No Shave November: This “Hairy Feminist” is Raising Cancer Awareness

No Shave November is right around the corner!

I’d like to use this time to raise cancer awareness by sharing my own experience as an (unofficial) NSN participant last year. My hope is that this might inspire others to participate in their own awareness & fundraising efforts, practice self checks, and/or donate money to NSN, other preferred cancer research organizations, or specific individuals/families fighting cancer.

I am not in the habit of asking for money on this blog, but if you would like to donate to the brave individual who inspired this post, please do so here. As a single mother, the financial strain of healthcare and uncertainty is not easy and every little bit helps in her battle against breast cancer.

Let’s kick cancer’s ass! 


Why write about cancer on a SEX blog?!

A couple of years ago, one of my best friend’s older sisters found out that she has an aggressive form of breast cancer. She has recently finished chemo and is currently in recovery from a double mastectomy & lymph node removal, followed by a couple of surgeries to combat infection. The next step is radiation. Marci is literally coming at this with everything she has… and yet, she still has a moderate chance of the cancer returning within 3 years.

Many of my teenage memories are wrapped up with this friend and his family. In some ways, his older sister became a motherly figure to me, just like she was to him. To this day, she still has a habit of checking in with me simply because she “has a feeling” that I might be struggling — and strangely enough, she is often right.

But suddenly, when Marci was diagnosed, she became the one who was struggling…and I felt powerless to help. After making a donation to her crowd-funding campaign, I did the only other thing that sprang to my mind: I decided to participate in No Shave November. My idea was that I would raise awareness (and hopefully some money) by writing about the experience on my blog — where I conveniently discuss gender & body image on the regular. Of course, I didn’t expect it to be the following year before I found the time to write again.

According to the National Breast Cancer Foundation, 1 in 8 women in the U.S. will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime. That amounts to nearly 247,000 women every year — as well as approximately 2,600 men. (Cis-normative stats because that’s what’s available, of course.)

In the past, No Shave November has been seen as being a bit of a “boy’s club” due to the social stigma surrounding hair & femininity. Let me be the first to say: Fuck that noiseThe very concept of stigmatizing someone based on their adherence (or refusal to adhere) to gender norms is ridiculous. However, I also understand that it is still very much the reality that we live in. And as someone who identifies as non-binary but is constantly assumed female, I believe that it is precisely because of this stigma that I have power within this campaign. By swearing off the razor, I can leverage my own femaleness to attract attention and start important conversations about cancer.

If I can… You can too.

I’ve spent a long time hating my body hair.

I started shaving my legs in the 5th grade. I was a cheerleader at my elementary school and I remember feeling incredibly embarrassed when I realized that the other girls didn’t have hair like I did. For most of them, shaving simply was not a reality in their lives yet, just like sports bras & menstrual pads. You could say that I was an “early bloomer.”

By middle school, I had become increasingly self-conscious about my pale skin & dark hair. My arms reminded me of a man’s and I felt powerless to change or to hide them. I panicked over the slight hint of a happy trail under my belly button and obsessively plucked it away along with many other stray hairs across my body. I became increasingly paranoid about visible stubble and started shaving my armpits every single morning — even if that meant buying special moisturizing deodorant to combat the constant skin irritation.

In 7th grade, I got my first serious boyfriend. He was 2 years older than me and I thought that I was the luckiest girl in the world. We would make-out on my parents’ couch for hours, and one afternoon, I looked down to see that a pubic hair had found its way onto the bottom of my shirt. I was mortified. He didn’t say anything (at the time), but I still remember how I ached to return my body to the little girl aesthetic that I had just outgrown. I started shaving my pubic area almost immediately thereafter.

As an adult, I’ve wasted hundreds of hours abiding by the same hair removal rituals that I started as a young teenager. It has only been with my current partner that I felt secure enough (beautiful enough/accepted enough/loved enough) to cut myself a little slack. Over the course of 6 years, I slowly made the transition to keeping my pubic area trimmed but rarely completely shaven. I started to allow stubble on my legs during the winter months, when the prying eyes of strangers would never see. And I routinely shaved my armpits every other day in the shower — but no more.

Becoming active in feminist, queer, & sex-positive communities over the last few years has introduced me to many female-identifying/presenting individuals who are open about their decision NOT to shave. It doesn’t surprise me like it would have in my teen years, but part of me always wondered… “Could I ever do that? Am I so confident & brave?”

