Written by Jemima Palfreyman.
All I want for Christmas is a good, hard shag.
There. I said it.
I am an endometriosis sufferer. And I am horny. Imagine having been through so much vaginal trauma that just getting turned on is enough to send a spasm of severe vaginismus through what feels like your entire lower body. Imagine feeling so insecure that you’re unable to sexually satisfy your partner, that you have to use every ounce of energy to combat the bomb of ingrained misogyny and jealousy that explodes every time he hangs out with a female friend, no matter how much you trust either party.
In the cinema, when couples swap sideways glances or a cheeky knee-squeeze during a particularly steamy scene, I’m busy fighting back the prickle of tears. How I wish someone could pin me against the side of the shower or let me hop on in the back of their car, rather than having to discreetly remove my pantyliner-filled undies (stealing a quick glance to make sure I’m not already bleeding too much to ruin the sheets) and follow the same careful routine.
Now don’t get me wrong, my partner knows how to make me come. Hard. And we enjoy a great non-penetrative sex life. But endometriosis isn’t the kind of condition that allows for a steamy, spontaneous rendezvous… Even just the concept of plain “vanilla” fun seems like an entire layered sundae with all the toppings when you’ve not been able to enjoy it for years.
I get that this is all very ‘woe is me’ and whingey… but please, let me have this, guys. I’ve spent the last four and a half years since my diagnosis trying to convince myself that we ‘endo-warriors’ CAN live life to the full and get what we want out of it… but you know what, I actually feel pretty cheated.
When I’ve had examinations, operations, consultations, the primary concern of the doctor has always been how often and how severely I’m bleeding, day-to-day pain, fertility. Now, don’t get me wrong, all of these are extremely valid concerns; but not once has ANY doctor ever expressed genuine sympathy or concern at my lack of sex life, and society makes me feel like it would be shallow to make an issue of it. “It’s not all about sex, you know!”
But just like anybody with a chronic pain condition has a right to a pain-free life (still waiting for that!), or how anybody who is infertile has a right to have IVF on the NHS, I believe that sex is another basic human function that we all have a right enjoy (with a consenting partner, of course!). And I intend to fight for it.
I’ve been waiting two years for the surgery that will help me to enjoy my life again, hopefully for longer this time, as it’ll be far more extensive. But there’s still no sign of it happening this year. However, having done some initial research on various IVF support forums, I’m sure if I were in the situation that my husband and I had wanted kids, I’d have had more success getting far more expensive fertility treatment during that time than I have done waiting for the relatively ‘routine’ procedure that is a laparoscopy.
This is why initiatives such as The Vaginalogue are so important. It’s time for the world to wake up and realise that women are deserving of both quality of life and sexual pleasure. Me, I’ve made yet another appointment with my Doctor and I’m still holding out in the hope that maybe I’ll be getting more than just a lump of blood-clotty coal from Santa’s sexual sack this year!
Jemima Palfreyman is a professional musician who also dabbles in sporadic blogging and stand up comedy. She has been living with endometriosis since the age of 14, but was only diagnosed in April 2012. She is a vocal advocate for challenging taboos about women’s health struggles and her other hobbies include gaming, running and smashing the patriarchy. Find her blog here.