Have you ever had your life flash before your eyes? I have.
Well, more specifically, my sex life.
It happened while lying back on a cold latex mattress as a GP peered beneath a sheath of surgical cloth draped over my pelvis.
“Ahhh, yes. I see what you mean. It looks inflamed,” he noted.
This is not how I planned today would go.
My new squeeze was already on her way to see me, having made most of the trek from Orange to Sydney.
We’d met on Tinder when I was what they call, a “baby gay” – still green to same-sex dating, and wildly naive about the world of heartache I was about to enter.
As someone who spent my twenties and early thirties convinced I was emotionally cold on account of never crying over a break-up, I’d learn this was one of many overlooked signs I was in fact gay and extremely able to be wounded; when it was by another woman.
But I digress.
She was a fly-in-fly-out miner who faced her own mortality half the month, navigating excavators hundreds of metres underground, and spent the other two weeks in Sydney.
The sex was, quite simply, life-changing. Like seeing the world in full colour for the first time.
I savoured every moment as though it were the first bite of a delicious meal.
“Okay, I get it now. You’re gay. You’re VERY gay!” she’d laughed the first time we slept together; having remarked I struck her as “a straight girl, experimenting” when we initially matched.
It was fast and frivolous, but I fell crushingly, embarrassingly in love.
Something no one tells you about coming out much later in life is that it essentially thrusts you back into adolescence.
I’ve since discovered an entire community of self-confessed “late-bloomer lesbians” via TikTok who confirm the existence of this phenomenon.
Ranging from their early thirties to fifties, they’re women who, like me, had relationships with men for decades before coming to terms with their queerness. And you could be forgiven for mistaking them for a bunch of teen girls hopped up on puberty hormones; giddily lip-synching to love songs and spouting angsty monologues about their insatiable sex drives.
It would all seem terribly cringe-worthy if I hadn’t experienced it myself.
“It’s like a second puberty,” a fellow late-bloomer explained to me.
“Because you never really had one if you came out later in life. We (late-bloomers) spent our teens trying to fit into the box of liking boys and having sex we didn’t love. Then you allow yourself to have crushes on women and sleep with them and you can’t get enough. You’re almost making up for lost time.”
Indeed, during my first girlfriend’s visits to Sydney, we did very little else than make up for lost time.
And when she returned to the mine, I found myself like one of the TikTok late-bloomer lesbians – our last encounter playing on an enticing loop in my brain, my vibrator suddenly requiring frequent recharging.
Unfortunately, something else no one tells you about coming out later in life, is that there’s such a thing as overstimulation.
I was accustomed to sporadic solo sex prior to this point, and the kind of partnered sex straight women are most familiar with: penetration-focused.
But my second wind of puberty, coupled with the distinctly inverse dynamic of sex with another woman, meant the typically underacknowledged part of my vulva moved from a supporting character to a leading role overnight.
A role it was, evidently, unprepared for.
Because it was just a couple of weeks into our budding romance, I felt a sudden surge of pain in my pelvis.
“It’s probably just an easily treatable STI,” a friend reassured me on the phone.
“Everyone gets one at some point. Go to the doctor and get it looked at. But in the meantime, you should probably avoid sex and tell your girlfriend,” she added.
As someone who’s particular about seeing the same female GP, I typically book my appointments days ahead. But with my new squeeze already halfway to Sydney and the possibility of abstinence and an awkward conversation looming, I abandoned protocol and panic-booked with the only available doctor that afternoon.
An hour later, I was detailing my phantom pain to a male GP who looked suspiciously young to have graduated medical school.
“Okay, well there are no female doctors who can look at it today, so would you like me to book you in with one in the morning?” he asked, looking down at a stack of notes in front of him, as though trying to avert my gaze.
“No. I need it looked at right now,” I urged, spontaneously losing all decorum, and beginning to tug at my jeans zipper in desperation for an answer.
“Uh, okay. Let me duck out and grab a female nurse to be present. You can hop on the bed while I’m go – ah, yes. Do that,” he started, noticing I’d already shamelessly wriggled out of my jeans and lunged onto the bed.
“We’ll run your blood and urine now, but the good news is, this doesn’t appear to be an STI,” he remarked some moments later, from the end of the bed.
“How could that be?!” I protested, recalling a Google search I’d conducted earlier that suggested I had a rare, potentially incurable infection.
“I’m pretty sure you’ve just, uh – ” He paused to clear his throat awkwardly.
“You’ve overstimulated your clitoris. Give the vibrator a rest for a few days, and perhaps find some other things to do with your partner,” he finally finished, appearing relieved to have gotten the words out.
“Are you sure? Can you take another look?” I persisted, throwing off the modesty cloth so he could view my predicament more clearly – any sense of demureness reserved for such an occasion now long gone.
“I’m sure,” he rebutted, pulling the curtain around me abruptly.
He was right.
A few hours after my girlfriend arrived in Sydney, my results came back negative, and after a few days’ rest, my vulva felt back to normal, too.
Though it’s been more than a year since I last saw her, I still think fondly of my first girlfriend and the world of sexual possibility our romance unlocked in me, as well as the lessons I gleaned from it.
Arguably the most important one being, that, as it turns out, I’m not immune to heartbreak. All those movie scenes of women crying into tubs of Ben & Jerry’s while listening to sad songs really are accurate.
Also, queer sex doesn’t have a set endpoint, which is why, as a general rule, you should always stock Gatorade when your long-distance girlfriend is in town.
And that second wave of puberty? It hits hard. So go easy on the vibrator and passion-filled all-nighters – unless you want to have your entire sex life flash before your eyes in a doctor’s office.
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