I have come to view these monthly fun-rides as something akin to the popular televisual behemoth Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Every month (episode), I (Buffy) have to battle the terrifying prospect of unplanned pregnancy (a demon of some description). While some months this is merely a fleeting panic (run of the mill incompetent vampire), series openers and finales tend to feature some more daunting foe - a busted condom (The Master), exciting new symptoms which the internet says may denote pregnancy (Warren), or a tardy period (Adam). Some allies, such as the pill (Angel) turn on our heroine and become enemies (evil sex Angel/crippling mood swings and a complete lack of sex drive).
Episode 1, Series 1: our intrepid young warrior first encounters this deathly foe. Off falls the condom, fizz goes the spunk, 'yikes!' say the teenage fornicators. Luckily, she was on her way to the family GP anyway, and she's read her Sugar magazine and is thus armed with comprehensive knowledge of the wonders of the emergency contraceptive pill. "So I had a mishap today and need the morning after pill, and I'd also like to go on hormonal birth control," she says, briskly. Family GP gives her a sorrowful look and a twenty minute lecture on responsibility before finally doling out the goodies. Teenage Fornicators hold their respective breaths for three weeks and celebrate the late arrival of the scarlet tide with a couple of cans of bitter purloined from our heroine's mother's fridge.
Episode finale, Series 1: Have I mentioned how enthusiastically I support sex education in the Scouts? The problem is that penis-owners get a whole lot of schooling in how to put a condom on - but precious little in how to remove their rapidly detumescing member from the Shame Cave of their lady friend without said prophylactic falling off. In fairness, no one is at their most alert twenty seconds after orgasm, which is why we need to train people in the whole process, rehearse it, military-style, over and over until it's as instinctive as slapping your Oyster card on the barrier. You're not awake at 8am, but your inner autopilot knows how to get you on the tube.
Not being registered with a doctor, our jizz-filled heroine traipses to the nearest walk-in clinic, which happens to be the incredibly busy A&E department of her local hospital. (Hi, the Whittington! I NEVER WANT TO SEE YOU AGAIN.) She's called by one doctor who asks her why she didn't just go to the chemist and buy it over the counter (BECAUSE I DON'T HAVE THIRTY POUNDS, DICKWAD). She's called by another who hands her a cup and tells her to wee in it. She's called by a third doctor who finally gives her the prescription she so craves - and doesn't ask for the cup of wee. After a two hour wait at the pharmacy, she guzzles down a superdose of exciting hormones and considers hying her ass to a nunnery.
Episode 2, which should more properly be a one-off summer special, has been covered in excruciating detail here. To insufferably quote myself:
I remember lying in a grotty flat somewhere in South London while millions of industrious spermatozoa made their intrepid way towards my cervix, with the opening credits of Look Who’s Talking playing on a loop behind my eyelids. And I was terrified.Being in minimum wage employment by this point, our pregnancy-evading protagonist takes the executive decision to splurge a whole thirty pounds on getting emergency contraception over the counter. She calmly and confidently explains to the pharmacist what she needs. The pharmacist gasps, flusters, insists on taking her into a cupboard-like consulting room to hold her hand and tell her that she really should be more responsible and that this is actually a really big deal and that sex is not a casual thing. Through a combination of deep breaths and reminding herself that the sooner I get this damn pill, the sooner I can arrest the evil trajectory of the sperm invaders and get myself a really big egg sandwich, our heroine manages not to swear, punch the lady in the face, or say, "for fuck's sake, why is it that people always take the opportunity to lecture me on responsibility WHEN I AM DOING THE MOST RESPONSIBLE THING POSSIBLE? Would you rather I go home and cross my fingers for a month? No, you'd rather I never have sex with anyone, and I actually quite enjoy doing that, so GIVE ME THE MOTHERFUCKING PILL AND KEEP YOUR COMPLETELY IRRELEVANT OPINIONS TO YOURSELF." Admirable restraint, really.
Through a combination of stress and hormones and general freaking out, the sneaky Sacred Womyn Moon-Time hides out in the wings for an extra week, just to make us sweat. When day seven dawned without a shepherd's warning, our uterinely-challenged star took advantage of her mama's visit to beg for a £20 loan to buy a pregnancy test. The Unimaginably Excellent Mother held her 'third time lucky' daughter's hand while the latter whizzed on a stick and had the good taste to not even mention grandchildren.
Series 3, Episode 1: You guys, how much sex are people in south London having? We went to every single chemist in Elephant & Castle and it took six - six! - before we scored the very last dose of levonorgestrel to be found in the borough of Lambeth. In one of the many queues we languished in that day, I moaned about the obstructionist pharmacist you may remember from Season 2, along with Season 1's fan favourite doctors, and quite possible the very first responsibility lecturer from the very first episode of this deeply boring series. My gentleman paramour said, "Wow, you're making it sound like you do this every week."
Series 3, episode oh for fuck's sake: There was not even any reason for this one. I couldn't drink coffee for two days because it made me throw up. After Dr The Internet suggested that I was totally pregnant, I became hypersensitive to any weird symptoms my body felt like throwing at me - which, in your average week, is 'all of the weird symptoms'. Having spent three days emailing my long-suffering Heterosexual Lady Friend once an hour going BUT WHAT IF I AM, IT WOULD BE THE WORRRRST, I DO WANT KIDS BUT NOT NOW AND NOT HERE AND, OH, MY UTERUS JUST DID A WEIRD TINGLE, ARRRRGH, I am sure we'll all be very glad to welcome this morning's return of My Little Friend.
Seriously, you guys. I've been having sex with guys for ten years. That's 120 periods, 120 panics, 120 weeks of wondering 'when am I due again? WHAT IF IT WAS TODAY?'. I'm tired.
To return to our slightly tortured Buffy analogy, is there a way to defeat The Reason Evil (Pregnancy-Related Panic) Exists without resorting to abstinence or hysterectomy? Goddamn.