As I started exploring my gender identity, the questions in my mind only became louder. I wondered what role body hair played in my overall gender expression. Would my hang-ups prevent me from appearing masculine someday if that was what I desired? Or would I find that I am miraculously more comfortable in my skin once I finally embraced my human fur? Either way, my anxiety monster popped up to say “hello!”

An Exercise in Sitting with Discomfort

Being anxious about letting my body hair grow rampant may sound trivial & silly (especially compared to the larger topic at hand: cancer). But we are all human, and humans are weird, and I suspect that I am not alone in this.

My month started with a weird detachment & discomfort with the appearance of my own body and an increased need to hide under layers of clothes. I also found myself battling a purely habitual urge to shave. At first, I figured that I would fail simply from a prolonged moment of distraction during my normal shower routine.

No Shave November gender fuckeryAs my hair continued to grow well beyond the point of stubble & further into uncharted territory, I questioned my own negative feelings and their relation to my budding non-binary gender identity. Did my hatred of more “masculine” body hair invalidate me in some way? Could I appear generally feminine and still be accepted & viewed as “non-binary enough?” Or would I be instantly flagged as someone who simply wants attention or to be different?

And then there was the whole love issue. What would this do to my relationship if I did grow to enjoy a more masculine gender expression? My partner (though otherwise quite supportive of my journey) had already shared a mild distaste for my new fuzz. And in response, I instinctively pulled back sexually, afraid of rejection & disgust. The fear voice amplified throughout my mind, harshly begging the question: “He is straight. Is there still space for you if you are no longer strictly a woman?Gender & sexuality are messy, folks. 

Yet as more time passed, my strange sense of detachment eventually morphed into not giving a damn. I still looked forward to the day when I would be able to shave again, but in the meantime, I learned to accept the naturalness of my body. And as it turns out… I didn’t run straight for the razor on December 1st; I waited patiently until a day when I had enough spare time to dedicate to the taming of my underarms, legs, and pubic area. To my surprise, hair had actually become meaningless.

Finding Permission & Continuing the Fight

For the most part, how I have chosen to groom my body hair over the last year has not really changed that much. I may allow a few more days to pass after I start noticing stubble, or I might decide to wear yoga leggings to the gym even if my calves aren’t completely smooth. …But then there are some days (like today), when I realize that I can’t even remember the last time that I shaved my pubes. The difference is that I simply don’t care most of the time.

If I don’t shave, it only means that I get to laugh it off & embrace the dreaded “hairy feminist” stereotype. And if I do shave, it doesn’t detract from my identity as a non-binary individual or from my androgynous appearance. All of that is ME.

No Shave November most definitely provided me with an unexpected opportunity for growth & self reflection; an experience that is very fitting for a blog that deals with gender & sexuality. However, that is obviously not the importance behind this campaign – and it has nothing to do with why I will be participating again this year. Rather, I will use this as a starting point, a platform, a way to attract attention to the larger issue.

This November, I will be donating once again to Marci. I will be even more vocal in my personal life & on social media about participating in this campaign. I will try to overcome the last residual days of body image anxiety and wear clothes that make my body hair more visible — especially towards the end of the month.

And I am asking others to join me.  


Whether or not you are able to donate or participate, please do me a favor: Learn how to do breast self-exams and perform them monthly. Educate yourself – even if you don’t have breasts, but your current (or future) partners might. It is not uncommon for a romantic or sexual partner to be the one who discovers a lump or change in breast tissue. We should all be in this together. <3

L’amourose Rosa Rouge Review

description text

L'amourose Rosa RougeThe L’amourose Rosa Rouge is a beautiful & modestly-sized G-spot vibrator known for its powerful rumbly vibrations. It has a gently curving shaft, a distinct edge on the bottom of its tapered head, and a relatively large oval base which serves as both a handle & a vibrating dual-stimulation option (if your anatomy lines up). But what makes this toy truly unique is that it heats up — on purpose! 

The Rosa Rouge has simple 3-button controls. The + and – buttons increase and decrease the vibration intensity along 12 different speeds, in addition to turning the toy on and off. These 2 buttons can also be used to lock the vibrator when pressed & held simultaneously. The middle button (a sort of yin-yang shape) controls both the heating function and the vibration patterns. With one prolonged press of the yin-yang symbol, the head of the Rosa Rouge will begin heating up to a level that is comfortably above body temperature (104-107 degrees Fahrenheit). If this button is pressed again, the toy will start cycling through its 9 vibration patterns: combinations of waves & pulses that often alternate between the two motors in the head & the base.

