So that’s a really, really long-winded post title. I think it may actually be a record, even for me, and I’m known for writing epic titles.
By the way, this post may be TMI for some, especially if you’re a man who feels a bit uncomfortable reading about “women’s problems,” so you have been warned. (TMI = “too much information.” I’m not usually a fan of text speak type abbreviations, but there’s something about that one that randomly appeals to me.)
When I was a teenager, I suffered from really bad monthly menstrual problems. By which I mean they were very painful, very heavy, and also completely irregular. “Monthly” was not the best word to describe it! They really messed up my life because I had to take time off school, and I never knew when they were going to happen, so it was impossible to plan for them.
In my early twenties, I finally went to the doctor about them, and was put on the pill. (The hardest part about this was keeping it secret from my mother. I still lived at home, and I knew she had medical concerns about the pill, having had a bad experience of it herself.) For me, it was like a miracle. I was now regular as clockwork, thanks to my monthly cycle being artificially controlled, and within a few months, the pain and the heavy bleeding had settled down to manageable levels.
But it wasn’t all wonderful. After a couple of years on the pill, some odd things started to happen. I started to experience chest pains and irregular heart beat. One day, serving customers in my retail job, I had to take a break to sit down because the chest pains got so bad. Shortly after that, I stopped taking the pill, but the pain, heavy bleeding and irregular cycle soon came back, so I found myself seeing a different doctor to see if I could try a different pill.
She put me on a different one, and everything was great again.
That was until the migraines started. They began on the first day of bleeding, and went on right until the bleeding stopped. Even worse, that part of the cycle was taking longer than normal, and I was losing 7 days out of every month to migraines. If my boss hadn’t been a migraine sufferer, and hadn’t been sympathetic, I would probably have lost my job.
In an effort to avoid the migraines, I stopped taking a break between packs of pills. Instead of waiting 7 days before starting each new pack, I just ran them straight on one after another. That meant no bleeding at all, and no migraines … until my body couldn’t handle it any more, and my now 3-monthly bleed started of its own accord, and I spent the next several days in bed, trying to hide from the pain.
Due to a bout of high blood pressure that was triggered by stress, my doctor had questioned a couple of times whether I should be on the pill at all. Even though my blood pressure was normal now, I knew headaches were a contra-indication for the pill, so I didn’t dare go back and say I was suffering. I just carried on as best I could, until finally, in my early 30s, I had to admit I couldn’t go on like that, and stopped taking the pill altogether.
It took nearly a year for my cycle to get back to normal. And normal it was. Painful, heavy and irregular. But at least the migraines stopped, and by this time I had discovered the wonders of ibuprofen, and its effectiveness against menstrual pains. I decided I could live with it.
If you’ve read my first post on asexuality, you will know I was in a relationship by this time, and I had realised I had no desire to have sex with anyone, male or female. That was all about to change!
About 18 months after coming off the pill, something weird started to happen. I realised I wanted a baby. And I don’t mean I just wanted a baby; I desperately wanted a baby. The thought of being a mother was all consuming. I had always found the thought of pregnancy slightly icky, and been uncomfortable at the sight of pregnant women showing off their bumps. The notion of childbirth horrified me, and the idea of breastfeeding made me shudder.
Suddenly, it was all I could think about. Getting pregnant in a lesbian relationship isn’t the easiest thing in the world. You need to either go through a clinic or find a suitable sperm donor. The best way to get pregnant is the way nature intended – meet up with your chosen donor in a hotel, at the right time of the month, have sex as many times as you can both manage, and hope for a positive test result.
Sex with a relative stranger so I could get pregnant and have a baby? No problem. I could do that.
I was obsessed with the search for a donor. I read everything I could find about pregnancy, child birth, and different systems of care. This was going to be as natural as possible. My baby would be born at home, would sleep in the bed beside me, so he or she could feed naturally during the night, and would be carried around in a sling against my chest all day.
Exactly as nature intended.
Then an even stranger thing happened, and I realised I’d fallen – big time – for a man I worked with.
At first I thought I was in love with him, which is a bit tricky when you’re already in a very serious relationship with someone else. It’s even more tricky when the object of your desire is happily married. Trickier still when you’re out to everyone as a lesbian, and someone who has no interest in men. Worse, my partner and I had already set in motion our plans to relocate, and we would moving to a different part of the country after 2 months.
Then I realised it wasn’t love; it was lust. All I wanted was to have sex with him. I wanted him to be the father of my baby.
My mind seduced me with elaborate fantasies of how, and where, and when we would meet. I imagined the encounters, and what we would do together once we were alone, with a level of detail that would have shocked most of my friends. Of course, our meetings would be secret. I didn’t want to destroy my relationship. I just wanted to spend time alone with this man, exploring each other’s bodies … and making a baby.
Nothing happened. I was too shy, and he was too happily married. My partner and I moved away, and I never saw him again.
For the next few months, the baby obsession continued, and I renewed my search for a suitable sperm donor. But I was starting to realise my partner wasn’t as enthusiastic as I was. We argued – a lot. My desire to become a mother was putting a huge strain on our relationship.
One day, after a massive row, I made an appointment with the doctor. If I wasn’t going to realise my dream of having a baby, I wasn’t going to put up with the hell of an irregular and heavy menstrual cycle either. I was going to ask to go on the depo.
(Depo is short for depo provera, which is a contraceptive drug that’s delivered by injection every 12 weeks. It’s different from the conventional pill in that it stops the monthly cycle altogether, and many women who have problems with the pill are fine on it. It seemed like a good option for me.)
I started the depo, and got on with life. I wanted to lose weight, so I started a new healthy eating regime and took up running. I got a new job, and kept myself very busy with lots of overtime.
A few months later, I was surprised to find a pregnancy magazine tucked in the end of a bookshelf. I flicked through a few pages, stared at it in disbelief for a while, and shuddered.
What the hell was I thinking?
Whatever was going through my head when I decided I wanted a baby? I’d known since I was 5 years old that I didn’t want kids. Everyone had told me that would all change when I grew up, met a wonderful man and fell in love, but it never had. For most of my life, I’d had absolutely no desire to have children.
Until I was in my early 30s and I’d been off the pill for 18 months. My hormones must have gone crazy!
When people talk about love at first sight, I laugh in disbelief. I have personal experience of what your hormones can do. I’ve learned to never trust any feelings that don’t fit with my prior life experience. Those chemicals in the body are tricky things. They tell lies, and make the mind believe things that can’t possibly be true.
I’m not mother material. Having a baby would have been a disaster for me. It would have completely screwed up my life.
But this begs the question: Do I really “not want” sex, or is my sex drive artificially disabled because I am still, nearly 10 years later, on the depo?
Would I still be asexual if I stopped having my injection every 12 weeks?
I have no desire to find out.
For me, personally (other people will differ), sexuality has always been a choice. Once I got over the stage of “realising I must be” a lesbian, I realised I had actually made a choice. Since I didn’t desire sex with men or women, I wasn’t technically straight or gay, so I had decided I was a lesbian. I was happy with that.
My next depo is due in June. I could decide not to have it, wait a few months, and see what happens. But I’m not going to do that. I don’t want to experience out of control, raging hormones. I don’t want to get obsessed with having sex with anyone. I don’t want to be ruled by my body’s desires.
I like my life as it is, thank you very much. If the depo is what’s keeping my hormones turned off, then I’ll keep going back, time and time again, for my regular dose.
And if that makes me asexual forever, then for me, asexuality is a choice.