Tag Archives | contraception

Who needs contraception?

How in god's name do babies KNOW when you're trying to get jiggy? | Betty HerbertThis week marked our (I-can’t-believe-I’m-old-enough-to-have-been-married-for) 14th wedding anniversary.

I looked it up to see if I was due any sort of an exciting gift. Apparently it’s ivory this year (we shamefully ignored last year’s conservation-grade suggestion of fur, too).  I can’t help but feel that these lists were composed in less ethically-conscious times.

In any case, we both knew what we wanted for our gift this year: you know what I’m talking about. Frankly, it doesn’t happen all that often at the moment, not for lack of enthusiasm on our part (well, okay, for a bit of a lack of enthusiasm on our part), but because of the tiny, humanoid contraceptive device that sleeps across the landing.

I swear to god, that boy has got detectors fitted somewhere. The second they register any physical contact between us, he wakes up. This is a child who routinely sleeps through the night; and yet H only has to look at me the wrong way, and he’s suddenly roaring for our attention.

How on earth does he know? We don’t get the chance to reach the bit where it might be noisy. Is this some evolutionary device to prevent any competition from younger siblings (in which case: don’t worry Bert; we’ve got that more than covered)?

However it works, we outfoxed him. I mean, it’s entirely possible that his little alarm bells were going off all the way up the hill at nursery, but we weren’t there to hear them this time.  Which made a rather delicious change.

Happy anniversary, H.

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I am impatiently waiting for my period to start.

Those of you who have followed this blog from the beginning are entitled to chuckle at that. In those early days, I was on a permanent period. Then, I would have quite happily given up the damned things for good, in full knowledge that I had undergone more than my fair share.

Now, I am waiting with some excitement, because it will mean I can start the process of harvesting and storing my eggs for a rainy day (mine or someone else’s). It’s taking a long time. I keep experiencing the kind of bodily insinuations that a period might be on its way, but so far, no luck.

This means that we’re having to use condoms in the meantime. I don’t think I’ve ever fully shared with you just how much I dislike condoms. I’m allergic to the vast majority of them (when I first started having sex, it took me months to work out that you weren’t supposed to swell up for a few days afterwards), and the rest of them irritate me beyond all measure.

I’m incompetent at putting them on. I hate the smell. I hate the sensation. I hate changing position and worrying if they’re still in place. Most of all, I think they seriously reduce sensitivity for me. I know that’s the wrong way round, and that it shouldn’t make any difference, but in all honesty, I find orgasm an arduous process with a condom. Herbert, it seems, is perfectly happy in them; but I’m significantly less juicy.

Maybe it’s because it all seems like a bit of a pantomime. Left to my own devices I don’t ovulate, so the condoms are just belt-and-braces, a prophylactic against my own sense of bodily disappointment rather than any risk of pregnancy. It’s fun to pretend that we might need them, that without them there’s a possibilty. It’s hollow, really, an empty threat.

As hollow as the pregnancy test I took last week, thinking maybe, just maybe, my period was late for a reason.

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I’ve had my coil removed.

Don’t panic, I’m not trying to conceive. Actually, it’s more like the opposite: I’ve had my coil removed so that I can spend more time delaying pregnancy.

This labyrinthine bit of logic comes courtesy of the Bridge Clinic’s Freeze and Share programme. It lets me freeze a clutch of my eggs for free (the process would normally cost around £5k), provided I donate some to women enrolled on their IVF programme.

I’m 34 this year, and still deeply undecided about having children. My view literally changes from one day to the next, but nothing in me says ‘Now’. Maybe it never will – after all, I’m fond of joking that I’m waiting until I can afford a squadron of nannies. And yet I know that the quality of my eggs are declining already, and this will drop even more rapidly after 35.

At the same time, my doctor has told me that I could never conceive without medical support (if you’re thinking of adding a comment to this post saying, ‘You never know, miracles happen’: Don’t. The world isn’t quite the same as Take A Break would have us believe). If it wasn’t for this, I’m not sure I’d be pursuing the Freeze & Share, but it seems like I’d have to undergo this step sooner or later. And the idea of donation is hugely comforting to me – if I’m too flaky to reproduce, then at least I’m helping someone who’s surer than I am. It assuages some of the guilt, somehow.

