The Tall Virgin

I still am, wink wink… okay rewind. I took the loyalty pledge and swore that I would remain a virgin until marriage. This was something that I was super proud of while in high school. Sadly, I –broke-my-virginity-while-riding-a-bicycle.

It was a beautiful afternoon and I was riding the bicycle real fast down a slope, and woops! there I was, hymen all over the place. Okay, to be honest, I thought one could lose their virginity from riding a bicycle… do I see someone judging me? No? Good.

You see how it starts? You set off on this state of being on heat, to taking care of the heat, to the point that you suffer for handling the heat. And if you know me well, I have a vice which is being a passionate sex lover, so you can imagine how hard it can be for me. Okay. Brain out of the gutter 🙂

Sexually active, yes! Enough libido, yes! Eager to try out positions, yes! Sex toys? Ahhhhh, hehe… So when I was diagnosed with Endo, I had already faced all these Endo-related sex symptoms. And let’s just say, the sex part was saddening, because it became extremely painful to the extent of not being able to handle the entire process at times.

See how a man would beg for ‘just the tip?’ Ha! That could be hell, too. You could start spotting in the middle of an amazing session, there you are, wonder woman and your nunu is your shield, conquering the world of D, and all of a sudden!!! The redzis visit. I mean, who does not want to enjoy some good stuff with her hubby? And I may sound as though I joke about it, but this is just so I do not fall into a pit of depression.

At some point, the fear of getting into the act started to build up – seeing my man kissing me seductively, and ending up lying that I’m constipated, just to disgust him and keep him off the idea :D. Those good old impulsive sex days are gone. Sex in the car? On the kitchen floor? Well sir, let me confirm with my calendar if that is possible and I’ll confirm next week. However, once you get to know your body, you may still end up being as spontaneous as always.

But it is not all bad, especially once you know what you are up against. You find ways to counter it. Someone once wrote to me and asked, ‘Jess, how do you enjoy sex then?’

Simple, I-don’t-have-sex-EVER!! hahaha! Just kidding.

Well, it all starts with one thing, communication! One of the key things that I learnt was that, when you have Endometriosis, you have to be honest with your partner about what your body is going through. So I have always discussed which positions might be better than others, and/or what fun sex things I can do that don’t involve intercourse.

You see, your partner may be going through a lot of different emotions, so finding out what works for both of you will not only improve your sex life, but may lead to discovering a whole bunch of new techniques that you might not have even considered before.

Anyway…Below are some additional tips that I have for you

Open and honest communication between you and your partner. I got to learn that both of us needed to be patient and understanding towards each other. In particular, we needed to develop an awareness of each others’ predicaments and feelings. As a woman with Endometriosis, I needed to explain to my hubby the nature of my pain, and how it affects me, physically and emotionally.

Secondly, Experiment! Experiment! Experiment! Some women are able to enjoy intercourse if it is shallow, or of slow and gentle penetration. So we started to experiment with a lot of foreplay. Some of us are able to have pleasurable intercourse if there is plenty of foreplay to stimulate the natural lubricants in the vagina. Or if you are on hormonal treatment and cannot get satisfyingly wet, artificial lubricants such as Durex Play can be used.

My doctor told me that even with the most patient and sensitive experimentation, some women with Endometriosis will not be able to experience pain-free intercourse. If this is the case, you need to find other ways of sharing intimacy – after all, intercourse is not the only way of being intimate!
Lying in bed together, kissing, hugging, holding, stroking, massaging, and mutually masturbating can be just pleasurable as intercourse if you want it to be.

Track your cycle and try at certain times of the month.
For most of us, discomfort caused by Endometriosis is constant. But the pain becomes even more excruciating during your period – and sometimes during ovulation. What I came to learn is when you keep track of your cycle, you can also keep track of any symptoms related to Endometriosis. This will help give you a better understanding of what time of the month influences potential pain the most, and when you’re more likely to be pain-free.
There are free mobile apps you can download, such as Flo Period Tracker, to log your cycle. Or you could keep track of your period by creating your own menstruation calendar.

