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

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.]

I’m 27, Childfree, and I Had a Tubal Ligation!

Why a Tubal Ligation?

I’ve always known that I didn’t want children. Or rather, I’ve known since the moment that I realized it was an option.

I grew up in a rural, conservative area where raising a family is an expectation. The only people I knew who didn’t have children were those who were not able to. Still, by the time I was 14, I had decided that I never wanted to be pregnant or have my own biological children. I didn’t particularly like kids under the age of about 10 or 12, and I figured that it was more socially responsible to foster or adopt anyway.

After I moved to the city for college (and was exposed to a wider range of people and ideas), I realized that I could choose to simply not have children at all. I could focus on a career. I could travel the world. Finally, my future seemed exciting — and most importantly, right.

I did a lot of research on sterilization and I heard the horror stories of not being taken seriously. I lost hope that a doctor would trust my ability to make my own reproductive decisions before I was in my late 30s. So, when I became sexually active at 22, I simply went to Planned Parenthood and started oral contraception.

My experience on hormonal birth control went from scary (depression, anxiety, & suicidal thoughts), to manageable (breast/nipple discomfort & possible decrease in libido), to potentially destroying my life & relationship. My depression was back, my sexual desire & arousal was non-existent, my ability to lubricate naturally had stopped, some of my favorite artificial lubricants suddenly started to burn, and insertion/orgasm ranged from uncomfortable to downright painful.

I was desperate to find a solution to my problems — and getting my body off of hormones seemed like the perfect place to start. A friend recommended me to a gynecologist who believes in reproductive autonomy (Dr. Kasper in Indianapolis), I mentioned permanent sterilization at my annual exam, and we scheduled surgery. Simple as that.

Happy Little Uterus


The rest of this post will be a chronicle of my surgery experience, primarily for those who want to know what to expect when going in for a tubal ligation.


The Night Before

The night before surgery, I did all of my prep work. I avoided food & drink after midnight. I showered with Hibiclens, removed my dark nail polish, and took out all of my piercings. I tried to do my “deep breathing” homework, but got distracted and figured that falling asleep to some ASMR videos would be just as helpful.

Surgery Day: Pre-Op

5:30 AM – We arrive 2 hours early to the hospital, as per my instructions. I check into the registration desk to receive my hospital bracelet and sign my consent form. Then I take my paperwork down to the basement where I give permission for the doctor to notify Andrew (my partner) when surgery is over. We sit down in the waiting room and wait.

6:00 AM – We get brought back to my pre-op room. I get asked a lot of questions about my medical history, current medications, and allergies — which I will repeat several times to multiple nurses, residents, and fellows throughout the morning. I pee in a cup so that they can do a last-minute pregnancy test. I wipe my entire body down with wet wipes that the nurse provided for me and then put on my hospital gown and grippy socks. I had started my period the day before, so I also receive the most ridiculous & uncomfortable pair of mesh underwear that absolutely will NOT cooperate with a maxi-pad with wings.

My nurse comes back to put my IV in, for which I promptly request that all needles stay far, far away from my hands. She inserts it into my forearm instead, near the radius bone — which might not have been much easier. From then on, it’s a waiting game.

7:00 AM – Shortly before my doctor arrives, I get informed that she has started to do bilateral salpingectomies in place of tubal ligations. (Recent research is showing that it may help to prevent ovarian cancer in the future. And removing the fallopian tubes altogether obviously reduces the risk of ectopic pregnancies.) Thankfully, I was prepared for this question.

A friend of mine went in for a tubal with the same doctor just a few weeks before and agreed to the salpingectomy. I had spent the last couple of weeks trying to get information from the nurses (who insisted that a last-minute change would never happen) and compare coverage through my insurance company. My friend & I are still waiting for our respective bills, but from what insurance told me, the salpingectomy would not be considered preventative care according to the Affordable Care Act — and would therefore not be covered 100%.

I explain this whole confusing & somewhat disappointing ordeal, my doctor agrees to the original plan (a laparoscopic tubal ligation with cauterization), and I am wheeled off to the operating room.

7:30 AM – I think that the nurses were a little surprised that this was my first time having surgery, because of how calm I seemed. My bravery only softened a little once I was actually inside the operating room; suddenly, I started shivering. To be fair, they had told me that it would be very cold and would soon be covering me in blankets. But it didn’t seem that cold.

The room is full of medical staff, all working swiftly on their individual tasks. They push my bed as close to the operating table as possible and help me shimmy over. They put special wraps on my legs to maintain blood flow. And then they inform me that they have started my anesthetic. It only takes a few moments and I am out.

Surgery Day: Post-Op

9:30 AM – I start to wake up gradually in what I assume is the Post-Anesthesia Care Unit. I don’t remember much aside from overhearing two nurses: One asks what procedure I had done, the other responds “She had her tubes tied. Yay!” I smile.

