In the gynecologist chair, my relationship, my future and my place in all the patriarchal structures suddenly became clear.
am tense. It’s like my body remembers.
My boyfriend sits next to me on the couch in the waiting room. I am grateful for his hand in mine, even though I still feel a bit silly for asking him to come with me. Next to us sits an elderly lady, her large Chanel bag is placed between me and her. She reads a fashion magazine in silence. There are no others in the room. The secretary’s door is open and I can hear her typing relentlessly.
“I am thinking about getting tested for STDs soon. You know, that period this winter when we broke up shortly… I’ve heard that there’s a place where there’s no queue if you are a gay man,” my boyfriend says loudly.
“But you are not a gay man,” I point out quietly, annoyed that he would bring this up right now.
“No, I know, but I could pretend I was.”
“I really don’t think that’s necessary. I don’t think you have to wait that long other places to get tested.” I am hissing at him now. The lady next to us sends us a stiff look.
I pick up my iPhone, and click on one of the webcomics I read daily. OhJoySexToys is a webcomic that makes in-depth reviews on sex toys, and — my favourite part — sex educational comics about a variety of topics (now that society is failing pretty badly at giving us a proper sexual education in school, you have to educate yourself.) Today the comic is about preparing yourself for anal sex. I place the phone at an angle so my boyfriend can read along. Then he will hopefully stop talking loudly about STDs and lying about his sexuality in order to cut in line.
“Does it say taking a dump?” he asks loudly, and the lady sends us another look, and I regret showing him exactly this comic. I am relieved when he has to go to work. I spend a moment sending grateful thoughts to my uterus and the tiny T-shaped object that has lived there for the last three years, making sure I didn’t get pregnant with any of the men that I’ve let inside my body. Soon, my name is called out.
he asks me to put my underwear on a chair in the corner.
“I’m a little nervous,” I admit in the gynecologist chair. I ask her, if it hurts more or less, when it’s the second time you have an IUD inserted. She answers, that every body reacts differently. She looks at me gently, and probably understands from my facial expression, that her answer didn’t exactly soothe me. She points at something in her windowsill. “Would you like a plushie?” I follow her finger and spot a black Barbamama plush toy. I nod. She hands it to me, and I immediately hug it tightly. It feels so soft and fluffy against my cheek.
“Others are nervous too?” I ask. I don’t know why I imagine other women to be super cool and relaxed about going to the gynecologist. She just smiles in response. She explains that she will start scanning me. She lubricates a transparent plastic phallus and puts it inside me. It feels cold. It’s a strange sensation to hug a teddy bear while someone is inserting something phallic into my crotch. It doesn’t feel like it’s a part of the same scenario.
“Your ovaries are fine, there are many good ovarian follicles.”
I feel a rush of pride following this statement. I am a good fertile woman! Society will be proud of my many good ovarian follicles! (can you get an A+ in ovarian follicles?)
She takes out a pair of pliers, and starts doing something to my vagina that I can’t see. Pride is instantly replaced by anxiety. Panic anxiety, a feeling of hands tightening around my throat. I feel claustrophobic, trapped on this chair, my feet cuffed, my body in the hands of a stranger. In this moment, I have no desire for anything to be taken out or inserted in my body. I feel so unprotected and vulnerable. A tear forms in my left eye.
“It’s out now,” she says calmly.
“I didn’t notice it at all!” I say in surprise.
“I have to ask you to cough now, and I will insert the new IUD.”
I cough. I feel a sharp, stabbing pain. My womb howls at the new object that’s been inserted, but it doesn’t take long for the worst cramps to subside. Last time, the cramps lasted for days. Last time I bled every day for a month.
am back on the street outside the gynecologist’s office. It’s raining and I take out my umbrella, holding it high above my head. I suddenly regret not asking if I could have seen the IUD that has lived inside my womb the last three years. I know the model is called Jaydess, and is colored in pink shades (she sounds like a sassy acquaintance!). I don’t know much else. It is strange to have carried something inside your body that you have never seen or held in your hand. I wanted to feel how it would have felt in my palm.
I walk in the rain, imagining how my IUD right now is making the mucus in my cervix thick and impenetrable, protecting me from future incoming sperm, the same way my umbrella is protecting me from drops of water. I’m glad I can choose to assert control of my own body. There are so many people who want to control women’s bodies; control what it should and shouldn’t do; when it is inappropriate; when it’s asking for being abused.
The feeling of panic hasn’t fully let go of my body, it’s hard to shake it off. I usually feel okay with going to a gynecologist. It is less painful, faster, and cheaper than going to the dentist. I don’t know why I have such strong feelings about it this time.
Maybe it’s about my age. I turned 28 this month. I’ve always thought that I wanted to have children as a 29-year-old. The same age my mother got me. I know well enough that you can’t plan life like this, but by getting this IUD, it is somehow the same as saying that I won’t get pregnant in the next three years. I am not unaffected by the increasing number of babies in my Instagram feed (though I am trying to outweigh it by following as many drag queens as possible). These visions of my next three years fill me equally with feelings of relief and sorrow.
Maybe it’s because my awareness of power structures and the patriarchy, and my own position in the social hierarchy, has become so much clearer since last time I was lying in the gynecologist chair. The anger and sadness that comes with that awareness.
A messages ticks in from my boyfriend. He asks if it went well.
I answer: “I almost panicked in there. But it didn’t hurt as much as the first time. My wallet also aches a little — it cost me $200.”
He offers to pay half. As to reedem himself for the pain he will never experience in his own body.
Hormonal contraception for men is already invented. But problems arose, when the male participants in testing it learned about the side effects that came with it; fatigue, mood swings, weight change — not to mention clinical depression, anxiety and heart attacks. The exact same side effects that women have endured in the last 70 years when hormonal contraception has been available.
I am not sure if my boyfriend would take hormonal birth control instead of me if it came on the market. I accept his offer.
Soon I can celebrate my 10th anniversary of how many years I’ve filled my body with hormones in order to not get pregnant. It could be nice if some of these experiences could be shared with the male body.