Doctor's ADVICE: Should I send him a nude photo?
Q. I am a girl in my late teens, Doc. Could you give me some advice?
I have a new boyfriend - the first I have ever had. He lives quite a long way from me.
Now I am writing to you because of what he has asked me to do. He wants me to take a close-up photo of my vagina - and then send the picture to his phone. I was shocked originally, but then I began to find the idea a little bit intriguing - especially as some of my friends have done the same thing with their partners.
My boyfriend says that in return, he will send me an intimate photo of himself, doing something sexy. I am not so sure about that, Doc!
To start with, I told him that I would not cooperate. But he said to me that if a girl really loved her guy, she would agree.
A. Well, that last statement of his is just foolishness. It is the sort of thing that young men have been saying to young women for generations - in order to get them to do something sexy which they are reluctant to take part in!
I don't know whether you love this guy, who is only your first boyfriend. But even if you do, that does not oblige you to go in for whatever sexual activity he wants.
Now let us turn to this business of exchanging intimate photos. This has suddenly become popular with young people throughout the world. Twenty years ago, hardly anyone would have done such a thing - especially as other folks would have seen the pictures during the 'developing and printing' process.
But the information technology revolution has changed all that. Nowadays, a girl can use her mobile phone to take a photo of her breasts or her vulva - and then send it to her boyfriend in an instant. This is commonly done through social-networking systems such as Snapchat.
I suppose I should say that medically this is a safe form of sexual activity. At least, it can't get you pregnant! And it cannot give you a sexually transmitted infection.
But there are certain problems. And those could cause you a lot of grief - especially when you move on to some future relationship - as you probably will in a year or two.
Let us consider what might happen to these pictures. It is often said that they can't cause any difficulties, because they are 'wiped' within about 10 seconds of being received. But anybody who is skilled in IT can 'capture' your intimate picture before it disappears from the screen.
So, there have been some instances in which a couple have broken up acrimoniously - and the guy has then put pictures of his ex-girlfriend's genitals on the Internet. This is called revenge pornography. It is a most unpleasant thing to happen - especially if your real name is attached to the photo!
If you find it difficult to believe that anyone would do that sort of thing, just type the two words 'Snapchat Leaked' into Google. The appalling results will give you a salutary warning.
An additional problem is that some unscrupulous people have managed to hack into the 'cloud' which store much of the world's Internet exchanges. As a result, several film stars have recently found that photos of their most intimate parts are now widely available on the Internet.
So while I don't want to spoil the relationship between this young guy and yourself, I do urge you to be cautious. To be brutally frank, he might be planning to do something nasty - like showing your picture to his friends. You have been warned.
Will masturbating harm me?
Q. As a guy of 16, I am in the habit of masturbating, Doc. As a result, I don't get out much. I always do it while watching a particular picture of a famous film actress on my screen.
I suppose I do this because I don't have a girlfriend. But medically speaking, will it cause me any harm?
A. Masturbation is completely harmless to the health. But regularly orgasming while watching the same picture of a famous lady carries one danger.
It is this. You can actually get what psychologists call fixated on that particular person.
That may not sound serious. But you could get to a situation where you cannot climax at all unless you are looking at the picture of that beautiful lady.
From what you say, I think you should certainly get out more, and meet more people. Try and encounter some real girls, and you will discover how interesting they are to talk with!
Questions about the Mini-Pill
Q. I understand that if I go on the Mini-Pill, I will have to take it every single day of the year. But Doc, how good is the protection that the Mini-Pill would give me?
A. If you really do manage to take it every single day, without missing any, then you will have a protection rate of around 99 per cent.
This means that if you took it for 100 years, you could expect to get pregnant only once! Those are actually pretty good odds.
But the odds would get much worse if you kept forgetting to take your Mini-Pills.
Q. I am a guy of nearly 20, and I must admit that I have a pretty active sex life with a lot of lovely ladies, in various parts of the island and beyond.
Doc, sometimes I do fret about catching sexual diseases. What are the ones which are most likely to hit a young guy like me?
A. Well, studies indicate that the commonest STIs are: chlamydia; gonorrhoea; candida; trichomonas; herpes; genital warts; and HIV. So take great care.
Email questions to Doc at firstname.lastname@example.org and read more in the Outlook Magazine tomorrow.