By: Radhika Sanghani

I died.

Am I sexually active?

I couldn’t even talk to my friends about just how un-sexually active I was, let alone Dr. E. Bowers. Someone who wore glasses with no frames was never going to understand how traumatic it was to be a final-year student who had never had sex. I bet she lost hers through a hole in a bedsheet like they did in the Middle Ages. She stared into my eyes as though she could read my mind. I felt my body perspiring. I wished I’d worn a black top.

I fidgeted in my seat. “Oh right, well, I’m actually not really very sexually active so . . . I didn’t bother filling in that section. I’m not pregnant, never have been and never will be at this rate!”

Her lips stayed in a thin line and she blinked her anemic-looking eyes at me.

I made a mental note to stop trying to distract her with failed attempts at humor and quickly added, “Honestly, I definitely don’t have any STDs or anything. It’s completely impossible.”

“Ah, so you’ve been tested recently for chlamydia and so on?” she asked.

“Well . . . no. I just can’t have chlamydia. I’m . . . well, I’m a . . . I mean . . .” My voice broke and my words trailed into silence. I couldn’t bring myself to say the word out loud. My best friends grew up just knowing this stuff and I’d spent the last three years hiding it from everyone I’d met at uni. I opened my mouth to try again but no words came out.

“Yes?” Dr. E. Bowers blinked and looked directly at me. “You’re a . . . ?”

“I’m a v . . . a vi . . .” Great. On top of everything, I’d managed to develop a stutter.

I took a big breath and tried again. This time the words tumbled straight out of me. “I’ve never had sex before so I can’t have any STIs. Or STDs. Well, neither.”

She blinked again. “But you are sexually active?”

Um. Does one failed attempt at a blow job and a few fingers jabbing into my vagina count as being sexually active?

“I don’t know,” I replied miserably. “I mean, I’ve never had sex but I’ve kind of been to third base.”

She sighed. “Ms. Kolstakis, are you sexually active or not? This is a confidential space. I just need to know whether or not to give you a chlamydia test.”

My stomach plummeted straight down into my Keds, taking my jaw with it. My own doctor didn’t believe I was a virgin. “No! I’m telling the truth, honestly. I’ve never had sex. I don’t need a chlamydia test.”

She squinted at me as though she was looking for any traces of a postcoital glow on my face. “Do you have a boyfriend at the moment?” she finally asked.

I lowered my eyes in shame. What kind of student was I, who had never had a boyfriend and was unable to answer a single question about sex when I was in my sexual prime?

“No,” I mumbled.

She turned to her screen and scrolled up without warning. I started in panic as the six letters emerged on the monitor. I threw my hands up to my face, shielding my eyes from the V-word.

She sat looking at the screen for twenty-seven seconds before she clicked it away and turned back towards me. Slowly, I lowered my hands from my flushed face.

She looked at me with something resembling pity. “Right, then, Ms. Kolstakis, I’m going to give you this chlamydia test to do at home. It is self-explanatory, but essentially you just use the cotton bud to swab your vagina and mail it to the address in the pack. You should hear within a couple of weeks. Is that all right?”

I stared at her with my mouth gaping open. “I . . . What?! I just told you that I’ve never had sex—why do I need a test?” I cried out.

“We offer free chlamydia tests for everyone over the age of twenty-one who is sexually active or has been in close contact with someone else’s genitalia.”

“But you know I’m not actually sexually active.” I blushed furiously. “I have never been, well . . . penetrated.” I stumbled over the last word.

Dr. E. Bowers raised her eyeballs to the ceiling. “Ms. Kolstakis,” she said, “I am now well aware that you are a virgin. However, I advise that you take this free test I am offering you to ensure that you do not have chlamydia. It is still possible—though very rare—to catch it in other ways.”

“But what other ways? Surely fingers can’t give you chlamydia?” I blurted out.

“No, they cannot. However, you can catch it from oral sex or if a penis has been around your vagina, even without penetration.”

How Dr. E. Bowers knew that James Martell’s penis had touched my VJ but never actually gone in, I will never know. I stared at her mutely, impressed for the first time by her medical abilities.

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