The toy measures 6″ in total length (approximately 4″ insertable) and 1.5″ in diameter at it’s widest point. Although the body of the toy is incredibly firm to the touch, the shaft does employ what L’amourose calls their “Flex & Shift” technology; simply meaning that the shaft will give a little in order to accommodate your body. It’s important to note that although this is often thought of as a vaginal vibrator, the base (1.75″ wide x 3″ long) makes it safe for anal play as well.

Like most high-quality toys, the Rosa Rouge is nonporous & body-safe, waterproof, and rechargeable. The majority of the toy is covered in a velvety smooth, matte silicone that doesn’t attract much dust/hair and creates very little drag. The bottom of the base and the charging dock are made from hard ABS plastic molded to look like a faceted gemstone. L’amourose reports that each 2-hour charge will give you up to 70 minutes of maximum speed/heated playtime, with an impressive 60-100 day standby when kept in storage. It is available in only one color: red (or rouge, obviously). However, if the heating ability doesn’t appeal to you, the regular Rosa is available in emerald (a beautiful teal color), cerise (hot pink), or black.

L’amourose prides themselves on being luxurious and the Rosa Rouge certainly arrives in style. Packaged within a ribbon-wrapped cardboard gift box, you’ll also receive a velvet storage/travel bag, magnetic charging dock & USB charging cord (complete with DC adaptor), water-based lube sample, user manual, and authenticity card (which will come in handy if you need to use the 18-month warranty or lifetime quality guarantee). Unwrapping this toy reminded me of buying my first Lelo product — except this time, I was actually impressed with the vibrations.

Unfortunately, that positive first impression didn’t last very long.


The Rosa Malfunction & Ensuing Communication Collapse


Rosa Rouge packaging

December 23rd 2014: I was contacted by L’amourose about reviewing some of their products. Although I eagerly responded the following day, I never received a confirmation or an update about shipping. After a couple of months, I simply assumed that they had changed their mind.

March 3rd 2015: I received an unexpected package from an unknown sender; L’amourose had graciously sent me not only the Rose Rouge, but the Paramour set as well!

After [im]patiently waiting for my new toys to charge, I started cycling through the different patterns… and the entire unit suddenly shut off. It wouldn’t turn back on. I poked at the buttons for a while, heartbroken & wondering what had happened. As a last resort, I put it back on the charging dock. The Rosa lit up again and I was able to power it on. But the toy suffered the same malfunction approximately half of the times that I tried to cycle through the patterns. I never knew when it would die on me and so it was essentially unusable.

Over the next couple of days, I corresponded with my contact at L’amourose to let them know about the faulty product and send them the specific serial number.

March 25th and April 24th: I sent follow-up e-mails. Silence.

April 29th: I decided to send an e-mail to Customer Care. My original contact was apparently no longer with the company (or at least in a “different role”), but I was promised a replacement product and put into contact with another employee.

June 15th: I was asked to confirm my address and was told I would be sent a shipping date.

October 10th and December 7th: More follow-up e-mails. More silence.

December 22nd 2015: A full year after my initial contact with the company, almost 10 months from receiving my defective Rosa Rouge, and more than 6 months since I had even heard from them… I received another mystery package containing the Rosa Rouge, the Prism VII, and a rather lovely hand-written note. Another gracious gift & a wonderful touch, that’s for sure — but to be honest, I had completely given up on them by this point.


Worth the wait?


Rosa Rouge doubleThe Rosa Rouge definitely has some hella powerful, rumbly AF vibrations. The only toy that I can even think to compare it to would be the We-Vibe Rave. When closely feeling for a difference, the Rave seems just a smidge more powerful to me. (Probably why I have a slightly easier time reaching clitoral orgasms with it.) But I would argue that the Rosa might actually have deeper and more thuddy/rumbly vibrations. Either way, both toys give me that ‘open-eyed, gasping in surprise’ reaction the moment they come into contact with my G-spot.

That’s another thing that I love about the Rosa Rouge; it is a master of finding & caressing my G-spot. The curve is perfect for my anatomy and the gentle ridge at the base of the head absolutely drives me wild as it drags across the front wall of my vagina. At first, I was concerned about the “Flex & Shift” technology. Pressure is usually what I need when aiming for a strong blended orgasm. (Hence my love for both the We-Vibe Rave & the Jopen Comet II.) But the Rosa Rouge surprised me.

