Earlier this week, Michelle Barrow made headlines when she revealed (exclusively to XOJane) that she’d gotten cat hair tangled in her IUD due to both the vigorous thrusting of her partner and the fact that her bed was lightly covered in cat hair. Is this possible, everyone on the internet wondered; Is a hair ball waiting to infiltrate my own spongy orifices? We needed to know, so we consulted with medical experts.
If you haven’t read Barrow’s story, you should check it out here. It’s a long (but satisfying!) read that’s at once both disgusting and refreshingly informative. How else would we know about the important issue of cat hairs masquerading as tampon fibers deep in the cooter if someone didn’t overshare on the internet? That’s right! We wouldn’t! And we also wouldn’t have excerpts like this to share with our friends and loved ones this Labor Day weekend:
The doctor leans back and asks, “So do you wanna see the tampon?” There is absolutely nothing I love more than getting gross things out of my body so duuuuh!
With her tweezers she holds up a glob about 2 inches long that looks distinctly furry and happens to be the exact same color as Donut. I’m speechless. The doctor’s waiting for me to say something but the only thought running through my head is:
“HOLY SHIT THAT IS CAT HAIR THERE HAS BEEN A BALL OF CAT HAIR INSIDE ME FOR A MONTH THAT IS CAT HAIR AND IT WAS IN MY VAGINA A HAIRBALL HAS BEEN CAUSING MY DISCOMFORT HOLY SHIT AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!”
Of course, no one believed a word of this. I certainly didn’t, and not even the interview Barrow gave to New York Magazine—in which she revealed that the hairball stuck inside her was two inches long and that she wouldn’t make up something this embarrassing—could convince me. Either Barrow was lying about the whole thing (possible) or she was just being dishonest about how fur-filled her bed is (probable), which Barrow claims to clean every two weeks. I basically never clean my bed (and neither do you, liar) and have a whole menagerie of animals chilling in my home, and this has never happened to any part of my body. And a quick unscientific poll revealed that none of my friends had suffered this kind of condition either. That’s when I called Priyanka Wali: MD, close personal friend, and the only person who has asked about how my bowels are doing in earnest, you know, like she really cares.
“Is she having sex on a cat castle?” Priyanka asks.
“A cat castle. You know. That thing that people buy for their cats to play with. Wait, did you say cat hair or catnip? Because, if it’s loose catnip...” she trails off.
“Why would someone have sex on a cat castle?”
“I don’t know, Mark, people do all sorts of weird shit. Human sexuality is a beautiful spectrum. Wait, did you get one of your guinea pig’s hairs caught inside you? I can come over.”
Recognizing that I’d need a more concise medical opinion (Priyanka did very clearly tell me that Barrow’s story was possible), I got into contact with Alexis Paulson, APN, WHNP-BC, an advanced practice nurse who’d helped me unravel the lies in Double Dick Dude’s autobiography several months ago. “Is this possible?” I wrote to her in an email.
Here’s her reply:
I can say that I have never personally seen cat hair caught in IUD strings in practice but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. We see a variety of foreign bodies lost in vaginas. Patients often don’t know they are there and present with vaginal discharge, odor, and/or pain. We typically see tampons and condoms, or things that were intentionally inserted but the patient was unable to remove themselves. They can cause infection, and in severe cases, toxic shock syndrome, so sometimes antibiotics are necessary. Hair could definitely get caught in IUD strings, and although I’m having trouble picturing the mode of entry I can’t imagine why someone would make this up so I tend to believe her.
Even more concerning? The fact that very few actual hairs are needed in order to tangle the IUD strings and turn one’s insides into a throbbing mass of dull pain.
I don’t know how much cat hair would be needed, per se. As a cat owner myself, I am picturing the typical half-inch wide clumps that can come off when the cats are grooming themselves (which, I’m now realizing, they often do in my bed, too).
Kyoko Peña-Robles, a women’s health doctor with One Medical Group, agreed that not only was cat hair in an IUD possible, but that she’d actually seen it before. The hair length, however, would have to be substantial in order for it to actually make an impact. “I’d imagine it would need to be a rather long piece of hair in order for it to get so tangled,” she wrote. “I have seen this in the past – with human hair – and it does look like a small hair ball.” Wait, human hair? Here we are talking about whether one can actually cough a hairball up with their sexual organs and we’re moving from felines to big game? It’s probably time we all started having sex on sanitized plastic sheets.
Dr. Peña-Robles also pointed out that some people remain asymptomatic and that, actually, if she hadn’t felt any pain, Barrow could have kept the hair inside of her for a much longer period of time. “I would consider trying to remove the hair, but that would likely require mean cutting the IUD strings shorter, which is not ideal,” she wrote. “If it’s not bothering them, I recommend leaving it be.”
None of the professionals I spoke to chose to comment on how much hair would need to be on the bed in order for the risk of IUD entanglement to be serious, but Dr. Peña-Robles did point out that there isn’t really a good way to prevent this from happening because it’s such a rare occurrence. “Just make sure there are no loose strands of hair around the pelvic area before intercourse,” she advised anyone worried that they might also have a potential “It Happened to Me” on their hands.
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