I confess that I was absolutely dreading the effects of the coil removal, but nothing catastrophic has happened so far. I’m perhaps a little bit hormonal, a little bit grumpy and tight-throated. I just have to wait for my period to arrive now –  if indeed it arrives at all, I’m not very good at such things – so that I can undergo a list of tests to see if I’ve got what it takes.

I secretly suspect that I haven’t, that it can’t be that simple. Not that I think the physical process of egg-harvesting is easy; from watching friends, I know it isn’t. It’s just that I can’t believe that science has provided me with this miraculous little get-out clause, the ability to delay parenthood until I’m settled, certain, content, if that time ever comes.

In the meantime, we’re trying to use condoms, which seems like a bizarre new imposition on our lives. I’m utterly incompetent with the damned things, and have a terrible habit of saying, ‘Oh it’s okay, I’m functionally infertile. Let’s not bother.’ I must get out of that mindset.

But this led to a fascinating discovery on my part. Last week, condom-free, Herbert said, ‘Mmm, it’s so nice without the strings.’

‘What,’ I said, ‘you could feel them?’ The coil leaves two wiry strings wrapped around your cervix, which are supposed to be undetectable during sex. Clearly not. I had no idea he was politely refraining from mentioning them.

This reminded me that it took six months for him to work out what they actually were. When they came up in conversation one day, he said, ‘OH! That makes sense now. I thought you’d grown hairs.’

I suppose I should be grateful that my husband thinks I have a hairy cervix, and yet still finds me attractive.

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Whisper #26 – C(ondom)atastrophe

Author: Uzumaki

I’m going to say it straight off: Japanese guys have smaller cocks.

I confess that my evidence could be more reliable as I haven’t actually seen any. Japanese guys really don’t do it for me. I’m a tragic yet common victim of the Electra complex, and I really like my men to be 6ft plus.

So how dare I make such a statement?

The condoms. The girth is small enough to be docking penises like lambs’ tails.

The story takes place in Tokyo, when I met another international student on a study trip. Tall, pale, scruffily dressed, with ugly, retro glasses, a paint-stained cap, and a sparse moustache. In that first impression, I struggled between finding him incredibly fascinating and writing him off as a complete dick.

We didn’t really speak again until we ended up seated next to one another at a group social occasion. He wasn’t very forthcoming with conversation. But at some point, he turned and threw some short answer over his shoulder, and it hit me. Attraction button was now switched on.

During the next month and a half, he preoccupied my mind as I danced invisibly before him. Then suddenly, he started showing an interest. Within a few days, it became apparent where we were heading.

We left a party early to “make food.” Food eaten, eye-contact avoidance, and twenty awkward moments later we kissed. Not with great passion, but with the cautiousness of two people who aren’t really sure what the other one wants.

After a while, he said goodnight and went back to his room.

The next night, to his surprise and reticence(!), I invited him to stay over. The next few days involved some passionate encounters sans full-on sex, as neither of us had any condoms.

One afternoon, highly frustrated, I ordered him to get dressed and marched him to the local convenience store. Which turned out not to be very convenient at all.

Thus began the longest and most expensive condom quest the world has ever known.

We first found a rack at a local drugstore, where glitzy boxes laughed at us in their sparkling glory. Having heard the rumours about Japanese men being smaller, we settled on “Super Big Boy – Size L” with a picture of a stallion adorning the front. It seemed a sensible choice, given that he is average in size. Twelve of these beauties cost us £17.

We returned home and somewhat artificially reinitiated our love-making session. We ripped open the packet, pulled out a condom and tried, to no avail, to squash it onto his cock.

We eventually rammed it on to his poor, tortured member and attempted sex. However, Super Big Boys aren’t made of nice and stretchy latex like Durex. Oh no. It feels like being shagged by a plastic bag. And it sounds like it too.

Another fruitless quest meant that we resorted to “Mega Big Boy – XL”, once again adorned with fearsome animal imagery, so the man can boast about his “elephant” size.