The ever-so-slight give in the structure of this vibrator allows me to thrust it without pain or fear of getting the head hooked behind my pubic bone. Unlike most G-spot products, where the intense curve necessitates that I keep the toy stationary & squash my G-spot into submission, I can actually use the Rosa like a partner’s curved fingers.

And the patterns! Normally, vibration patterns do nothing for me; my vagina has a type and that type is ‘strong & consistent.’ But the Rosa’s vibrations are so powerful that when using a pulsing pattern, it gives me nearly the same sensation as if I were manually thrusting the toy. Instead of repeatedly moving the head towards & away from my G-spot, the vibrations simply start and stop. And with the pulse, I don’t risk losing rhythm when I’m about to orgasm. The Rosa Rouge just keeps humming along.

To be honest, there’s nothing about the Rosa Rouge that I absolutely hate; there’s just a few small aspects of the toy that do not work for me as an individual. And although I believe that these issues are easily overshadowed by the pure power of this crimson beast, they could easily create larger disappointments for others.

For example: The “dual stimulation” idea (with one motor in the base of the toy) doesn’t work for my body, because it simply cannot reach my clit. The base is also not the most comfortable handle; I can live with it, but I sometimes end my masturbation session with a case of  “the claw.” And the heating function? It’s okay for external vibrations (the only way I can really feel it), but I wouldn’t pay extra for this feature if I were buying the toy myself.

L'amourose Rosa RougeThe L’amourose Rosa Rouge is a high quality (and truly luxurious) sex toy with more oomph than most every other rechargeable vibrator on the market. However, this is one instance where you will most certainly pay for it. At $199-$249 ($159-$189 for the plain non-heating Rosa), this is officially one of the most expensive toys in my collection. It’s not exactly a price point that is within the average person’s budget… and that makes it hard for me to enthusiastically recommend this product to my readers. Especially when I believe that there are non-heating – but equally impressive – options that will save you a little cash!

I also can’t forget how long it took for L’amourose to get a replacement mailed out to me and how difficult that process was. I’d like to say that I have more faith in their ability to please paying customers, but on the other hand, bloggers have the unique power to tear down a company with bad publicity. I am simply not confident enough to promise that their warranty process would be easy were you to also receive a faulty toy.

If that risk is too big for you, or if you simply can’t justify/afford the cost of the Rosa Rouge, I do have other suggestions: The aforementioned We-Vibe Rave costs approximately $120 and the L’amourose Prism V sells for as low as $99. (I mention the Prism line because I will soon be reviewing the Prism VII and it also has some majorly swoon-worthy vibrations.)

And of course… If you’d simply like to feel better about purchasing any of these, remember that the Lelo Mona 2 has now increased in price to a ridiculous $170 and those vibrations are not even in the same universe.

Pros: nonporous & body-safe silicone with ABS plastic base, rechargeable, waterproof, heating function, curved specifically for G-spot stimulation, super powerful & rumbly vibrations, multiple intensities & patterns, easy controls, relatively quiet, very approachable size, anal safe

Cons: expensive, may be difficult/uncomfortable for some individuals to hold, relatively short battery life (70 minutes on high), L’amourose can be difficult to contact if there are problems


L'amourose

Special thanks to L’amourose for sending me this product (twice!) in exchange for an honest & unbiased review. If you would like to purchase this toy, please consider buying through one of my affiliates: SheVibe or Peepshow Toys

2016: The Recap Post That Almost Wasn’t

I didn’t anticipate that I would allow a quarter of the year to pass before I wrote this post… yet here we are. The draft that I started months ago has waited patiently (untouched) until I finally gave in & requested vacation time specifically for this purpose. One week to focus on my side-hustle: to update this site,  catch up on reviews, write my ever-evolving truths, and to immerse myself back into the life of a sex blogger. 

Thank you for your patience & your love. xox


It’s no secret that 2016 was rough — not just on a deeply personal level for many of us, but in a large-scale & heart-wrenching “the world is collapsing” sort of way as well.

In the midst of our ongoing struggle, I want to take a moment to focus on the small accomplishments here at EROcentric. I want to remind myself that the last year also held happiness & success and that those things are still possible in our fight for the future.

2016

Woodhull 2016I attended my second Woodhull Sexual Freedom Summit and relished in another weekend spent among the life-affirming #BlogSquad. I went on my second #SexBloggerVaca to explore the sex-positive wonders of Chicago — which I still intend to write about. I formed a long-overdue professional relationship with the amazing folks at Smitten Kitten. And with the help of my loyal readers, I was ranked at #98 in Kinkly’s Sex Blogging Superheroes list. (My excitement about the list may have taken a bit of a dive this year, but I do want to give a huge thanks to everyone who voted!)

