I wanted to know if you could give me some advice about having sex for one after a miscarriage. It’s been more than a year since I’ve been with anybody, and my relationship with the father of this child completely deteriorated long before the miscarriage.
Let me summarize by saying, he went to Mexico with another woman during a three day span where I miscarried, which was followed by health problems that added up to the worst year of my life. I saw three general practitioners, an ultrasound technician and a radiologist and all three ultrasounds showed a baby without a heartbeat and I was sent home to "wait."
A curette, otherwise known as a metal rod with a handle on one end and a sharp loop on the other, was inserted into my uterus, and used to scrape the lining of the uterus to remove its tissues from within. I cried until the anesthesia took hold and immediately resumed upon waking.
But it didn’t take long to realize why I felt a pad drenched in blood sticking between my thighs. I shifted my weight and realized that the amount of blood I felt was the kind that could only come from a woman’s reproductive organs. I was told to expect it to last for at least one week and to see my doctor within one month’s time for a follow up appointment, but instead I ended up spending more than six months having following up surgeries, treatments and blood transfusions.
At the height of all of this, I wasn't able to stand up, walk or shower by myself.
And, I didn’t know I could cry to the point that I wouldn’t be able to talk, walk or stand but I did. Each time I tried to stand up for weeks that followed, my body collapsed, my nose pressed against the floor and my hands covering my face as if I could hide from the terrible pain I felt and when I looked in the mirror, I didn’t recognize myself.
Several people have made similar remarks about my appearance since the surgery and they have continued to make comments about how much weight I lost, and how unhealthy I looked for the whole of last year. Now, I've finally gone back to a normal weight and have learned to cope with these problems through a wide range of tools, like meditation and counseling. But it's still hard to forget what it's like to have multiple blood transfusions, surgeries and more tests than you can imagine, especially when you face it alone.
My friends and family were not supportive at all, in fact, most of them stopped speaking to me when they found out I was pregnant because the man was twice my age. At the time, he was 44 and I was 23. No, to answer the question you're wondering, my family is not religious in any way. They just didn't like the age gap between us. It's not like you choose the person you fall in love with, though. I just wasn't lucky enough for it to last after he told me that he wanted to start a family with me. Guess he got spooked when it happened, which made it a lot harder to accept when it finally did happen.
In any case, I started attending counseling twice a week, which included trauma counseling. It helped, but I didn’t feel like moving forward with relationships of any kind even though I feel the urge to have sex now. I think my body has a memory of what happened, which the doctor has told me is highly probable following the trauma that I experienced both physically, emotionally and mentally.
To top it all off, there is permanent scarring left on my ovaries, which I’ve been told may cause some pain depending on how I move for the rest of my life. I’m writing to you, in addition to all of the help I have received from doctors, counselors and monastics, because I’ve read some of your books. I know you're not a doctor or a counselor, but I like the way you think about having a sexual relationship with yourself, and I had one from the time I read "Sex for One" at college until the miscarriage.
I lost the desire to even consider masturbation after I lost my child, which I suppose is a healthy and normal reaction, but it's been a long time and every counselor that I've seen has told me everything I feel is all very normal. It doesn't feel normal or healthy to me, which is why I started meditating.
I miss masturbation, and having fun with friends. I still don’t have a huge desire to see anybody or start dating anybody, but my desire to have safe sex and masturbate has returned. The problem, I have now, is a little strange to explain. I guess that’s what I’ve been building up to, or trying to build up to with all of this background information about my life.
I can’t get myself off with, or without toys, for the first time in my life. When I start to masturbate, I begin to feel guilty and remember all of these horrible experiences from the miscarriage (losing blood clots after the surgery on and off for at least six months) and healthcare providers (probing around, doing surgeries and a wide range of ultrasounds before/after the miscarriage).
I’ve tried to have flings, but found it was not beneficial to me mentally as it didn't feel like I was being respected. Alternatively, it made me feel guilty for moving on without the child and start crying. Yet, I crave the warm touch of someone who is nice to me. I crave pleasure through masturbation, and I have tried to masturbate on several occasions, just like I used to do on a daily basis, but when I slide my fingers inside, I feel sad and guilty.
Sometimes, I don’t have those feelings, but that tends to mean I still can’t get off because some of the memories I have are so strong and I was wondering if you could suggest how to cope with this range of feelings and still practice safe sex, or even sex for one without feeling like an empty women? It's hard to feel attractive when you're a single woman with stretch marks and no baby, but there has to be a way to do it. I know there has to be a solution towards wanting to have sex and feeling inept.
What about visualization? What about stimulation? Is there something I could try that might help relieve some of my stress and longing for something animal and physical, without adding to my emotional grief? I apologize for the length of my letter and its seriousness. I have been learning to cope with everything through meditation and counseling, but this is the one part of my life that I still struggle with. I even moved abroad to take a break from my career as a reporter in Canada, and heal my heart by working at a less stressful job as a teacher.
I would like to feel like I used to and return to the profession that I studied for when I figure out how to manage all of this. How can you have the desire to have sex without actually being able to get off for such a long amount of time? It seems impossible, and I would appreciate any information you can offer.
Look girlfriend, having an abortion or a miscarriage is just part of being a woman and it isn't easy for any of us. Back in the fifties, I had an old fashioned kitchen table illegal abortion with that same metal torture instrument you described that scraped out my uterus without any anesthesia. Yes, the pain is horrible. During my twenties, I passed blood clots and had horrible cramps with each period that sent me to bed with a heating pad every month. Finally in my mid-thirties my reproductive body seemed to settle down once I was having consistent orgasms with myself and an intelligent righteous lover.
You say that starting to masturbate or date "made me feel guilty for moving on without the child and start crying." You didn't have "a child" it was the potential for one. At the risk of sounding like I have no compassion for your situation, I'm going to suggest it's time for you to get over this. Forgive yourself for falling in love with such a shit heel, and for having a lousy family and friends who didn't give you any emotional support. The good news it that you are still young enough to have a baby later on when the timing is right and you're with a good person.
After all the positive work you've done to heal, now it's time to enjoy life again. That includes having orgasms first with yourself and then with some decent man or understanding woman. At this point I'd recommend you get a bottle of almond oil (GNC drugstores) a quality vibrator for clitoral stimulation and also the Magic Wand for massage. Everywhere you apply the vibrator, it brings a new supply of blood into any area that needs healing.
Eventually you will begin to have orgasms again but they will be the result of clitoral stimulation not putting your fingers inside your vagina. When the healing is further along, you might consider getting my Vaginal Bar Bell to tone your PC muscle. I look forward to your next email telling me you're once again orgasmic.
Dr. Betty (I'm a PhD sexologist)