These proved a little better, but fitting them was still a struggle. And if there’s one way to kill an erection, ramming a condom onto it certainly works. The passion dies too.

Nevertheless, we persevered. Until one split.

My reaction in one word: FUCK.

Desperate Google searching revealed that emergency contraception cannot be bought over the counter in Japan.

Turns out you have to go to a women’s clinic for one of these little life-savers, or rather, baby-blockers.

So we rushed to a place that will haunt my nightmares for years…

We step into a small waiting room area. All the walls are a nauseating baby pink and a giant painting of an incredibly ugly baby leers out over the seats.  Plinky-plonky music, no doubt intended to sooth, is on a loop, giving the setting video-game surrealism. Women are sitting quietly holding their babies, or playing with them on a mat. There is not another man in sight.

We are given a form to fill out and perch awkwardly on the edge of the chairs. He scans the form and starts translating for me.

Him: “They need the date of your first period.”

Me: “My first ever period?! Are you sure they don’t want to know the date of my last period?”

Him: “No. Your first period.”

Me:  “I don’t know. Sometime when I was 12, I think…… What have you written?”

Him: “I made it up. It’s actually my birthday.”

Me:  “I first menstruated on your 15th birthday?!”

Him: “Yes.”

We hand the form in. After a while, the secretary comes over to us and makes some urgent enquiries in a low voice. I only have beginner Japanese. But I know the word for period.

Seiri, seiri….” she repeats, getting louder and louder.

He quickly mutters something. They both turn to stare at me and confer some more. She leaves.

Him: “I read the kanji wrong – it was your last period they wanted. She wanted to know if you had been pregnant during the past 8 years. ”

Me: “So she thought I got pregnant when I was 13 and stayed pregnant forever after?!”

Him: “I don’t know.”

Me: “I wish they’d turn that music off!”

We return to staring at our feet. The lady approaches us once again. More conferring. I get the gist. She’s asking what we need. This should be no problem. We looked up the word on the Internet. You just have to say “Morning After Pill” like you’re yawning: “moningu afuta piru.”

He repeats and repeats, and she gets more and more confused. In the end, red-faced, he mutters something and her eyes widen in understanding. With another quick glance at me, she retreats.

Me: “What did you say?”

Him: “Pill. Make the baby stop.”

Eventually, we are called in to the consulting room to meet the doctor. Surrounded by female assistants and treating only women, apparently this is the only male that works in this “women’s clinic.”

The doctor proceeds to ask lots of questions.  I squirm in my seat.  Then I hear a word I recognise: “shippai.” Failure.  Yes, damn right it was a failure! If you’re condoms weren’t so fucking small!

I am given two pills to be taken at a twelve-hour interval.  We pay over £30 and scarper as fast as we can.

Back at the apartment, by unspoken agreement, we throw ourselves into frantic sex. Over an hour of pounding. Part de-stressing. And part, “We don’t have to use a god-awful condom for this round!”

Exhausted and sore, we sleep. Then we shower and head out for an evening of eating and drinking with the group.

I love food. I eat more than my fill and greedily hoover up any leftovers. Stomach bulging, I discretely take Pill Number 1.

We return home, and sleep. Until I wake up at 2am feeling extremely sick. A hamster is using my stomach as an exercise wheel.

I promptly vomit up my food. Try to sleep. Vomit some more. And the pattern repeats throughout the night, with him comforting me all the while.  At 10am, I just hope I can keep Pill Number 2 inside me.

Fortunately, the pill worked despite the horrible side-effects. After this incident, we paid a visit to the friendly Condomania chain across Tokyo and found ourselves some reliable Durex. That was another £17!

We’ve since continued our international relationship. But wherever and whenever we end up meeting, a packet of Durex is sure to be in our suitcases.


This piece is not meant to be offensive to Japan or the Japanese. I love Japan and I plan on living there next year. Yes, I am aware of the current crisis. I have donated to the cause. Have you? If not go here: http://www.redcross.org.uk/japantsunami/?approachcode=68816_googlePAD5JpTs&gclid=CLCTvrig3acCFUqApAodNxNT9Q

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