“Wait, are you upset with me? Yes, I slept with him. No, we’re not dating. Well, because I wanted to, and from all indications, I thought you were definitely on board.”
While this sounds like one side of a difficult discussion with a pushy girlfriend, it was actually the internal dialog I used to have with my vagina. Apparently she wanted me to have one serious boyfriend. Quaint, but not my plan. As 31-year-olds entering our sexual prime, the vagina and I both wanted sex in the city, but how did I end up a Samantha with a vagina who was acting like a total Charlotte?
Her problem seemed to be that she disliked making new friends, preferring one steady boyfriend to a steady stream of suitors. She exerted disdain for any chance encounters with a raging yeast infection. Searing, painful days followed even the quickest of quickies. It was understandable that she’d be upset. There she was, coasting along in the happy homeostasis of a pH-balanced wonderland, when BAM! — out of nowhere — there’d be this other penis in her personal space and action like she’d not seen in six months. She didn’t like it one bit and I was left to deal with the burn of her backlash.
I was shocked that she was so obstinate. Until then, we’d agreed on our choices of sexual partners; we’d had no desire to rush to sleep with silly, immature boys while in college. In our early 20s, we were both up for exploration. With the other suitors who crossed our path since, we learned to have fun while still being selective. Of course, we could have slept with that Italian lounge singer in Monte Carlo, but he had plenty of other amorous fans waiting. We settled for a makeout with the French guy in the Hotel de Paris.
If monogamous sex was what she wanted, I could have skipped the search for Mr. Amazing to settle for Mr. Orgasm-Four-Times-Weekly. And when I thought of monogamy that way, it made a strong case for coupling up. Four orgasms a week for a year. That’s 208 not including holidays, plus extra on vacations, and occasional multiples, obviously. One point for vagina. But opting for a relationship, not because I’m amazed and excited, but for regular hook-ups and companionship depressed me. Fiercely independent feminists, my vagina and I valued love and enjoyed sex, but remained free agents looking for a lover who was just right.
While a POV (Pissed Off Vagina) wasn’t an ailment my OB treated often, he surmised that naturally occurring, yet “foreign” bacteria from a male partner was likely throwing off my pH balance. If only “foreign” meant he lived in Paris. Bacteria plus all that motion would be enough to send anyone’s sensitive area into distress. Yet I wasn’t overhearing other single girls complaining of yeast-infection-like symptoms from sporadic sexual activity. Women post-romp appeared to laud their lover’s prowess or complain of his lack of talent. I was the only one who cursed my vaginal pouting.
My frank, sexually adventurous friend had a theory that if something was physically amiss after sex, it was a biological warning of inherent incompatibility. The relationship was doomed because body chemistry was out of whack. Following this line of thinking, I wrote off more than one “Casual Dating Relationship With Potential” as “Never Going to Happen” after the vagina exercised her right to veto by way of agonizing inflammation. I considered that perhaps we had separate biological clocks, since this issue began as I approached 30. Even trysts with the best of casual hookups started to cause painful reactions over time. Since this issue was worsening as I got older, was she getting more selective with my choice of men, or just more annoyed that I wasn’t close to settling down with any of them?
Or worse, was this was moral retribution? I thought I’d escaped Catholic guilt but I guess my vagina hadn’t, and it looked like she would keep me in a purgatory of pain until I repented and found holy matrimony. Or at least, monogamy.
After months of contemplating these theories, I was back at my doctor’s office — with the vagina as grumpy as ever. The nurse and I discussed my plight as she took my vitals. I mused that sex could be two minutes or an hour, with a man of any size, once in a night or multiple times and every encounter induced the same horrible reaction.
Then she asked the most brilliant question: “What type of condoms do you use?”
“The ones in the turquoise packages,” I answered. “I used to use purple ones.”
“Maybe you’re allergic to latex,” she suggested.
My doctor joined us and his description of a latex allergy supported this new hypothesis. My vagina hadn’t taken issue with my sexual habits, she was mad I was using latex! Since different brands use different amounts of latex, what I’d been assuming were yeast infections, were really full-on allergic reactions due the specific brands of condoms — turquoise vs. purple packages.
Equipped with this knowledge, I conducted informal “trials” and was elated that the after effects of using low-latex condoms were so much more endurable that I heard barely a peep from the peanut gallery. Zero aggravation, zero retribution.
Turns out, be it a boyfriend, sex or just non-latex, the vagina gets what she wants.