If that wasn’t enough, my personal life was absolutely bursting at the seams with exciting changes. I attended my first kink event… which was more focused on performance art, but still totally counts! I started a small Gender & Sexuality Book/Film Club with a handful of my friends. I unexpectedly became a leader in my local Sex Geekdom chapter. I finally got my “tubes tied” & stopped taking hormonal birth control, which miraculously solved all of my libido troubles and helped dismantle my depression. For the first time in my life, I even felt secure enough to deeply question my gender identity & sexual orientation.

And perhaps most amazing of all… I got an actual job within the elusive field of sex education! My new place of work challenges me to become a better person & a stronger advocate on a daily basis and I could not ask for a more wonderful group of individuals to call my “teamily.” It truly has become my home away from home.

Unfortunately, with all of these changes & obligations, it was difficult to remain active in the blogosphere. I ended the year with only 19 published blog posts (compared to 2015’s impressive total of 61).

The most popular EROcentric posts during 2016 were…

  • 2016 Best PostsMy review for the Traz Rhino Sleek & Genesis penis extenders/masturbation sleeves: For the second year running, this post consistently receives more views, comments, and e-mail inquiries than anything else on my site. I must admit that I am torn. I wonder if the popularity is due to good, sexy fun with size play… or if it’s rooted in the more sinister insecurities created by our society’s obsession with penis size. Perhaps this is an instance where two things can be true.
  • My educational piece about sensation play: It’s probably no secret that sensation play is one of my absolute favorite activities, but to be honest… I never expected that it would be a topic that so many people crave information on. Now (also after 2 years running), I’m left wondering if I should delve deeper than the basic 101 introduction and just what that would entail.
  • My review of the Womanizer W100: An innovative little toy that uses pulses of air to create a suction-like sensation, this product (and those like it) continue to take the sex blogging community by storm. I’m excited to write my review of the Womanizer Pro W500 and see how it compares!

Although I didn’t review a ton of toys this year, my opinions seemed much stronger than usual and varied widely.

My favorite toys included…

  • The Lovehoney Desire Wand2016 Best Toys: A small rechargeable wand that doesn’t provide quite as much power as my beloved Hitachi — but is certainly nothing to scoff at either.
  • The We-Vibe Rave: Although I was not a fan of the asymmetrical shape (with a surprisingly sharp edge), the strong rumbly vibrations & super-firm structure really sweet-talked my G-spot.
  • The Womanizer W100: I have mixed feelings about this toy, because the air on my clitoris can so quickly switch from incredibly pleasurable to overwhelmingly painful — ruining orgasms like nobody’s business. But its uniqueness is something that I keep reaching for time & time again. And as a sex toy reviewer, that is a fact worth noting.

My least favorite toys were definitely…

  • 2016 Worst Toys The PicoBong Kiki 2 and the Jopen Key Aries: Both of these were simply abysmal in terms of vibration strength, reinforcing my fear that there is not a solid battery-powered clitoral vibe in existance.

2017

My biggest goal is to simply blog more.

2017 Upcoming ReviewsI currently have a whopping 11 products in my review queue: the L’amourose Rosa Rouge & Prism VII, Tantus Adam & Flurry, Femicorp She*Pak, Womanizer Pro W500, Fun Factory Lady Bi, Crescendo, Nalone Electro Wand, Candy Smart Kegel Ball, and FunToys gPlug. I have not been (and will not be) accepting new products until I can play catch-up.

I also hope to continue writing some non-review posts, which had accidentally become my focus during the latter half of 2016 — along with some slight website redesigns that are an ongoing project of mine. I may even share some infographics & zines that I’ve been working on.

As far as my personal goals go… I’d like to get more involved with my local queer & kink communities — as well as some social justice activist groups. I’m excitedly planning my trip to Woodhull for the 3rd year in a row. And I’m also trying to decide if I’d rather get AASECT certified instead of going to grad school.

It’s a relatively small list this year, but I’m trying to remember that free-time & self-care can be good things; that I don’t have to drown under the weight of my own impossibly high standards and that saying “no” (even to myself) is okay.

For me, 2017 seems to be taking shape as the year of much-needed growth & repair — and I welcome it. 

