Wed | Mar 21, 2018

Too many preganacy scares

Published:Saturday | January 30, 2016 | 12:00 AM

Q Hi, Doc. Could you give me and my boyfriend some advice about sex? We are both aged 19, and we have been sexually active together for around six months.

During that time, I have had several pregnancy scares, and I don't want any more! We both know that there is a 'danger time' during the middle of the girl's month when sex must be avoided. We don't know how to work things out when this danger time is.

My boyfriend has heard that we can work it out using something called the 'magic numbers'. But again, we don't know what those numbers are.


A Well, what you are talking about is a variant of the famous 'rhythm method' of contraception. This is based on the fact that women tend to ovulate (i.e. produce an ovum) roughly halfway between the menses, and that is the time when you are most likely to get pregnant.

Frankly, I do not put too much faith in the rhythm method - except when the couple is carefully supervised by a doctor or by some other health professional who really understands it. But it is certainly better than using nothing - which, is what I guess, you have been doing up until now!

To use the magic numbers version of the rhythm method, you need to be good at recording the dates of your menses in a diary or on a calendar, or, perhaps, with the aid of a computer or mobile phone. The object of doing this is to find out:

- How long your shortest menstrual cycle is - from starting day to starting day;

- How long your longest menstrual cycle is.

If you don't already know these figures, then it will probably take you several months to find out the answers.

Now comes the use of the magic numbers, which are 18 and 11. What you do is this:

- Subtract 18 from the number of days in your shortest cycle.

- Subtract 11 from the number of days in your longest cycle.

So, if a girl's shortest cycle is 26 days, she takes away 18 from this and gets a result of eight.

And if her longest cycle is 28 days, she subtracts 11 from that and gets an answer of 17.

So in her case, the answers are eight and 17. This means that she must not have unprotected sex between day eight and day 17 of her cycle.

I can't stress strongly enough that the first day of the period is numbered as day one. I have known young couples get it all wrong by counting the last day of the menses as day one! That will not work.

If you want to go in for the magic numbers, they will certainly help you to cut down on the risk of pregnancy. But honestly, you would be far safer using a reliable method of contraception such as the condom, the Pill, the coil (IUD), or the jab.

Good luck to you both!

Q I am 17, and I have noticed that one of my testicles hangs lower than the other one. Is this serious, Doc?

A Not at all. Virtually all guys have one testicle that hangs lower than the other one. Pay this no mind.

Q My fiancee does not orgasm often, Doc.

Is she abnormal? Should she see a doctor?

A Young women often find it quite difficult to climax. Unlike men, they cannot just do it at the drop of a hat.

Your fiancee does orgasm sometimes, so I can say confidently that there is nothing wrong with her. As time goes by and as she learns to relax when she is with you, then she will learn to 'discharge' more easily.

The important thing is to create a loving, romantic atmosphere whenever you are having sex. Also, pay particular attention to her clitoris. Stimulation of this little organ is the main key to female orgasm.

Q Doc, I am a young woman who is absolutely terrified of sex. Consequently, I am still a virgin at the age of 24. I cannot even put tampons in.

My mom told me that sex would hurt me terribly, and I believed her. But now I have friends who say it doesn't hurt them at all. Who is right?

A Well, your friends are right. I am sure that your poor mom believed what she told you. I suspect she had some bad experiences.

The truth is that sex is sometimes a little painful when you first start having it, but as you learn to relax and enjoy it, it should become totally pain-free.

Sadly, it sounds like the advice your mother gave you has caused you to have a psychological condition called 'vaginismus'. It is a sort of 'muscle contraction' that happens whenever any approach is made to the vagina, and that is why you cannot put tampons inside you.

But I am glad to say that there is a way of defeating vaginismus. You see, some doctors are very good at teaching the woman to relax completely at the same time as doing an internal exam.

It is said that during this therapeutic process, a female doctor kind of 'replaces' the woman's mother - and gives her 'permission' to open up her vagina - and eventually to enjoy sex.

Therefore, I believe it is time you found yourself an understanding woman doctor so that you can talk this problem over with her.

Q Doc, I am a guy of 17, and I am sure that I will never be able to have sex with a woman. The reason is that I'm certain I am far too big.

I have read somewhere that the average man has a length of between five and six inches. Well, I am just about six and a half inches.

I guess that I am some kind of monster, Doc. I am sure that no woman would ever be able to fit me in.

A I have heard this sort of story before. Lads who are 'large' can easily get scared that they are 'too big for any woman'!

But your fears are totally unjustified. For a start, six and a half inches is only a little above average length.

Also, what you do not realise is that during sexual excitement, the vagina lengthens and expands. The effect of this is to make it perfectly possible for a large organ to enter without difficulty.

In fact, in my entire medical career I have never seen a case of a man who was so big that he could not have intercourse, so kindly quit fretting!

Q As a 19-year-old female student, I feel like I am about to start having sex. I love my boyfriend, and he is keen to start. My doctor has suggested that I have 'the Shot', but are there any side effects?

A The Shot (a.k.a 'the Jab') works well, but among its possible side-effects are:

- chaotic menses;

- breast discomfort;

- dizziness;

- mood changes;

- gas;

- nausea.

- possible weight gain.

For more details, ask your doctor.

- Email questions to Doc at and read more in the Outlook Magazine tomorrow.