The 37 Year Old Virgin

>> Thursday, March 6, 2008


Guess what ladies? I’ve been fitted!

No, not for a beautiful gown, a pair of glittery heals, or a diamond tiara. Alas, those times have long passed. Instead, a 37 year-old married woman who's been on The Pill FOREVER and who has blood pressure concerns and migraines gets fitted for something even more spectacular: a diaphragm. (Prolonged birth control usage = Higher blood pressure + Migraines = Bad News)

It’s my first. In fact, you could say I’m a diaphragm virgin -- a phrase I actually used in the doctor’s office.

My doctor is a 55-60 year old male with a deep baritone voice that vibrates through walls. He sounds like a cross between Yogi Bear and Bing Crosby. If I care to, I can hear words and phrases coming from the next room as he talks to his other patients.

Yogi Bear says: “Take a deep breath in...”

Bing Crosby croons: “Bend over and cough...”

So talking with him about sex makes me a little light-headed and gives me a bad case of the giggles.

“Is it spontaneous?” asks Yogi Bear.

(giggle) “What?”

“Do you ever have spontaneous sex?”

“Well, yes. We never know when our girls are suddenly going to take a nap and we think ‘Hey, let’s do it now while we can.’ -- It’s spontaneous like that.”

He looks at me. “I mean, are you usually at home when you have sex -- as opposed to doing it in elevators or stair wells.”

“Oh. Yes. At home. The garage counts as home, too, right?”

He looks at me. Then Yogi Bear presents all of the non-hormonal options -- the ones that supposedly do not mess with my emotions or blood pressure.

“Condoms?” asks Yogi Bear.

“Uh, no. I’m more of a... people person, if you know what I mean.”

“Yea, me, too.”

We decide that IUDs are too invasive and risky (for me) and that a vasectomy is out (you know, because I'm a woman and because if we won the lottery tomorrow I might lose my mind and want to have another kid).

“So Diaphragms...” suggests Yogi Bear.

“How do they work?”

“First you take some spermacidal foam or gel and put it on the diaphragm,” explains Yogi Bear. He illustrates the procedure with gestures and diagrams, making ring shapes with his fingers, squeezing them together and forcing them up into an invisible vagina floating in midair.

“They come together?”

“What?” asks Yogi Bear.

“The spermacide and the diaphragm -- in the same package.”

“No, you buy them separately.”

“Wait -- the spermacide doesn’t come with the diaphragm? Shouldn’t they come together in some sort of kit? I mean, why make it difficult?”

Yogi Bear looks confused.

See, at the time I’m thinking a diaphragm is disposable like a condom and that I would buy a whole stack of them in boxes of ten or twenty -- kind of like chips inside a can of Pringles. Time for sex? Just pop-the-top! Once you pop, you just can't stop!

He continues, “Sooo... you put the foam on it, fold it, insert it into the vagina and it expands to cover the cervix.”

“Kind of like a pop-tent!” I exclaim eagerly like a fifth grader trying to impress her teacher.

“Something like that.”

“Where do I get diaphragms?” Costco, right?

“First you have to be fitted. They come in different sizes. We measure your cervix to determine the correct size and fit.”

Sort of like contact lenses, I’m thinking. They determine my prescription, and then I order a new set of disposables through the mail every month or two...

“Afterwards you wash it so you can use it again.”

Use it again? Slowly, I hear a distant sound -- like tiny little bells that chime louder and louder until...

“Wait -- I only need one diaphragm?

Ding, ding, ding! She wins the prize!

“Yes. I write a prescription for it.”

Oh, ha, ha. I knew that.

“Actually,” Yogi Bear continues, “I’ll prescribe two -- in case you want to keep one in the glove compartment.”

Can I jump through the window, now?

“Are you sure it’s not going to be a huge pain? You know, awkward?” This whole thing is starting to make me nervous. Sex for parents is hard enough -- I don’t want to make it more difficult. I mean, wouldn’t parental sex be better if everything came in a kit -- diaphragm, spermacide, babysitter?

“Well, it will be awkward the first time.”

“Yea. I guess so. And then, after that I’ll get better?”

“Yes,” reassures Yogi Bear.

“Then, pretty soon it’ll be like a magic trick, right? 'Notice, there's nothing up my sleeves.' Then voila! It disappears!”

Yogi Bear chuckles and shakes his head as he leaves the room to schedule my fitting.

I return the following week, nervous and full of teenaged anxiety because this is completely new to me. I try to embrace this virginal naivety that doesn’t occur very often for married mothers, but I know I won’t feel better until I’ve practiced and perfected the magical diaphragm disappearing act. (I bet David Blaine never did anything like this before.)

