The Crazy Way Sex (Literally) Saved This Woman's Life

Illustrated by Anna Sudit.
One day in 2013, Ellie Taylor-Davis, now 28, was having sex with her boyfriend. In addition to all the usual feels, she detected a weird sensation in her low belly — like there was something alive in there. “I felt something were move [sic] inside of me and I thought it was really strange,” she told The Mirror. She felt it deep inside when she went to the bathroom, too, and she noticed she constantly felt like she had to pee. So she did what anyone would do: She Googled her symptoms. And for likely the first and only time in human history, her online research incorrectly persuaded her it was NBD. “I Googled the symptoms but convinced myself it couldn't be cancer,” she said. She figured it was probably constipation.

About a month later, Taylor-Davis visited her gynecologist to have an IUD inserted. The doctor felt the mass and ordered a pregnancy test. When that came back negative, the Ob/Gyn ordered an ultrasound, which uncovered a six-inch cancerous mass clinging to Taylor-Davis’s ovaries. Now she realized why she always needed to pee: The mass was pushing on her bladder and other nearby organs.

“At my age, you never think you could get ovarian cancer,” she said. "After they told me it could be cancer, I crawled into bed, unable to call my mum, boyfriend, or friends, and lay there for five hours completely devastated.”

Thankfully, her story has a happy ending: Taylor-Davis visited a specialist in London who removed the tumor while sparing her uterus. (The knobby thing, she reported, “looked like an alien — it was huge and weird looking, [and] I could [sic] believe I had that inside of me.” Because the disease hadn’t spread to her lymph nodes, she didn’t need chemo or radiation. Three years later, she’s still in remission. "You never think you'll be faced with something like this,” she said. “Comprehending whether I'd live or die at my age was really horrible.”

She was right that ovarian cancer is extremely uncommon for twentysomething women. “The average age for someone to have ovarian cancer is in their 60s,” says Jennifer Conti, MD, an Ob/Gyn at Stanford University. “Of course, that doesn’t mean it never happens. So it’s always a good idea to see your primary care physician or Ob/Gyn if you feel something out of the ordinary going on in your pelvis.”

The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends healthy young women get a pelvic exam every two years, and during it, your doctor will feel around for tumors: That’s one of the things she’s doing when she has a gloved finger in your vagina and the other pressing on your abdomen. Before an IUD insertion, too, your doctor will feel for the shape and contour of the uterus, which is how Taylor-Davis’s provider noticed the lump.

Sounds to us like the discovery of the mass was incidental, but Taylor-Davis still credits the sex. “I would never have been aware that anything was wrong had I not felt the cancerous cyst during sex,” she says. “It saved my life and I'm very lucky to be here."

Rule of thumb: If you feel something strange in your gut or pelvis, make an appointment with your general practitioner or Ob/Gyn, respectively. “Reasons you’d need an emergency visit include really severe pain and heavy vaginal bleeding that’s out of the ordinary for you,” Dr. Conti says. “But if you notice something that’s just uncomfortable and different from how you were feeling before, just make a regular visit.”

As Taylor-Davis puts it, "I knew something was wrong and the saying 'you know your body best' is definitely true, you have to listen to your gut instinct."
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