How Polyamory Pushed Me to Prioritize My Pelvic Health

I got my first yeast infection at 30. It was diagnosed during a pelvic exam with my primary care physician in December 2020, a month after my divorce was finalized. It was an especially painful exam because of the infection, and I wept for a long time when I got home. My ex and I were packing up to move to different states, but they took the time to talk me through some of my more complicated feelings: Namely, that I felt ashamed for “not taking care of myself” and thus getting an infection.

At the time, I felt ashamed about anything pertaining to my pelvic health. My first relationship had been an abusive nightmare in which my weight had been a point of contention — because if I were “less fat, then we could have better sex” — and that had a lasting impact on me. Then the partner I eventually married said I was hypersexual and would often ask me if I had showered recently when they could smell odor from my vagina — even if we were kissing or if they were touching me in a way that turned me on. I didn’t trust my libido or my body for a decade.

In July 2022, seven months into being one-third of a closed polycule, I was diagnosed with bacterial vaginosis and a severe UTI. This time I didn’t feel ashamed — I felt surprised. My symptoms were so sudden and so severe that I was forced to crawl out of the bathroom because the pain made me so weak. Both of my partners went with me to the emergency room, and we all thought this would be a one-time occurrence.

It wasn’t. That month alone, we went to the ER four or five times, and then I was admitted for a ten-day hospital stay. One doctor’s comment that I was “a bag of mysteries” became something of a motto each time I met a new provider. That was just the beginning. Fortunately, communicating openly and often about sex and pelvic health with my partners has helped me advocate for my needs, and now I’m finally on a path towards healing.

Deciding to explore polyamory for the first time at the start of 2022 was incredibly scary. In past relationships, polyamory had only ever been presented to me as a punishment or an ultimatum. Choosing to try it for myself felt empowering, but it also felt like skydiving with no parachute. I feared losing one or both of my partners, worried that I wouldn’t be able to handle my own feelings of jealousy, stressed about getting it wrong at every turn.

Sometimes I do get it wrong. All of us do. But by developing a strong base of communication and intentionally talking through issues as they arise instead of letting them fester, all three of us have been able to not only show up for ourselves, but also show up for each other. We set boundaries with each other and call each other in if those boundaries are violated. Our apologies include four parts: asking for consent, apologizing, naming what we’re apologizing for, and creating a plan for growth and improvement. We check in each day, often multiple times a day, to ask how we’re doing with our mental, emotional, and physical health; what tasks we need help accomplishing; and how we can support each other. We prioritize safety over productivity, and we strive to take each other at our word.

These practices translate directly to how we communicate about sex and intimacy. As a fat, chronically ill, increasingly disabled survivor whose sex drive created problems in my marriage, I’ve struggled to state what I want from my partners. I’ve feared that I want too much, too often, that seeking pleasure makes me selfish, and that asking to be touched in certain ways is too demanding. I’ve also worried that not wanting to have sex when my partners do will make them not want to sleep with me ever again. I’ve feared that saying “no” will birth bigger problems for us. In the last year, I’ve learned that none of these things are true and that being honest about what intimacy looks like for me at any given moment is the healthiest thing I can do.

By beginning to heal my relationship with intimacy, I’ve also begun to heal my relationship with my body. This has been especially integral due to how my body is changing. When I first started dating one of my partners, I began experiencing a new type of chronic pain that required me to walk with a cane. Suddenly, I had gone from having an invisible illness to being visibly disabled, which was difficult to process. I felt betrayed by my body and fearful of the future, especially as the pain got worse.

I’m a fat liberationist and genuinely love my fat body, and being with two other fat people has further radicalized me. But having sex as a chronically ill and disabled person is new to me. It requires me to be completely in my body during sex — something I avoided in past relationships to escape potential shame, pain, and discomfort. Now, for the first time, I have partners who encourage me to explore toys, tools, and positions that are as accessible as they are pleasurable. One of my partners also experiences chronic pain, and all three of us believe sex should be as shame-free and pleasurable as possible for everyone, however they choose to participate. For me, the way I participate in sex fluctuates constantly — especially because sex of any kind can be wildly painful.

Since my hospital stay last summer, I’ve exhausted the available urological tests and still struggle with persistent, resistant UTIs. I’ve been diagnosed with PCOS and may also have endometriosis. In December, I had a dilation and curettage procedure to determine whether my rapidly-thickening endometrial lining was cancerous. Thankfully, it wasn’t.

After a lifetime of being disregarded by doctors because I’m fat, I was accustomed to never getting answers — now, thanks to the communication skills I’ve practiced in my polycule, I refuse to be ignored. Instead of simply living with inconsistent and debilitating periods, chronic pain, and bizarre bladder symptoms because I’m afraid to acknowledge that something might be wrong, I’m advocating for myself. I ask my doctors to follow their hunches, encourage them to examine my symptoms from new angles, and ask scary questions. I demand to have tests and procedures done for peace of mind, even if they won’t reveal any new information. I state my boundaries upon meeting each and every doctor. If my boundaries as a patient are violated, I state that in the moment and then pursue new care paths with other providers. My ability to do this is a direct result of the communication and trust I’ve built with my partners in talking about sex, intimacy, illness, and pain. It also helps that I always have one, if not both, of them with me — and whenever I falter, I can silently communicate with them to step in and help me advocate for my needs.

The first time I considered asking for a hysterectomy was right before I got married. When I brought it up with my doctor, he told me it was an invasive procedure that required more thought than he believed I’d given it. Now, six years later, an OBGYN will be removing my uterus because I believe it’s the best thing for me, and she believes the procedure will grant me some of the freedom and relief I’m desperately seeking. Thanks to my self-advocacy and a bit of luck, I finally found a doctor who listens to and respects my needs in this arena and doesn’t pin my illnesses on my weight.

Were it not for my partners and our commitment to talking through everything, all the time, especially when we’re struggling, I think I’d still be suffering. Although I never could have predicted it, learning how to practice healthy polyamory has taught me how to advocate for my health needs without even a modicum of shame.

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Samantha Puc

Samantha Puc (she/they) is a fat, disabled, lesbian writer and streamer whose work focuses primarily on LGBTQ+ and fat representation in pop culture. Their writing has been featured on Refinery29, Bitch Media, them., and elsewhere. Samantha is the co-creator of Fatventure Mag and she contributed to the award-winning Fat and Queer: An Anthology of Queer and Trans Bodies and Lives. They are an original cast member of Death2Divinity, and they are currently pursuing a Master of Fine Arts degree in creative nonfiction at The New School. When Samantha is not working or writing, she loves spending time with her cats, reading, and perfecting her grilled cheese recipe.

Samantha has written 2 articles for us.


  1. Isn’t it better to just start taking care of your health now? It is never too late to start, and the result will not be long in coming. Great mood, energy and cheerfulness – these are the bonuses of a healthy lifestyle! This site will help you discover the best health products

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