Try different positions.
If you have Endometriosis, you may find that some sex positions will cause you intense pain. The missionary position tends to be the most painful for me since because of how my uterus is tilted and the depth of penetration.
Experimenting with different positions has taught me and my partner which ones hurt and which ones to try only at certain times, so that we can have the most pleasure during sex.
Although which positions are considered better will vary from person-to-person. Think modified doggy style, spooning, raised hips, face-to-face, or with you on top.

Find the right rhythm.
Sudden deep penetration and quick thrusting can exacerbate pain for most of us with Endometriosis. Finding the right rhythm can help you experience less discomfort during sex. Talk with your partner about slowing down and not thrusting as deeply during intercourse. You can also switch positions so that you can control speed and limit penetration to a depth that feels comfortable for you.

Planning.
Plan for potential bleeding.
Bleeding after sex, known as postcoital bleeding, is a common symptom of Endometriosis. Postcoital bleeding can happen because penetration causes the uterine tissue to become irritated. The experience can be frustrating, but there are ways you can prepare for potential bleeding.

The bottom line.
Although Endometriosis can have a negative impact on your sex life, it doesn’t have to stay that way. Communicating with your partner about Endometriosis and its effects on your sexual desire, as well as pleasure, is key to your relationship. Do not let your partner view you as some fragile doll. Endometriosis doesn’t define you or your sex life.

 

Wigs and Bras in the back of a cab

Growing up, I was such a boy! Okay… not what you’re thinking. I behaved like a boy; climbing trees, getting into fights – you should see the marks on my legs! I never played Cha Mama na Cha Baba (back in the day, I think this confirmed how girly you are) I never thought I’d apply make-up on my face or ever wear lipstick, but the day I told my mum that she needed to buy me a brassiere, I knew the spell had fallen upon me. I was becoming a little woman. That, was girly to me.

 I sit here thinking, why did I even bother my mum for bras? I mean, I literally have two dots on my chest. The song Eeny, Meeny, Miny, Moe should have an addition; Jessie’s breasts. That’s how small they are. I’m I comfortable with them? Yes off course, they are mine.  Would I want bigger breasts? Hell no! These ladies take me through a roller coaster, almost as much as having a set of double Zs would (do those exist?).

No kidding, I have made countless appointments and trips to the doctors to have them checked. I thought I was really sick because of the unbearable pain they took me through. 

Little did I know that I suffer from cyclic breast pain. Basically, my hormones get all freaked out every month when I am approaching my period, and they punish my body in a go-sit-in-a-corner-and-think-about-why you-are-a-girl type of way. I remember sometime back, I was seated in a cab after a meeting and my breasts were so painful that I just removed my bra plus my wig to get that instant comfort, and just threw them in the backseat. The cab driver was confused but luckily for me, he acted all cool and just said, ‘Zimekuchokesha?’ Long story short, I forgot my wig and bra since in the cab since I was in a hurry to get into the house… How embarrassing was it for the driver who had to drop them over the next day.

Breast pain is real pain. It messes your entire mood. You have to regulate your movement, and any change in temperature can ruin your entire day.

So I found some ideas that helped me sort out breast pain, or at least give some relief and I hope it can come in handy for you or your loved one. 

Massage

Use hot or cold compresses on your breasts. To be very honest, I have a problem with this, so I let someone else do it for me. I am not able to do it myself because I get super scared, like what if I squeeze them too hard and they just disappear altogether? Yikes.

Prescription

If the pain is too much at a particular time, I get a prescription from my doctor to give me some comfort. I know how tempting over the counter meds are but I would recommend that you ask your doctor which pain med is better and how much to take, as long-term use may increase your risk of liver problems plus other side effects.