The 2016 Election (With One Foot in the Closet)

My gender & sexuality are matters that I have been largely quiet about lately, despite the fact that they have been at the forefront of my mind. The perfectionist in me wanted to be sure that I knew what to say — that I knew my own identity before I shared it with others. But I’m starting to believe that perhaps “the right words” will not come unless I practice… unless I open myself up and make myself vulnerable. And if the last 3 years of blogging have taught me anything, it’s that growing through my fear & vulnerability is one of the unexpected beauties of EROcentric.


mostly straight, mostly cis?

I used to say that I was “mostly straight and mostly cis.” I staked my claim as a 1 on the Kinsey scale, despite the fact that the beautiful individuals who caught my attention were more often women. And when I discovered & intensely connected with the term “demigirl,” my gender on Facebook remained quietly female. I have never felt queer enough, and I feared taking those labels without any quantifiable evidence to back me up.

My experience is extremely limited. I’ve only been in two (monogamous) relationships for the entirety of my adult life. And they’ve both been with cisgender, heterosexual men.

It was easy to push all my middle & high school crushes to the back of my mind when they never amounted to anything. When the religious & societal shame prevented me from ever acting on them. When the girl I painted a picture for never appeared to be interested in me. And it was equally easy to simply say that I was a “tomboy” when that term has been used to describe me for my entire life.

But at damn near 30-years-old, I was suddenly given the (terrifying) freedom to explore those parts of myself that I thought were long buried. My environment & my support system changed. I got tossed into the local LGBTQ+ community head first — and I’ve spent the last 5 months trying to pull myself together and learn how to walk within it.

I have been blessed to find myself among individuals who understand that identity & behavior are not one and the same. That gender & sexuality are fluid, and sometimes they change day-to-day. That humans are complex and even the ever-growing list of labels we have are just a starting point; they never quite seem to account for everyone.

This is the first time that I have felt a true sense of community… and yet I have also felt like an outsider/an imposter. On November 8th, my dichotomous status was no longer just an inner struggle. It had exploded into every aspect of my experience and I found myself interacting with a world of chaos through the lens of privilege, shame, anger, fear, confusion, pain & (gloriously) pride.

Inside, I am feeling all of the fear, anger, and pain that comes from identifying with a group that is targeted under this revival of hatred & violence. I feel pride in identifying with a community that has a history of resiliency and action. But as a privileged individual who passes as both heterosexual & cisgender (not to mention: white), I do not feel valid in claiming those emotions.

I find myself analyzing the entire concept of “coming out” on a near daily basis. Is it a necessary rite of passage? What is the “correct” way to have these conversations — and how does that differ within the context of family vs. friend? How long before I feel forced to speak my truth? …Which relationships will I lose?

I am like a child, taking tiny hesitant steps & testing the waters of acceptance. I share queer memes on social media, I write about my experience on this blog, I nonchalantly toss hints into conversation — and I wait to see if anyone will ask for clarification.

The majority of people in my life will probably not be surprised. I get the distinct impression that they have suspected this for years — perhaps they even understood it long before I did. But then my mother assumes that the only reason I am afraid is because my work paints an obvious target on my back, and my otherwise non-religious father disdainfully comments on “what the Bible says about gays,” and I am buried alive by the weight of my secrets.

How do I navigate this journey? 

In the days following the election, I sobbed in the arms of my partner. I cut ties with the majority of my family who (perhaps unknowingly) expressed that my life does not matter to them. I sat with my supervisor and tried to absorb some of his pain and frustration at not being seen as human. I marched in protest through the streets of my city. I experienced grief at a magnitude that I can only compare to the loss of my maternal grandmother 9 years ago. And amazingly, I felt myself evolving.


polysexual, panromantic, demigirl

In the most basic of terms: I currently identify as a poly(or perhaps pan)sexual demigirl with she/they pronouns.


Polysexual – On the surface, I tend to be more sexually attracted to individuals who express their gender with at least a modicum of (healthy & secure) masculinity, regardless of their biological sex or gender identity. However, as both a panromantic individual & someone who very closely ties sex with love, I highly suspect that this preference would fall away with the addition of an emotional connection.

Demigirl – I experience only the barest association with being “female,” and am mostly confused by the entire concept of gender as it relates to my personality & body. In my gender expression, I am currently finding comfort in a greater level of androgyny.

She/They – If you say “she,” it will not cause me pain or gender dysphoria (most of the time). But “they” holds the power to convey that you accept, embrace, & support me for who I truly am.

If you’re a visual learner & would like to view my “genderbread person,” click here.

After My Tubal Ligation: Recovery & Insurance

If you’re curious about my actual tubal ligation surgery, you can find a full breakdown of my hospital experience here. This post will pick up from the moment I returned home.

