a tiny bit paranoid about them ever since. I hate condoms for other reasons**, but that’s not going to stop me using them. The conditions that a partner would need to meet before I’d be willing to go barrier free with them are pretty thorough. It’s certainly not something I’m planning with anyone at the moment: the IUD is an emergency backup. Still, I’m hoping it will help quell the nervous part of my brain that can’t seem to shut up when I am relying on a bit of latex to prevent me from becoming host to a little parasitic person.

The procedure itself wasn’t too bad. I have a serious fear of medical situations, so I was nervous before I even got inside the office. Standing (okay, pacing) in a cold room half naked for forty minutes after my appointment was scheduled to occur didn’t exactly help. I’d been told to expect mild to moderate pain and instructed to take an over the counter painkiller before the procedure in order to minimize discomfort. I tend to scoff at what doctors call mild pain, but took some Aleve anyway because suppressing swelling is always advisable.

My gynecologist finally arrives and starts to talk through the procedure. She did the same thing a month ago, but it’s reassuring. Any reassurance is welcome; the cold and the smell of antiseptic solutions are pushing the edges of panic response. She offered again to write a prescription for painkillers.

“I have a pretty high pain tolerance.”

“Okay, if you change your mind, call me.”

She moves the unnecessary sheet (honestly, she’s about to force a metal cross through my cervix and we’re supposed to be worried about modesty?) and blinks a few times. Oh, right: there’s a constellation of thumbprint bruises on my inner thigh. “S&M” I explain. “All consensual. I did tell you, high pain tolerance.”

“Right,” she says. “Be careful.” Then there’s a cold speculum and the swabbing of antiseptic gel. I have to focus on not acting like a total wimp. I start calculating powers of three, checking in (and losing my place) every time the doctor starts to speak again. When she uses the phrase “cervical sound” I decide it’s time to breathe more consciously. This part sucks. It feels like the worst menstrual cramp I’ve ever had was given an amplifier. I have to swallow a few times to keep from cursing. The doctor seems frustrated too, giving instructions to her nurse in low tones. Apparently my cervix had no intention of dilating and had to be forced. It bloody hurt.

After a few moments of fumbling they seem to be ready. My doctor holds up the IUD, which looks rather small and innocuous really, explains how it stays in place and all that. I nod, because that’s more polite than saying “I fucking know all this just get it over with and get that horrible thing to stop prying me open already.” It’s quick. The sound is removed (I see blood. I am not menstruating. Awesome.) “Okay. Last thing, I just have to trim the string and then you’re done.”

Wait, what?

Remember how I’m trying not to act like a wuss? How a multiply-pierced and masochistic patient ought not to have a problem with a routine outpatient procedure?

Yeah. There were scissors inside my vagina. I shrieked like a little girl in a room full of spiders.

Then I went home. Or rather, went to pick up my husband and take him to lunch. The pain started about two minutes before I got to his building. Like cramps, but worse. Deep breathing, I can handle this. I kept repeating that for most of the afternoon, right up until I folded in half nauseated from pain while trying to unload the dishwasher. Lying down for a few minutes turned into curling up and shaking for the rest of the evening. I have hydrocodone in the house, because I refused to take more than a day’s worth after my wisdom tooth extraction last year. I told myself I wouldn’t take it unless the pain got bad enough to make me cry (it was close), but I caved after I dropped my water bottle twice from the shaking.

This morning, I was sore, and there was some blood, but not enough of either to prevent a light workout. Now everything feels pretty close to normal. So here’s hoping it’s worth it: a day of oh-dear-God-this-is-awful for ten years of not being afraid of getting pregnant.

*in fairness, she’s more than a little confused by non-monogamy and kink in general, and I have to applaud her for handling it all quite well, even if she goes a bit wide-eyed at times.

**The smell of latex makes me think of medical procedures, sterile rooms with too-cold air and fluorescent lights and the risk that someone is going to decide that an injection is necessary. None of these are things I kink on. My sense of smell is really quite good, so the instant a condom wrapper is opened, I go from growling feral fuck-me-now mode to awkward and nervous. I can get back into it, but the distraction is far from pleasant. Then there’s the sensation. Condoms don’t move the way skin does. It’s not bad, it isn’t as though the use of a condom makes sex not worth having, but again there’s the distraction of feeling latex instead. This is highlighted these days because I do not use condoms with my husband (he has had a vasectomy), so with other men there’s a moment of “yup, that’s latex, being too-slippery and feeling just a bit off.” There’s knowing that after sex, we’ll need to wash up before any oral contact unless we want to taste latex (ew).

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