Wearing bras that fit

Amishadai (my hubby) introduced me to sports bras, so I started wearing them for those days when the pain is intense. I am not a fan of these since my breast suddenly go into nothingness, and the hope for a cleavage is forgotten J

Observe your diet

A dietary change can be really helpful. My doc told me to eat more complex carbohydrates, (I know! What are complex carbohydrates?) These are found in foods such as peas, beans, whole grains, and vegetables. So my doc told me that taking this is a strategy that helps with breast pain. To be honest, I haven’t tried this for breast pain but all I know is that diet is very important when you have endo.

Keep a journal

Noting when you experience breast pain and other symptoms, to determine if your pain is cyclic or non-cyclic. So that you can see when to see your doc…

P.S: Always have your breast checked for the slightest of changes. 

 You see, the pain can be in excess and make your life hard to bear, so it’s probably best to find ways that work for you so that you can have a great quality of life.

photo by @deni_raymond 

What did you say again?

Endometriosis! Try say that out loud. Go on – try!

Now try saying it again and again. Super hard to pronounce right? My mum still shrubs on this word. “Endome… endotri… Endoto… “Personally, I almost forget what the word means, it comes in so many shapes and you can just lose track of what it is, what causes it, how to manage it… so many questions!

Now if you thought pronouncing ‘endometriosis’ repeatedly was hard, imagine living with it. Again and again.

When I turned 13, I was still clueless about what periods felt like. All my friends had experienced them and I couldn’t be the only girl who hadn’t had hers, so obviously I was super psyched in anticipation to get them. (I still wonder why I was so happy – is it a milestone? Sigh!) Months later, my parents and I were seated at a clinic waiting to see a doc because I was bleeding heavily from my nunu and nuni (both front and back).

None of us knew that this was the beginning of painful and tough times. At that point, both the doc and my parents thought  it was amoeba, but after tests, all the doctor could do was give me sanitary towels.

I was now a young woman.

The next day, my mum had my aunts calling to congratulate me – apparently it is a big deal to get the red robots. However, days later I was still in pain and I missed school because it was unbearable.

Let me put it this way: When one is seated on a plane, you are normally prepped in case of an emergency – where the mask is? jump from here etc… it scares me to be on an airplane but at least I feel like I’d know what to do. Mh! (or maybe I would just be scared shitless and faint?)

With endo, you have no clue what is about to happen. Is it pain? Is it fever? Is it diarrhea? You almost live like a stranger in your own body, waiting for the owner to come reclaim it every month.

 

Pain is not the only challenge of living with this condition. It is daily torture. You never know what to expect – that slice of bread or that glass of milk could land you at the ER.

I met one endo warrior who told me that she blacks out because of the pain; another has no pain at all, she was just infertile. As you can see, endo takes many faces despite being a faceless douche-bag.

The other day I was at the ER and had a trans-vaginal ultrasound that indicated that I had a cyst on my left adnexa – is that even a body part? That sounds like a name of new planet that only supports the life of camels. (I love camels.) Anyway, with endo, I ended up knowing parts of my body that I did not know existed. Seriously, what is an adnexa?

So the question that most ask is, what is endo? This explanation is a dedication to my friend Natukunda who, to this point, has still not been able to understand what the condition is – and no, it’s not for lack of trying.

Endometriosis is often a painful disorder in which tissue that normally lines the inside of your uterus — the endometrium — grows outside your uterus.With endometriosis, displaced endometrial tissue continues to act as it normally would — it thickens, breaks down and bleeds with each menstrual cycle. Because this displaced tissue has no way to exit your body, it becomes trapped. Surrounding tissue can become irritated, eventually developing scar tissue and adhesions — abnormal bands of fibrous tissue that can cause pelvic tissues and organs to stick to each other. This entire process makes it extremely painful to live a normal day to day life. 

Endometriosis most commonly involves the ovaries, Fallopian tubes and the tissue lining of the pelvis. (And the adnexa) however, endometrial tissue may spread beyond pelvic organs.

When you read this, it may still sound hard to understand, I think, it’s just too foreign, I wonder if there is a Swahili word for it? Any idea?