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'I'm Genuinely Afraid to Have Sex': Where Roe v. Wade Meets Anxiety

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Editor's Note

If you’ve experienced sexual abuse or assault, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact The National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 1-800-656-4673.

In 2016 when a new president was elected, I cried for multiple reasons, partially because I was fearful of the day Roe v. Wade would be challenged and taken away from us. Now, with a third of the Supreme Court being that president’s pick, the time has potentially come. On May 2, 2022, Politico leaked an opinion draft stating the Supreme Court was planning to recall Roe v. Wade, meaning that not just my reproductive rights were in jeopardy, but my entire approach to sex and intimacy would directly be challenged as well. (Source: Politico)

I grew up in a household where my mother never withheld information about sex and intimacy. I learned about contraception, bodily functions, fluids, and ultimately what it means to practice safe sex not just physically, but also emotionally. As soon as I turned eighteen, she put me on birth control (with my consent) and I’ve been on it ever since. 

I learned that sex can indeed be fun, but a lot of negative (and potentially deadly) things can come from it as well even when you are practicing safe sex. For someone as anxious and paranoid as me, that means that sometimes it’s all I could think about before, during, and after intimacy. The debilitating anxiety of “What if I contract a disease or infection,” or “What if they lie and stealth and I get taken advantage of,” led me to a few years of subconscious abstinence. The only thought that didn’t scare me was, “What happens if I get pregnant?” because I knew at the end of the day that abortion was a safe option available to me if I chose to not have a child. Now that Roe v. Wade could potentially be recalled, that safeguard may disappear.

Yes, condoms, spermicide and birth control exist, but dear reader, I’d love to introduce you to this lovely thing called anxiety. If you’ve never heard of it, The Mighty has a large collection of stories detailing what it’s like to live with different anxiety disorders. 

I’ve already spent a large portion of my adult life catastrophizing about sex and intimacy, these “what if’s” serving as the soundtrack to any night I’ve spent with another lover to the extent that very rarely can I get out of my head. Knowing that one of the only solutions I could control is potentially being taken from me makes me terrified to engage in any sexual situation until I know I want children, which quite frankly, ain’t it. 

I’m genuinely afraid to have sex, and now my therapist is going to have to hear all about it.


Having the right to a safe abortion positively impacts everyone. Having that right taken from us negatively impacts many, but disproportionately people with uteri, and even more so marginalized populations within that group with Black women dying at 2.9 times the rate of white women. (Source: Reuters) 

I’m a Black woman with a uterus. Having a consensual planned pregnancy could still kill me. Knowing that if it’s any part nonconsensual or unplanned means I’d have to put my body through all the changes that come with pregnancy, potentially risk my life, then pay thousands (and usually more) that I do not have only to go through the trauma associated with giving the child away when I wouldn’t want to, or adversely losing this part of my life that is mine and no one else’s because I have to put on “Cocomelon” for a baby because I did decide to keep it immediately makes my chest feel tight and brings tears to my eyes.  

A lot of people’s lives have been positively impacted by having an unplanned baby and I love that for them, but that’s not me. That’s not where I am in life, and I don’t plan to be there for years.

I’m afraid to even talk to someone now on the off chance that it domino effect into some horizontal dancing because I know if something goes wrong, I’m screwed (baduntss), and to be clear this isn’t an “us” problem. There are ways to approach intimacy safely and have safeguards still in place. This is a “me” problem. Yes, these hits to reproductive rights will create complications for people all around, but in no way is the government telling us to not engage in funny business. That’s me, my anxiety, my fears, and also my own trauma that I now have to work through. I’m genuinely afraid to have sex, and now my therapist is going to have to hear all about it.

This is a blow to people with uteri everywhere, but the direct cause and effect that it’s having on my mental health and personal choices isn’t fair or right. 

Getty image by Jasmin Merdan

Originally published: May 5, 2022
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