Ask Ang November 5: Sexual Anxiety, IUD Bleeding, and Oral Reciprocity!
Welcome to Ask Ang, your anonymous campus sexual health resource, brought to you by H*yas for Choice. We are made up of a team of undergraduate students who work to answer your sex questions! We post questions and answers weekly on Sundays. Anyone can submit a question, and the anonymous form can be found here: www.tinyurl.com/askang.
cw: sexual coercion (question one)
1. Now that I'm in college and learning more about relationships, I'm realizing that my aversion to and anxiety about sex is probably due to a previous unhealthy relationship where my boyfriend (unsuccessfully) attempted to make me do sexual things I did not want to do. How can I overcome my fears about sex?
It’s great that you are able to reflect on your past sexual experiences to see that you want and deserve a healthy, fully consensual sex life. It sounds like trust played a big part in your relationship, and this is likely why you feel so anxious about sex now: you weren’t able to trust your partner in the past, so now it is difficult to trust anyone who might be your partner. Unfortunately, trust can be very difficult to build, so there won’t be any quick fixes. What you can do is try and start building trust with your community here at Georgetown. A completely random hookup might not be the best place to start, but that doesn’t mean you need to find a serious partner right away. Be it no interpersonal relationships, casual hookups, monogamy, polyamory, or anything else, there are all sorts of relationship configurations that might work for you!
Beyond figuring out healthier relationship configurations for you, you also need to figure out what you want sexually. If having sex with other people is what you’re looking for, it’s important to learn about your own body, so that you can better communicate to your partner(s) what does and doesn’t feel good. Exploring your own body is a great way to build confidence and trust with yourself, even if having sex isn’t what you want. But if masturbation isn’t your thing, it’s still super important to have a relationship with your own body built on comfort and respect, and not shame and fear.
Finally, it’s important to recognize that not all people want to engage in sex, and that is completely healthy and okay. If you feel that might be the case with you, check out this resource about the asexual spectrum. Whether you find yourself fitting into an ace identity or not, talking to a counselor at CAPS (Counseling and Psychiatric Services) can be very helpful for you to figure out how to move on from your unhealthy relationship and find comfort and happiness in your future relationships.
2. I got an IUD inserted a few months ago, and I’ve been bleeding heavily almost nonstop. My doctor said I could experience some bleeding, but it’s such a pain to deal with! Do you have any suggestions for how to deal with this?
IUDs may cause bleeding for up to six months following their insertion, but heavy bleeding after the first two months may be something you’ll want to follow up with your doc about. The copper IUD often causes heavier bleeding and/or cramping for women, so that could be the culprit.
According to Dr. Dr. Fahimeh Sasan, “too much bleeding would be if someone was soaking through four sanitary napkins in an hour.” So, if you’re experiencing this amount of bleeding--or feeling sharp, severe abdominal pain--you should definitely see a doctor right away.
Chances are, though your bleeding is normal, and there are several steps you can take to make it more bearable. First, a course of ibuprofen during your peak bleeding hours can sometimes help lessen the amount of flow. You can try using a menstrual cup (like the DivaCup) or menstrual disc (like Flex) instead of tampons or pads because they allow you to go longer before changing/emptying them. Finally, your doctor may be able to prescribe you birth control pills--although it sounds contradictory, taking oral contraceptives for a week or so can help regulate your bleeding until it evens out on its own.
With heavy bleeding, it’s important to be careful about your iron levels or you may become anemic. Eating iron-rich foods like sunflower seeds or red meat can help you manage your iron levels to avoid anemia. You might already be feeling anemic if you’ve been bleeding heavily long enough. Symptoms of anemia include fatigue, lightheadedness, and headaches. Again, your doctor could better help you determine if that’s where you’re at and where to go from there.
3. My boyfriend refuses to go down on me (I’m a cis woman). I like giving him blowjobs most of the time, but he’s come to expect them and it feels unfair because I want some head too!! What can I do to change his mind?
The most important thing to say is that it’s definitely unfair for your partner to expect unreciprocated oral without any explanation. Unfortunately, it’s going to require some emotional labor on your part to get him to change his act. The first thing to do if your partner refuses to go down on you, especially if you ask them directly, is to ask them why that’s the case. While none of these is a good excuses for not communicating with you, Bustle has some good ways to answer some of the common excuses.
Your partner may have been told by previous partners, for their own reasons, not to give head. If that’s the case, now they knows that your needs are different from others’.
Your partner might be inexperienced and scared of letting you down with a poor performance. Now they can learn from the best teacher about how to make you feel good: you.
There are also some pretty bad excuses they might give, like “it’s just weird,” "it tastes gross," or “I’m just not ready.” The thing about these responses is that they all apply to all kinds of oral sex. Giving head is a little weird, but getting, and giving, head feels good for a whole lot of people. Practicing improper hygiene can make any genitals gross, but it’s unreasonable to expect bodies to be odorless and tasteless. Finally, if your partner isn’t ready to give head, they shouldn’t be ready to receive it.
Hopefully these strategies help your partner understand your needs. The most important thing to communicate to your partner in a situation like this is that your body and your desires deserve respect. If your partner is not willing to respect you, they don’t deserve your respect in return.
That's all for this week, folks! Submit your questions anonymously at tinyurl.com/askang to be included in next week's edition.