sex

"Why did I not have an orgasm for four years? The contraceptive pill."

You will surely come.

I didn’t have sex for four years. Nothing. No sexual contact with another person, or with myself, for four years. Not one orgasm. Okay, maybe a wet dream once… I’m not sure. During these four years there was such little blood flow to my vagina that my inner labia had all but shrivelled into two tiny pieces of what resembled pickled ginger from a sushi bar. Why did I not have an orgasm for four years? The contraceptive pill.

At 17 I wanted to be a nun and remain a virgin. I was drawn to religion and there was something about giving my life to something bigger than me that pulled at my heart. Then just shy of turning 19 I lost my virginity because as much as I wanted to give my life to something bigger than myself I also wanted a family. Few women I know have an amazing experience losing their virginity, I was no exception. So impactful was my first sexual experience that I didn’t have sex years after. At that time, I had never had an orgasm and you can’t miss what you never had, right?

Then along came Sex in the City. I spent my early 20s watching every episode. It told me that a woman was meant to be strong, sexual and independent, to somehow give off the impression that I didn’t need a man in my life yet my every move should revolve around finding a husband. It told me that sex was for personal pleasure (mostly his) and to have a good story to gossip about with my female friends. I was meant to be dating more and delighting men with sex. I resent letting this show influence my idea of what a woman should be but I can’t blame the show entirely. It was only a reflection of where society was at the time. I’m just worried we haven’t moved on enough because most of society still views sex as something we do solely for personal pleasure (mostly his).

So, now in my 30s, after my four years of no sex, not one orgasm, I decided to stop taking the contraceptive pill. With-in a month of stopping it, my sex drive was OFF THE CHARTS. Those four years of abstinence were about to abruptly end as I logged on, to window shop for sex, on Tinder. In the 12 months following I had two sexual partners.

I am completely paranoid about getting an STD and visited a GP after ending each partnership, to be tested just in case. Each time I’ve been met with uncomfortable lectures about safe sex as the GPs, both male and female, struggled to maintain eye contact with me. I thought we were past this. How can a GP be this uncomfortable talking about sex? You are okay to shine an eye watering bright lamp in my vagina and reach up to scrape my cervix during a pap smear but sex… oh my gosh no.

After 12 months of not taking the pill I was feeling great in most aspects but I had some issues with my period and three GPs suggested I go back on the pill. Two of those GPs were women. Given my past experience I felt uncomfortable to broach the subject but a little voice inside me told me I deserve to have a healthy, fulfilling sex life and should speak up.

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In a hasty mumble I said – but when I am on the pill I have no sex drive AT ALL. The GPs didn’t take this into any real consideration. One said I could try a different type of pill (which was weaker and would not fix my menstrual issues) and the other told me – well sex isn’t everything in a relationship and that since I didn’t have a long-term partner, it didn’t really matter.

An expert advises on the best way to bring your sex drive back from the dead, on our Sealed Section podcast. Post continues after audio.

I felt demeaned and annoyed. Why does a facet of my life, a facet of my human experience matter so little? Is it because we still view sex as purely for personal pleasure (mostly his). Maybe I want to live and feel every aspect of my life. My sex drive is as much a part of my health as my vitamin D level, as much a part of my health as my diet, my mental wellbeing. Why is having a healthy sex life only optional? Single or not.

Sex is not one dimensional. Thankfully in my 30s I did learn that sex is for pleasure, not only his, mine too, and it is also an intimate, vulnerable act of sharing and how I choose to partake in this part of my life is not someone else’s decision.

After visiting the GP I felt judged. That my wanting to have a sex drive was merely for my own pleasure and therefore not a necessity. I want to derive pleasure from sex but I also want to share it with any partner I choose, long term or otherwise.

We share stories of sex as one-dimensional experiences about personal pleasure. I am guilty of this myself. I feel like I don’t hear enough stories of sex as a way of connecting and sharing, I don’t even know how to put those experiences and vulnerabilities into words.

Will we ever stop seeing sex as purely a selfish act of pleasure and allow it to also be an intimate act of sharing, of being close and one that contributes to our health and wellbeing? Will women ever stop being demonised for receiving pleasure during sex?

Now… I’m back on the pill. My breasts are hard and sore, I crave chocolate and I struggle to orgasm. Apparently, that is all I deserve.

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