10:00 AM – I am somewhat awake and they wheel me back to my private recovery room. My nurse from before is there and asks about my pain; I tell her I’m probably only at a 4. She then asks if I want my “husband” to be called back. I giggle on the inside, but am still too sleepy to correct her, so I simply say yes. Once he’s there, she gives me some Sprite & crackers and he helps me eat & drink. (I don’t remember much of what we talked about during this time, but I know he was cracking jokes because I gave him the bird when my nurse wasn’t looking.)

I can’t leave the hospital until I pee, so I ask for another Sprite and wait. Eventually, I think I can go and my nurse helps me out of bed and down the hallway. I’m surprisingly unsteady on my feet and very slow. My nurse confides in me that her & her husband also decided not to have children and I instantly develop all the warm fuzzies for her. She asks if I think I’ll need help in the bathroom, but I insist that I can manage. I pee, she helps me back to the room, and then it’s Andrew’s job to help me get dressed in my pajamas again.

Thankfully, my friend had suggested that I bring my own baby wipes with me, so we’re able to get most of the orange surgical stains off my skin. I have 3 incisions: one on either side and another inside of my belly button.

11:00 AM – My nurse sits down with both of us to go over my discharge & recovery instructions. Andrew signs the paperwork, since I am still a little loopy. Another nurse arrives with a wheelchair to transport me back up to the hospital pharmacy for my anti-nausea & pain medications.

My prescriptions aren’t quite ready yet, so Andrew & I decide to relinquish the wheelchair and wait by ourselves. When they’re ready, he insists that he will take care of it so that I don’t have to move around more than absolutely necessary. He then helps me shuffle my way back to the front doors of the hospital and finds me a place to sit while he gets the car. After a long morning, we’re finally on our way home.


For details on my recovery, the amazing effects of going off hormonal birth control, and potential insurance battles… click here!

A Sex Blogger Who is Afraid of Sex?

I’ve been silent lately. Most days, my energy is zapped simply by existing; making it through another day at a job that I am growing to despise, escaping into a pile of fiction, and convincing myself that “lurking on social media” is synonymous with “being social.” The blog has gone stagnant in the nearly 2 months since my last review — and it all somehow seems outside of my control. My backlog of sex toys is long and unmoving and it causes me so much anxiety that I often feel like there is a tiny mouse inside of my heart, clawing & chewing on very vital things.

At this point, my relationship with sex is a wreck. There are so many layers that I don’t even know what’s at the root of my issues anymore.

Is my birth control causing my low libido? Is the depression making it worse? (Or is the birth control suddenly making the depression worse again?) Maybe the weight I’ve gained in the last year has destroyed my body image and made me feel unsexy? (Is the depression making me gain weight too?) Am I simply putting too much pressure on myself and creating a negative feedback loop? …Or (and this is most terrifying of all) is this simply the way that I am now?

Everything is too tangled up to make sense.

As you all know, I’ve been dealing with “low libido” for years. It started as a lack of spontaneous desire. Then (as I began to realize the last time I wrote about struggling through painful sex) it became increasingly difficult to experience responsive desire and arousal — mentally or physically. More and more often, I was masturbating simply to release physical stress; using my Hitachi for a quick 2 minutes while I continued to watch Netflix. My orgasms became something that was happening to my body; a physiological equation that my mind never needed to enter into.

With my partner, I began initiating quickies & rushing through sex as much as possible. It required less energy and it was easier that way; if I didn’t give my body or mind the time to get aroused, then I couldn’t be disappointed when it didn’t happen. And of course, it was precisely when we did attempt to slow down and focus on “foreplay” that I finally fell apart. After an hour of kissing and touching, it became obvious to both of us that the only emotion I felt was an increasing panic that I didn’t feel anything sexual at all.

I cried myself to sleep that night and I’m crying again as I write this. It’s probably been over 2 months since my partner and I have had intercourse; the longest we’ve gone since we became sexually active. I so desperately want to want sex again… but I just don’t. To be honest, I’m actually terrified of being sexual with him — of being sexual at all — because I worry that I’m not strong enough to battle my own (perceived) shortcomings and self-hatred. I can’t even study sex in an academic way anymore without feeling like a failure. I listen to other people talk about craving or enjoying sex and I get incredibly sad & jealous. That used to be me. I used to have those emotions. Now I just feel broken.

And the worst part is, I absolutely know that the longer I drag this out, the harder it becomes to bounce back. I constantly feel like I’m letting everyone down: myself, my partner, the companies that I have partnered with on this blog, my readers. The last couple of times that I have tried to masturbate for reviews, my negative emotions have spilled out in the form of physical pain during insertion or orgasm. Not exactly a glowing endorsement for a product that should induce pleasure.

I guess what I’m saying is… I’m still here; I’m just in the background right now, trying to gather up the strength to battle this out. I am not planning on giving up the blog or the wonderful sex-positive community that I have become a part of, but I also don’t know how to be a sex blogger while I am actively dreading sex. At this point, all I know is that I need to find a way to take the stress & pressure out of the situation. I’m just too exhausted & confused to know how to begin.