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I was instructed to not have sex while my warts were healing, which I thought was hilarious.
Who on earth, I wondered, would try to have sex in this state?
I knew very little about sexual health or my own body at that point, but I knew enough to know that this was no good.
I was 23, and in the midst of what a polite person might have called "sowing my wild oats," but which I thought of as "touching as many penises as I could find." I'd finally extricated myself from the messed-up, controlling relationship that I'd spent all of college floundering around in, I'd moved to a new city, and I was finding that my favorite place to learn more about myself was on top of someone else's naked body.
I burst into tears, then took a cab I couldn't afford back to my house because the idea of making eye contact with another human being on the bus felt overwhelming. After my doctor burned off my first round of warts with nitrogen, I obsessively monitored their healing, kneeling over a hand mirror in my bathroom for hours every night to analyze the tiny scabs.
I begged off parties and social interactions to prop my legs up on some pillows and scrutinize my lady bits.
It started with a weird feeling in my vulva (you'll notice that no good story ever begins with the phrase "weird feeling in my vulva").
I thought at the time that it was easy for her to say. After being on constant vag watch until well into the following spring, I finally felt relaxed enough to try dating again.It lent the entire situation a sort of surreal edge.I begged my doctor more and more for reassurance — that it would end, that there would be a certain point where I wouldn't infect partners anymore — which she said she couldn't give.She was very sexually conservative, someone who had always raised an eyebrow at the way I approached my sex life.
As she hugged me that night, I thought: "She is right and I am wrong.
I pictured myself being able to tell a partner about that and have him still want me.