Dear Doc: A wife's 10 year secret
Q: Doctor, I am a wife with something on my conscience. I have been married for 13 years and I have two beautiful children. I love my husband and he is a good man. But 10 years ago, when I was away on a training course, I was unfaithful to him. I am so ashamed to tell you that, I don't know why I did it. But maybe it was because I was away from home and lonely, and this other man was sensationally attractive - handsome face, great physique, charming manner. I later found out, however, that he had sex with two other women who were on the same course.
Well, I took the final exam, passed with flying colours, and came home. I hugged and kissed my husband, because I was just so pleased to see him. I decided that I must put the memory of that affair out of my mind. But I couldn't, Doctor. For 10 years now, I have been waking up in the night and thinking about it. I am filled with guilt. Sometimes I dream that I am naked in the other man's arms and that my husband walks in the door and catches us. On these occasions, I sometimes wake up screaming.
My husband knows nothing about all this. He is aware that I am currently feeling nervy and not sleeping well, but he does not know why.
So I have two questions:
1. Would sleeping tablets help me?
2. Should I confess my sin to my husband?
A: You are clearly carrying a heavy burden, but sleeping tablets will not help you. They will not stop those bad dreams - and they might even make them worse. Furthermore, it is now known that it is very easy to get hooked on those pills - making everything worse for the patient.
As it relates to the question of confessing everything to your husband, this would be a very bad idea. It might make you feel a little better getting things off your chest. But please consider the effect on him.
He would probably be devastated by your revelation. At the very least, it would make him a very unhappy man. I have seen quite a few cases where a wife confessed her adultery and her spouse was heartbroken. One man could not cope with the thoughts of his wife being unfaithful and killed himself.
So, please do not tell your husband. However, it would do you good to confess to somebody. Maybe you could talk to a minister of religion? Also, I feel it would be an excellent idea if you spent some months in therapy with a marriage counsellor.
I am also wondering whether you are depressed. These sleep disturbances do suggest that. So I think you should have a talk with your doctor about your feelings and the fact that you keep waking up in the night. You do not have to tell her about your affair if you don't want to, but it would be better if you were totally frank.
Finally, I have one concern about your children. Is there any chance that one of them could be the child of that 'Romeo' who in you met 10 years ago? It would be sad if you gave your husband a 'jacket' all these years.
I hope that is not the case. But you need to look at the child's birthdate, and at the dates of the course you went on. If you are not certain, your doctor will still have a record of the dates of your last period before you became pregnant. That should help you work it out.
Should I do a penis-enlarging operation?
Q: Hi, Doctor. I know that a lot of men worry unnecessarily about the length of their penises, but I really do have a concern. Please understand, Doctor, that mine really is only four inches long when I am erect. I have always been this way. I do not know why. You may be surprised to hear that, before I got married, I had several girlfriends. None of them complained about my size, and my wife and I have three children.
But recently, I have been reading about penis-enlarging operations. Would it be possible to do such an operation?
A: Well, four inches certainly is an inch or so below average. But does it matter? By your account, you were able to satisfy several women when you were younger. Presumably you are able to satisfy your wife - though you do not actually say so. And you are a father - three times over.
Before you do anything, please reflect on the fact that women are generally not very interested in the length of a man's penis. It is men who are always worrying about this.
If you want to pursue the matter, then I think you should consult a urologist at the nearest hospital. But I do not think that he will be too keen to perform a difficult and possibly dangerous operation, just to give you an extra inch or two.
Should I use the skin patch?
Q: I am a 29-year-old woman with an active sex life. After researching the subject of contraception, I decided to try the 'skin patch'. I understand that you just put a hormone patch on the stomach and that stops you from getting pregnant. So I went to my doctor and, to my surprise, she was reluctant to give me the skin patch. She said it was because I am a smoker and because my mother had a stroke at an early age.
What do you think, Doctor?
A: The patch is a very effective method of birth control. As you say, you put one on your skin and you change it for another one each week. At the end of three weeks, you have a week's break. So it is pretty easy to use.
But there are problems. Quite a few women have had strokes or heart attack while using the patch. Some have died. In the United States, there has been a lot of lawsuits brought by patients who suffered these sad events or by their surviving partners.
In February of this year, the US manufacturers decided to cease production of the patch. It will still be possible to get an alternative product.
However, it is now clear that any woman with 'risk factors' such as thrombosis (clotting), stroke or heart attack should not use it.
Am I having too much sex?
Q: I am a pretty virile man, Doctor. I have sex with my wife three times for the week in addition to the two girlfriends I have who I try to satisfy when I can. My question is: could all this sexual activity wear me out? Or use up all my supplies of male hormone?
A: No. But you should realise that having sex with three different women really does increase the chance that you will catch an infection.