Day 1

day1As expected, the actual day of surgery was a bit rough. It was extremely difficult for me to stand up or sit down by myself without a lot of pain & bit of blood, so I mostly just lazed around the apartment and watched Netflix. I had been prescribed anti-nausea & pain medication but I didn’t really feel like I needed either. My newly purchased heating pad, on the other hand, was a necessity.

More than anything, I was bloated & experiencing a lot of chest pain from the gas that they pumped into my abdomen during surgery. Although I was familiar with the pain because it mimicked my brand of anxiety attack, it also eventually tricked my body into full-blown panic. By the early evening, I started to cry and hyperventilate until Andrew (my partner) managed to calm me back down. I ate a little bit (even though my appetite was practically nonexistent) and took an Advil to help control the pain until bedtime.

In hopes of getting a full night’s rest, I had forced myself to stay awake all day. I asked Andrew to build me a nest in our recliner around midnight: heating pad, blankets, enough pillows so I wouldn’t roll onto my incisions, and all of my medicine/TV remotes/books within arm’s reach. I finally took one of my prescription pain pills and fell into a restless sleep, waking up every few hours to try and get comfortable.


Day 2

Andrew went back to work and I was on my own (with strict instructions to call if I needed him). My day consisted mostly of Netflix & napping. I was still experiencing chest pain, but moving around on my own was a bit easier — even if I was still extremely slow. I also ate my first meal since surgery.

By early evening, I was getting bored and we decided to venture out to a friend’s get-together. I did pretty well at the party (only really struggling with a slouchy camp chair), but I was completely exhausted after a few hours and extremely glad to get home to my heating pad. Andrew helped me get into & out of the shower, I took another painkiller, and then promptly curled back up in my recliner-nest for a much better night of sleep.


Day 3

Tubal Ligation: Day3Andrew had another day off, so we got to spend it at home together. (You guessed it, watching more TV. Yay!) I was continuing to feel better and move around faster. My chest still hurt intermittently from the surgical gas, but it was obviously dissipating.

The incision inside of my belly button started itching like hell, but that could have been exacerbated by the fact that I had a latex band-aid over it for a couple of days. I got fed up and decided to chuck the band-aids just to be safe.

Otherwise, the only truly notable moment was when Andrew & I were lying on the couch and he accidentally sent me into a giggle loop. This simultaneously hurt AND caused my menstrual pad to leak, which we only found more hilarious. Jokes on him though: he was the one who had to help me clean up, because I still couldn’t bend over.

Where is the mystery in our relationship, you ask? It is gloriously dead.


Day 4

Aside from bending, movement was pretty much back to normal by Day 4. However, I came to the scary realization that I hadn’t pooped since the day before surgery — and I needed to desperately. I was bloated and gassy, but absolutely nothing was moving. In a panic, I asked Andrew to bring home a box of laxatives & hoped for relief.

That night, I decided to sleep in our bed for the first time (with a body pillow to help keep me from rolling onto my stomach). Unfortunately, sleep did not come easy. I was constantly getting up and going to the bathroom without any luck. My fear of painful post-surgery poops had been replaced by a fear of having to go to the emergency room with fecal impaction. Super sexy.


Day 5

I called to leave a message with my doctor’s office and started doing some online research of my own. Apparently, a few days of limited mobility and a total of 3 pain pills had left me with killer constipation. I also discovered (too late) that we bought the wrong kind of laxatives: the ones that cause your muscles to move, but do nothing to soften your stool.

I spent most of my morning on the toilet because my body was cramping & straining involuntarily, causing me to worry about both busting my abdominal stitches and bringing back my hemorrhoids. Finally, I experienced what I can only describe as “the most painful shit of my entire life.” Crying & exhausted, I curled up in bed, canceled my work meeting for the day, and texted my partner to pick up stool softeners in case the insanity wasn’t over.


Day 6

Day 6 was supposed to be my first day back at work, but I called in sick. I didn’t know yet if I would be constipated or have diarrhea, and I really didn’t think that I could handle being on my feet for 8 hours either way.

I did manage to put shoes on by myself though — which was a major win.


Days 7 & 8

Tubal Ligation: Day7Heigh-ho, heigh-ho, it’s back to work I go!

At this point, I’m an overly-cautious mess. My wardrobe consisted strictly of sweat/yoga pants, and my purse was holding both my pain medication & heating pad. I also realized that what I thought was a normal speed at home was actually the speed of an elderly turtle at work.

