Sex & Relationships

The First Time I Had Sex After an Abortion

Losing your virginity isn’t necessarily the biggest first in your life. Here, one woman shares her most significant sexual first

Two naked women on a purple background

(Art: Leo Tapel)

“I had been with my partner, who I’m still with, for a year and a half when I got pregnant. I was 23, I was on the birth control patch, and I actually got my period, but it was very light—it was different. I took a pregnancy test, and it was negative, but I just had this feeling that I was pregnant, so I took another one. The lines weren’t clear. Finally, I got a blood test done, and the clinic called when I was by myself in my apartment. I took less than an hour to make the decision, and then I called an abortion clinic. After that, I called my partner to tell him I was pregnant and that I had made the appointment.

I knew it was the right decision for me at that time, but I didn’t realize what the emotional recovery would be like. I felt so guilty. I had to rebuild my self-worth, and I had to forgive myself. We waited at least three months to have sex again, and having sex was definitely a step in the journey of forgiving myself. I felt like I—not that I didn’t deserve to enjoy sex again, but kind of.

I also was terrified of getting pregnant again. I think there was maybe a week where, every night, I thought, OK, maybe I can do this, maybe I can try to have sex, and then I wouldn’t. I had to give myself a little pep talk. Not having sex wasn’t anything my partner ever spoke about. I initiated it, and he didn’t seem to expect it, but he also didn’t act surprised. It was very tender, very gentle, and on my terms, which made it easier. But we used a condom as well as the patch.

When I got my period after we had sex again—relief doesn’t begin to describe it. After that, I still took three pregnancy tests a month for a year. I bought them relentlessly. I spent so much money. I would eat something and feel bad, and I’d think, Oh my god, I’m pregnant again. It felt like I couldn’t do anything without getting pregnant. Even to this day, I keep a box of pregnancy tests.

I don’t think I felt normal during sex for at least a year after the abortion. I could slip out of my head for a few moments during sex, but as soon as it was over, all I could think about was What if? I was consumed by what ifs. I think it was moving to another country five years ago that finally snapped me out of it. Everything back at home reminded me of my experience, so it was such a luxury that I was given a fresh start. It really felt like starting over in so many ways.”—As told to Danielle Groen

More firsts:

The First Time I Had Sex After Getting Sober
The First Time I Had Sex in My Correct Gender
The First Time I Had Sex After Opening Up My Relationship
The First Time I Had Sex After Giving Birth
The First Time I Had Sex After Being Assaulted
The First Time I Had Sex with Myself
The First Time I Had Sex After Major Surgery
The First Time I Had Sex After Coming Out
The First Time I Had Sex After My Marriage Ended