Illustrations by Janet Mac
Abortion can be painful or mundane in more ways than one. And for some, sex and intimacy after an abortion can be emotionally or physically painful. For others it is no different than before.
In light of recent legislature, we asked our community to share their post-abortion stories, and we compiled them below. These stories will help us all gain a better understanding of the nuances concerning abortion and the way it can affect our sex lives. The question posed was, “In your own words, what was your sex life like after an abortion?” Some who answered wished for anonymity, thus their names have been withheld. Nevertheless, all the stories below are from real humans in our community who have experienced abortion firsthand.
“I was apprehensive. I was scared, not of the sex itself but of the very real consequences I now had first hand experience with. I never felt ashamed or broken. I never regretted my decision. I was 15 years old and I chalked it up to a hard-learned life lesson. I got on the pill and after a few months I felt confident enough in its contraceptive abilities to start having sex again.
If the abortion had any impact on my sex life, it was to bring the threat of pregnancy from an abstract idea to a very firm reality. It made me more aware of changes to my monthly cycles. It made me want to better understand my body. It pushed me to learn about birth control and find the method that works best for me.”
“If the abortion had any impact on my sex life, it was to bring the threat of pregnancy from an abstract idea to a very firm reality.”
“Honestly, for a long time, I didn’t have a sex life. I was confused about who I was, and how a part of my body I now felt so distant from and anxious about could provide me with pleasure. I didn’t have penetrative sex with my partner for a long time after it happened. Eventually, it led us to open up our relationship, which was actually a wonderful growth experience for us both, but two years have gone by now and it’s still painful to think about.”
“A month after my abortion, I felt ready to be sexual with my partner as I was feeling myself again. One night I came on to my partner and was rejected as he stated that he still wasn’t ready to be sexually intimate. It was a blow to my self esteem but overall really shocking and painful to hear. To an extent I understand where he was coming from, abortion can be traumatic for everyone involved. However, that night I was so upset I ended things on the spot. I felt strangely at peace with the decision. After the break up I had a few hook ups and unfortunately was not using protection, i’m not exactly sure why. A year later I finally got an IUD (hallelujah).”
“My boyfriend at the time was an angel. He was there through it all while being unbelievably supportive and patient. He should seriously be an abortion doula.”
“I couldn't have penetrative sex for a solid 2 months after my abortion. At about 7 weeks pregnant, I was able to take the abortion pills, but had some blood clots that were causing me to spot in the following weeks. To have them removed, the clinicians basically had to perform a surgical abortion (dilating my cervix and inserting the suction tool to clear out my uterus of the two blood clots). Emotionally, I was fine, relieved and ready to move on, but the physical pain from both of my abortion experiences were absolutely excruciating, so it took a while for my body to recover and feel healed and safe again. In retrospect, I definitely had vaginismus.
My boyfriend at the time was an angel. He was there through it all while being unbelievably supportive and patient. He should seriously be an abortion doula lol. My abortion actually brought us closer and established a whole new layer of trust and emotional intimacy that ran deep. I was extremely cautious when I could finally have sex again-- I even had my boyfriend pull out while wearing a condom because I was so paranoid. Since then, I have been pretty vigilant about making sure that a condom is used constantly and correctly because don't think I could handle the physical pain again. Condom negotiation isn't always easy, but I do have flashbacks when I'm getting lazy with condoms and that's sobering. I was 21, halfway through college, and in a serious relationship when I had my abortion in 2015. Since then, I always make sure to keep a pack of Ella in my dresser just in case!”
“Cautious. I fell pregnant a year after we got married. I’ve never liked being on the pill, and he didn’t like wearing condoms. Now, 10 years down the line, we’ve never had another accident because we do the good ol’ withdrawal method. Sometimes though, I wish it wasn’t this way. I’ve tried an IUD but my body rejected it. Next step is for my husband to have a vasectomy so we can lose ourselves in the moment without worrying about the consequences. I think that’ll be life changing.”
“After I had my abortion, which was by the way super painful, my boyfriend was very anxious about our sexuality, so was I. We had and still have a hard time not associating it to the pain, physical and emotional, of the abortion. I had been quite vocal about the fact that it was him finishing inside which had created this whole situation and it created a lot of tension in our couple, I also asked for him to pay the costs of the abortion, which he did. I think I did him a favor confronting him with his responsibilities but I sometimes regret it. He can no longer finish inside me.
Only lately and through therapy have we been able to talk about it and process all the emotions the abortion created and it’s getting better and better. However, we still haven’t found a good contraception method in which I don’t have to give up my bodily and mental health. For now we use a condom. Even if we do it thoroughly it is still a hassle and can be very stressful, as well as, not completely satisfying for him. So we’re still looking for a solution if anyone has one just let Dame know and I’ll read it on their blog.”
“At 30 years old and as a single female, I could not find a doctor willing to tie my tubes. I was told I wasn't old enough to decide not to have children.”
“Sex life after my abortion has been stressed at best with the father of the baby. We were dating at the time and had condom failure. Married a year or so after the pregnancy was ended and have been married nineteen years now. At 30 years old and as a single female, I could not find a doctor willing to tie my tubes. I was told I wasn't old enough to decide not to have children. My 29 year old boyfriend then/husband now got a vasectomy with no problem. I was not ready to be a parent and was not financially sound enough to do it right. I don't enjoy sex with him now. I don't seek it out with him. I don't enjoy his touch. We are essentially roommates now. [It’s| kinda lonely."