There is good news though! Despite my frustrating slowness, I was able to do pretty much everything I had to — except for lifting heavy things. I was scheduled for approximately 13-hour days between both of my jobs (one with lots of moving/one with lots of sitting) and I never had to bust out the emergency coping supplies even once. By the time I returned home, I was both sore & exhausted but otherwise okay.


Days 9-12

Tubal Ligation: Day10Thanks to placebo pills, I had been off of hormonal birth control for about 2 weeks at this point and my natural hormones started RAGING.

Even though I was nervous about how my abdomen would feel during orgasm, I couldn’t resist masturbation. And amazingly, there was only a bit of discomfort; no actual pain! With my fears behind me, I channeled my 15-year-old self and masturbated frantically for hours at a time. My partner & I also spent the next few days experimenting with positions that avoided contact with my belly. I was pretty much insatiable.

I never would have believed it, but my sexual health problems had all magically disappeared! Insertion no longer sent me screaming downstairs for my She*Pak. I started to notice a little bit of natural lubrication again. I could even use my beloved Good Clean Love without that horrible burning sensation. The surgery basically proved itself to be a fucking miracle!


Days 13 & 14

Tubal Ligation: Day13I went in for a follow-up visit with my doctor. When she asked how I was, I had to refrain from crying and telling her that I felt more alive than I had in months — maybe years. She took a quick look at my stomach, saw that my surgical glue had mostly fallen away but my thick incision scabs were still holding firm, said everything looked normal, and sent me on my way. It seriously took 5 minutes.

The next day, I got brave enough to try wearing jeans for the first time and tentatively lifting boxes at work again. Both were slightly uncomfortable, but completely manageable.


Day 16

Tubal Ligation: Day17With a little bit of help from my own impatience, one of my scabs came away with the rest of the surgical glue. The incision was a little pink & puckered (definitely going to scar), but otherwise looked just fine.

 


Day 22 (or so?)

Tubal Ligation: Day24My other scab was stubborn. Eventually, I couldn’t stand it any more and simply decided to remove it myself. Attached to the underside of the scab was a small chunk of surgical glue. Removing it left a fairly large divot in my skin, but at least it was able to start healing properly.


Nearly 3 Months Later…

Tubal Ligation: CurrentThe divot has filled itself back up with scar tissue. It is definitely still more noticeable than the other side, but neither of the scars bother me (except for the fact that they are not symmetrically placed). I wear them proudly.

My period has not yet returned to its pre-hormonal birth control levels. I am still using a small Lunette cup with no overflow issues. I anticipate that this will change and that I will once again have super heavy flows & cramp-filled weeks… but I’m enjoying this while it lasts.

Although my sex drive has not maintained the initial state of over-excitement, there are still plenty of noticeable changes. I can use any lube that I want without discomfort. I can enjoy insertion (with toys or my partner) without even a hint of worry. And best of all, I actually experience arousal again; mostly responsive, but also occasionally spontaneous. I tweeted recently that every time I find that I have lubricated naturally, it’s like Vagina Christmas. I’m not used to it, but I’m fucking ecstatic each time it happens.

My overall emotional state is also much-improved. I am having feelings again, and even though that has been scary sometimes (Election Disaster 2016), I still wouldn’t change it for anything in the world. I do find myself crying more, but it’s from the pure range of emotions that I experience — not the suffocating weight of anxiety & depression. I’m no longer walking around in a fog.

It may sound dramatic, but there is no doubt in my mind that this surgery saved my life… by both relieving my depression AND removing my ability to have children. I am actually in control of my life again and it feels absolutely wonderful. 


Insurance Updates (On-Going)

Altogether, the surgery totaled $17,884.42. After insurance, I have still been charged $3,506.86.

When I called United Healthcare, I anticipated a fight over the details of the Affordable Care Act in relation to sterilization. Instead, I was informed that my tubal ligation was incorrectly coded as a bilateral salpingectomy. I have spent nearly the last 2 months playing phone tag with Indiana University Health, wracking up detailed notes from dozens of calls, trying to get them to change my billing code to reflect the surgery that I actually had performed. (And being mildly freaked out by the fact that if they did perform the wrong surgery and remove my fallopian tubes, how would I even know?)

As of today, I have been told that my case is finally in review at the hospital. Afterwards, they should resubmit my corrected claim to insurance. And at that point, I will find out if I need to file an appeal with United, citing the ACA. It’s proving to be a long, stressful adventure.

[I will update this as my battle for free reproductive health care continues.]