Everything goes as well as can be expected during my exam and fitting. My “size” is on the small-side and I have to admit that I take a bizarre pride in this fact -- as if I had anything to do with it or that it means anything. But after two children and 16 years of marital sex, I feared my doctor would have to return to the diaphragm storage closet. Here, let me get the jumbos...

Now, of course, I have to do the work -- there is all this practice I need. But first, perhaps I should check out Wikipedia or (dare I say it?) YouTube? Because hand gestures and vivid descriptions from Yogi Bear are one thing, but I need more information. Why couldn’t they give me a pamphlet or book ("How to Erect Your Pop-Tent”). Or maybe a video? Why do they have to make it difficult? I mean, wouldn’t it be better if everything came in a kit.


Nicole March 6, 2008 at 4:47 PM  

OMG - I cannot believe that (1) you are open enough to talk to your doctor like that and (2) that you're open enough to blog like that. Oh, wait. I've been reading your blog long enough that I shouldn't be shocked!

Thanks for the good post-dinner-almost-spit-it-back-up laugh.

Rima March 6, 2008 at 5:15 PM  

I applaud your decision and hope for updates because I've always been totally mystified by the whole diaphragm deal. Also? I think you probably made Yogi's day.

Jessie March 6, 2008 at 6:43 PM  

I dont think it's you, I think that diaphragms just make for funny stories. I read on another blog about how the girl went to a "group fitting" or possibly a group instruction on how to use it, and they all had mirrors, and they were trying to insert them, and someone farted and they all completely lost it.

Melissa March 6, 2008 at 8:44 PM  

OMG, Jessie -- a "group fitting"?! That's beyond my imagination. I'm just not that hip. Really. Not that hip.

Michele March 7, 2008 at 6:00 AM  

OK Melissa, you've just given me a good solid reason to be happy we're trying to get pregnant. I've been so depressed because it will be one year next month since we've been trying to have another baby... which really made me sad and defeated until I read your blog ... guess what, I haven't had to think about birth control for a year! Life is good. Oh, but good luck with your diaphragm : )

Dating Trooper - Dating is Warfare March 7, 2008 at 11:53 AM  

Yeah, diaphrams always seemed so old-fashioned sounding - like what my older cousins would have used when having permiscuious sex in the early 80s before they knew they had to worry about HIV. After reading your blog entry, they still sound old fashioned.

I think there needs to be some serious advancements in new non-hormonal methods of b.c. control. Maybe something the MEN have to insert in one of their orifices??? But they can't even be trusted make their own doctor appts, so I doubt they'd be reliable with that...

Dawn March 7, 2008 at 12:08 PM  

You know I just love your posts, but this one is at the top.
Honestly, diaphragms completely weird me out. Taking it out and washing it afterwards? Really? Not sure if I can do it.
I did have an IUD before the surrogacy thing started and since then HH has a had a vasectomy because we're done. If we do decide to have more kids, we'll adopt. But that's IF.
Thanks for the great laugh. Seriously, thank you.

debawriter March 7, 2008 at 2:35 PM  

I could never do the diaphragm thing. I was always afraid that I couldn't get it out afterward.

Like when my friend in college had sex and afterward, couldn't find the condom her b-friend had been wearing.

She peed it out a week later.



Lucy March 9, 2008 at 7:05 PM  

and that's why i have ONLY gone to women gynos for the past 40 years!! could not *bear* to go through that w. a man -- a man not my lover....

actually i used a diaphragm betw the time i decided i wanted to get off the pill [to lose weight] and the time i began trying to get pregnant. i found it a mess -- not so easy to get in, gooey, messy to get out, inconvenient etc. it was so difficult for me to get pregnant that i realized i didn't need to use any birth control, so i never did again. and now, of course, i'm Too Old To Need Any.

so good luck with it....hope you can manage better than i did. i had to carry around cornstarch to clean it with. at least, that's what you were supposed to use 25 years ago!

Anonymous,  June 21, 2008 at 9:11 PM  

Hi there - I was so glad to see your post! I have a diaphragm too and I'm just now getting used to it. I got it in February - so for me its been 4 awkward months. I feel like i have just now gotten to the point where I can put it in on the first ( or second try).

But the awkwardness is worth it for me because I am one of those people who can't tolerate the b/c hormones. I had an iud but that just didn't work out for me. So this was my 2nd choice.

It is a little old fashioned but hey, tried and true is good!

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