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kill pill: part two – fever

Fragile: Handle With Care

A sinking feeling unrolls itself in my chest and out my eyes when I think of readers who may be experiencing my writing as shaming or ridiculing them. Please forgive me and my work if that has been the case for you.
Through choosing a different path from hormonal contraceptives and sharing my experience of it, I do not want to attack anyone’s choice to use them. You have a right to use whatever contraceptive method suits you.

Eggs and blood,

M a d e l e i n e



Image courtesy of WE LE MIR

Image courtesy of WE LE MIR

I guess it’s no surprise that the first person to ask me if I was on the pill was a boy. It was the Summer of 2006. I was 17 and he was, too. He was a long-jumper and a Gemini. His mind was a maze, I didn’t understand him at all, and he was really, really sexy. He played his guitar at lunchtime, loved the film Closer and asked questions like “are you a leader or a follower?” “Do you understand or do you judge?” “Do you trust me?” “Are you a virgin?” His eyes sparkled in the darkness with a depth of intention I hadn’t encountered before and I was struck by a desire to meet the passion of his gaze with every inch of my body as quickly as you could say: “refill this prescription please, 10 minutes is fine, I’ll wait.”

I contemplated this experience from my bed-ridden state last week. Yep. Kill Pill Week One was akin to a Victorian-era melodrama: sweating, cold compresses, nausea, thunderstorms and fainting. Three times. Delirium. Dreaming of women with large bellies stomping and chanting and an African man nicknaming me Bumblebee.

Other factors may have contributed to this state that would be worth noting. A couple of weeks ago I found Bill Phillip’s 1999 Bestseller “Best Body For Life” by the side of the road and threw myself into it’s exercise regime guns blazing. Bill would be so proud. But I was waking each day to stiffening pain all through my loins and perhaps needed to be stopped – by omnipotent force, if necessary – at all costs. I was also half-heartedly taking the pill every three-ish days, which is not recommended by anyone anywhere so please don’t do it.

You see, I had searched online about the best time to go off the pill and deemed the answer to be whenever I had the motivation to do so. But I couldn’t find it anywhere and I daresay I forgot about it completely every three-ish days. I felt frightened of facing what may emerge in my un-hormonally-altered state. I’ve been entwined with the elusive ways of the pill for ten years. I can barely remember the thoughts and feelings of the girl who stood before that boy and decided that she had some serious catching up to do.

I was also scared of what may happen physically as a result of not taking the pill. Holly Grigg-Spall explains in Sweetening the Pill – a text on the subject that I’d recommend all 100 million women taking the pill for contraceptive reasons read – that it changes every single bodily system: “energy levels, memory and concentration, motor coordination, adrenalin levels, pain threshold, vitamin retention, blood glucose levels, thyroid and adrenal function, sleep patterns, body temperature, skin colour and texture, brain wave patterns, metabolism, visual, auditory and olfactory acuity, concentrations of vitamins and the immune system”.

Then there’s The Future of Sex As We Know It. What happens if my partner and I spend a few months without him orgasming inside my vagina? Will our relationship be lacking? Will I be lacking? In his eyes and/or in my own?

There seems to be a lot of pressure on what does or does not take place in the bedroom. Cue Big Mama from Tennessee Williams’ Cat on a Hot Tin Roof pointing to the bed, exclaiming “when a relationship goes on the rocks, the rocks are there, right there!” Worried by this, I searched the definition of “sex” on Google: “(chiefly with reference to people) sexual activity, including specifically sexual intercourse”. Oh! So, sex, by definition, isn’t necessarily based on him orgasming inside me – that’s promising!

But… Wait.

What is sex, then?

Education about it at school was fixated on the risks associated with the male ejaculation taking place inside the vagina. We rarely took a detour past the pleasure and possibilities surrounding this. The class walked the road between pregnancy and HIV and came back again. No one was teaching sexuality or sensuality as anything more. But I recall female friends during this time exploring their sexuality with other women and finding the question of their virginity really difficult to answer. Because, for some reason, technically, they hadn’t “had sex”. Why? According to the dictionary definition they most certainly have. Sexual activity: tick. Sexual intercourse (“intercourse” defined as “communications or dealings between individuals or groups”): tick, tick.

Why is it implied that we haven’t had sex – or we aren’t having sex – unless a penis has ejaculated inside a vagina? And does the reverse apply to men exploring their sexuality with other men? Do they actually need a vagina to lose their virginity? Or do they have the advantage of possessing a penis, so they’re able to lose their virginity to another man?

What gets “lost” anyway?

Who am I without penis-vagina ejaculation?

Did he come inside me, therefore I am? And I’m not now?

No wonder I was fainting in his arms last week. This obsession over the exact whereabouts of an orgasm and its legitimacy feels really unhelpful. Sex-ed classes, TV, films, magazines and pornography suggest sex to be some kind of outcome-oriented endurance sport. It isn’t portrayed as a spiraling process of ever-greater intimacy with self and with other, nor is it about acceptance, union with spirit or transcendence – unless you’re a drugged up fangbanger on True Blood. Sometimes it isn’t permitted before marriage, but generally that’s a plot point to be overcome: rest easy, viewers. They’re either a lunatic or they’ll get over it.

Granted, some porn is dedicated to a love of the male ejaculation taking place anywhere but inside the vagina. And, for your convenience, these acts are neatly divided into categories which you can click on and view. Like when shopping for books on Amazon or sandals on Asos.

It occurred to me – somewhere between his arms and the floor – that all of this may be absurd. And I stopped taking the pill. Because looking into my partner’s eyes I saw the possibility of something more than a cumshot. I saw a part of myself, and our relationship, that is yet to be uncovered.

Maybe that 17-year-old girl and I aren’t that different after all.


Disclaimer: Consult your local sexual and reproductive health clinic or GP before going hormonal contraceptive free. The views espoused in this article are that of the author and not Lip Magazine.

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