Sat | Feb 17, 2018

Doctor's Advice | Could a plastic bag make a contraceptive?

Published:Saturday | February 4, 2017 | 12:00 AM

Q I have a really difficult question for you, Doc. My girlfriend and I are having a lot of sex. She is 17 and I am 16. Sometimes we are desperate for each other's bodies!

The problem is that we cannot afford condoms, so I have had an idea. Could we just use some other form of plastic? I thought that maybe it would be OK if I put on a bag of some sort. Don't laugh, but it occurred to me that maybe a bag which had contained potato chips might be OK, or, perhaps, some other kind of wrapping from the supermarket.

Would a 'bag' like that prevent sperms from getting into my girlfriend? What do you think, Doc? Would it be safe?

A Pardon my saying so, but this is a dumb idea. In the past, I have known teenager to do this kind of thing when they were desperate for sex but didn't have any contraceptives. Sometimes the 'plastic bag idea' worked, but sometimes it didn't, and the girl got pregnant.

There are two basic problems with your plan:

1. The bag may 'leak' sperms through tiny holes or tears.

2. The bag may harm the girl's vagina either because its surface is rough and tears her or because it carries germs.

So, please, don't do this. You say that you cannot afford condoms, but, really, they are pretty cheap these days. I reckon that a condom could work out cheaper than a pack of potato chips!

Also, some free condoms are given out by clinics and guidance counsellors.

There are two other things you and your girlfriend could try:

- Be really determined and avoid intercourse altogether.

- Go to a doctor or clinic where your girlfriend could be given the Pill or some other reliable method of contraception.

But, please, no plastic bags!

Q Doc, I am female, age 19. If I start to take the Pill, will I get any side effects?

A Many young women who start on the Pill get NO side effects at all. Others get minor and passing side effects such as:

- Slight nausea or even sickness

- Slight headache

- Slight breast tenderness

- Slight blood loss between menses (called 'spotting')

Also, a few young women gain two to three pounds in weight. Those who have contact lenses may find that they need a new prescription for the lenses.

Serious side effects are really rare in young females. However, any woman who goes on the Pill must be aware of the very slight risk of clotting (thrombosis). Because of that risk, young women should be 'screened' by a doctor before going on the Pill to make sure that they don't have any risk factors for thrombosis.

Risk factors include such things as:

- Being a smoker

- Having a bad 'family history' of clotting

- Being grossly overweight

- Having high blood pressure

If you have any of those things, you should think twice about going on the Pill.

Q A breast question, Doc. I am guy of 20, and I have never been out with a girl. Next week, however, I have my first-ever date.

The difficulty is this. I have no idea about what you are supposed to do with a girl's breasts! That may sound crazy, but no one has ever told me. Are you supposed to squeeze them, or what?

A Well, bear in mind that your date may not actually want to have her breasts touched. However, it is true that many young women do like to have their mammaries caressed in some way, and it is certainly not easy for a young man to know what to do.

Therefore, I recommend that you visit a useful American website. This is most definitely not a porn site, but its title is quite surprising! It is called: 'How She Wants You To Handle Her Breasts'

Basically, it is a series of pieces of advice from a young woman called Marlee Kostiner. She talks about how to handle breasts without causing pain or soreness and how to give a woman pleasure rather than discomfort. For any young man, this is worth a look.

Q I'm a 19-year-old female, Doc. Why do the guys I date always seem to want me to put my hand on the penis? I do not like doing this.

A Then don't agree to do it. You should not allow yourself to be forced into anything you dislike!

What many young women should realise is that guys are biologically programmed to want certain things. Most important of all, they have a deep urge to get the penis into the vagina. It is that urge which is responsible for the continuation of the human race.

But if this activity is not available (like if the girl says 'no'), they usually wish to have the male organ stimulated in other ways - and particularly by a female hand. That is just the way that males are.

So you must expect that many guys (not all) will want you to do this, but you are definitely not obliged to agree! You don't have to play along when you go out on a date. It is perfectly acceptable just to go out for the evening with a guy, have a little kiss and a cuddle, and then tell him good night.

Q Doc, is it possible for a girl who has never been pregnant to have a coil inserted?

A Yes, although the insertion tends to be a little more painful if you have never had children.

Q I am male and I have a beautiful girlfriend. She is quite a lot older than me and she has been married in the past. I love her, Doc, but there is one odd thing about her.

When we have sex, she will not look at me or face me. In fact, she will only let me 'do it' from behind. So I am always facing the back of her head.

Why does she do this?

A This behaviour is actually quite common among women. Typically, these females are willing to have intercourse, but won't look into the guy's eyes while they do it.

This indicates a certain lack of commitment! Subconsciously, the lady is saying 'I am not giving myself totally to you, even though we are having sex'.

I note that your girlfriend has previously been married to someone else. It could be that deep down, she is still committed to that other guy, her previous husband. All I can suggest is that you talk this matter over with her and explain to her that you are not happy with being unable to see her face when you make love to her.

Q Doc, I am 20 and have two boyfriends. Am I much too young for that contraceptive skin patch?

A Please, try to reduce your number of boyfriends to one! To have two sexual partners is bound to increase the chances of a sexually transmitted infection.

The skin patch is perfectly fine for young women. It carries a small risk of clotting, but at the age of 20, the danger is usually tiny.

All you have to remember is to put a new skin patch on every week and then have one patchless week out of every four. During that 'week off', you should have your menses.

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