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Stoya writes on www.vice.com – A few months ago someone asked me how porn chicks avoid getting pregnant. I rolled my eyes and thought “Duh, the same ways all chicks avoid getting pregnant.”
My sarcastic response wasn’t worth the energy it would have taken to type into Twitter and send. A week or so later someone asked the same question at a Q & A panel during an adult convention called Exxxotica.
Over the next couple of months more people asked via Twitter and Tumblr. One of my co-workers, Kayden Kross, brought up the fact that she’d been receiving questions about birth control as well. Neither of us remembered pregnancy on porn sets being a subject of public curiosity in previous years. Maybe all the public discussion of Measure B (the condoms in porn law) sparked the interest. So, without the sarcasm, let’s talk about birth control.
I’m not a doctor, but I’m pretty sure that you can’t get pregnant if you’re completely abstinent. There’s that whole Virgin Mary thing, but if I start factoring in acts of God the topic gets too wacky to wrap my head around.
I’m also pretty sure you can’t get pregnant if you stick to masturbation, are a woman who only has sex with women, or have sex in other ways that completely avoids any vaginal contact with semen. However, if you are engaging in penis-in-vagina penetrative sex or moving hands back and forth between penises and vaginas, pregnancy is a risk that needs to be managed. This handy chart provided by the US Government can fill you in on the various types of birth control available.
Making hardcore porn involves showing everything possible to the camera, including the male ejaculation. We call this the pop shot, and the male performer(s) usually pop on the face, breasts, ass, or stomach.
There are a couple of exceptions, but for the most part we don’t use condoms in pornographic films. There’s still a possibility of a sperm reaching an egg, but I’m pretty sure it’s lower than if they drive their cock deep into your pussy and jizz right up next to your cervix.
By avoiding internal ejaculation or “cream pie” (does that phrase gross anyone else out?) scenes, using condoms for the most part off set, and general luck, I’ve been pretty successful at avoiding pregnancy.
Spermicide makes me itch like crazy, which rules out the sponge, diaphragm, cervical cap and shield. I do enjoy the mental picture of my cervix wearing a jaunty hat. Ideally I’d be on some kind of hormonal birth control, but as I’m about to explain, the Pill and I don’t seem to get along well.
My periods have always been pretty horrific. They are extremely painful, usually involve migraines, and are irregular. In my early teens my gynecologist had me try a couple of different types of the Pill to see if we could regulate some of those problems but the side effects were so bad that we decided I was better off without them. When I started performing in sex scenes with men, I figured I should give hormonal birth control another try. It’d been a few years since the last experiment. I was older. I hoped my body would be able to handle it better.
The thing about hormonal birth control is that you have to keep trying different types until you find what’s right for you. Or at least that’s what doctors say. They also say that you have to give it 3-6 months for your body to adjust.
Four months into taking Yaz I was miserable. I bled profusely the whole time. Instead of migraines once or twice a month, I had them multiple times a week. I had intense mood swings and was constantly dizzy.
I had planned on giving it another one or two months in the hopes that my body would adjust, and then I fainted while waiting in line at the bank. I woke up on the floor. One of the people standing around me said they had called an ambulance.
Passing out and hitting the floor in broad daylight was embarrassing. Worse, I didn’t have health insurance and couldn’t afford to pay for a trip to the hospital, so I picked myself up and ran out of the building. I stopped taking the pills and still refuse to go back to that bank.
Four years went by before I was ready to give the Pill another shot. That time it was Ortho Tri-cyclen Lo. Again, I was dizzy all the time, had migraines, excessive bleeding, and mood swings. I couldn’t take a joke. My roommate remarked that maybe the reason the Pill prevented pregnancy so well was that no one wanted to be around me long enough to have sex. I broke out in a rash which turned out to be shingles. My doctor and dermatologist said that it was a coincidence, but still… My experiment with Ortho Tri-Cyclen Lo lasted three months. I gave my body the rest of the year to balance back out.
In the beginning of January my doctor suggested I try Loestrin 24Fe. The first couple of weeks went by pretty normally. Sixteen days in, I started bleeding. Technically, no matter how much blood there is, the medical types call this “spotting.” I think applying the word spotting to a situation where there’s enough blood that a tampon, sponge, or maxi pad needs to be changed every three hours is dismissive. This bleeding/spotting/near hemorrhaging continued until day thirty-two.
My blood smelled different. It didn’t smell like menstrual blood, or like blood from a wound. I wasn’t sure if the blood itself smelled different or if my sense of smell had changed because of the hormones.
I started smelling everything. I smelled the cat. I smelled various parts of Daddy (my boyfriend). I used to love strawberry flavored yogurt but now the scent makes my stomach turn. On the way up to Playboy radio with Kayden to do a guest appearance on her Krossfire show I asked everyone to be quiet so I could focus on sniffing the elevator wall.
I think the wood in the elevator of the Playboy building has always smelled odd though. I squeezed a pimple in the bathroom of the Burbank airport and the pus smelled weird. Then I wondered if the goo that collects in the holes from my old nipple piercings smelled any different. A woman walked in and caught me standing at the counter with one breast out, smelling my fingers.
One evening I started crying quietly, little tears dripping out of my eyes and rolling down my cheeks. Someone asked what was wrong. I replied “Nothing” and then sobbed inconsolably for a solid ten minutes purely because of the fact that I’d been crying about nothing.
Somewhere between pill number twenty and pill number twenty-five, I spent a whole two days feeling fat. I was fully aware the entire time that it was completely illogical for me to feel fat. I weighed the same as I did in December. My clothing still fit the same. I told Daddy I felt fat and he told me that was crazy, at which point I started sobbing (again) because the way that my feelings were refusing to line up with visible fact was making me feel crazy.
On day twenty-nine my breasts started to hurt. A couple of days later I noticed that I actually filled out my bras. This was really exciting since I now needed to wear said bras to keep my breasts from bouncing when I walked and hurting more. They were by no means giant hooters, but they were noticeably fuller which was pretty cool. Less cool was the part where I couldn’t get a pen out of the small pocket in my purse and ended up standing alone in my apartment screeching about the injustice of non-functional pockets in womens’ clothing and accessories. There was also the ingrown hair mishap.
Cut to day thirty-eight, on which dragging myself out of bed was a herculean effort and the idea of showering or brushing my teeth was beyond my abilities. Everything felt tragic and hopeless. I was a useless sack of human flesh, incapable of writing a rent check without a melodramatic pen incident, much less a blog post. The most productive thing I’d done in weeks was ponder the smell of a wall and a half eaten cookie. My only redeeming qualities were my left and right tits, which weren’t even that cool compared to the rest of the tits in the world.
I felt insane, and the distress was further complicated by a bastardization of Heller’s Catch-22: If you’re self aware enough to think you might have lost your mind, you obviously still have it. I started to think hormonal birth control was a patriarchal plot to keep women down by rendering us completely looney. The words “How can we ever break the glass ceiling if we can’t stop crying and being revolted by every day food items?” actually came out of my mouth.
It’s day forty-one now. I still feel nuts but I have a column to submit and I’m sure there’s something in the house that I haven’t thoroughly sniffed yet. But hey… at least this B cup kind of fits.