Sun | Jan 20, 2019

Doctor's Advice | Is my daughter gay?

Published:Sunday | April 1, 2018 | 12:00 AM

Q Dear Doc, I am worried about my teenage daughter. She is 18 years old and will be starting university in September and be far away from home. She does not have many friends - she just sits in her room most of the time and reads when she is home.

When I was her age, I was up and about going to parties with my friends. I asked her if she has a boyfriend and she said no. Her father does not live with us, just us and her two younger brothers (ages 10 and 14). She is OK with her brothers, but she does not have any other friends. She is doing well in school, but I am worried. One day I was cleaning her room and I found a picture of a naked woman and a vibrator. Doc, do you think she is a lesbian? I feel uncomfortable asking her. She attends an all-girls boarding school do you think that is what makes her this way?

A Good day to you. Parenting is a very challenging task, even more so for single parents. Unfortunately, I am not in a position to assess your daughter's sexual orientation because teenagers go through a variety of sexual explorations, so it is unwise to make assumptions.

Despite how you feel, you will have to gather some courage and have this conversation with her. Sex toys can also transmit genital infections, especially if they are shared, or not properly cleaned or stored after use. Her reclusiveness may be due to an introverted personality or depression. Does she have a relationship with her father? How does she feel about his absence from the home? How long has he been away? Clearly, you both need to seek the advice of a counsellor. Talk to her brothers, you may find that they know more than you do. Best of luck.


Milky discharge from breasts


Q Dear Doc, I am a 28-year-old woman, and I have been having a milky discharge from my breasts for the last six months. I am not breast feeding, and my last child is five years old. My boyfriend loves to suck my nipples a lot. Doc do you think that is why I am having milk?

A Thank you for your question. The most common causes of milky discharge from the nipples of non-pregnant women include:

- Tumours of the pituitary gland in the brain.

- Prolonged use of medication such as antidepressants, and some heartburn medicines.

- Underlying medical conditions such as liver disease.

- Regular use of marijuana and cocaine.

- Over stimulation of nipples.

Prolonged stimulation of the nipples such as you describe, can lead to milk secretion from the breasts, but this is not common, so you should see your doctor urgently to rule out other causes. Regular nipple stimulation has been shown to reduce the risk of breast cancer.


How can I get rid of these cyst?


Q Dear Doc, I missed my period a few weeks ago, and did a pregnancy test which was positive. I repeated it four times with the same result. I went to the doctor who did one which was also positive. Then I started to bleed and passed a few clots. I went back to the doctor who did an ultrasound and told me that I must have had a miscarriage. I am very disappointed because this was my first child. The doctor also said that the ultrasound shows that I have polycystic ovaries. Could this be the cause of my miscarriage? How can I get rid of these cysts?

A Sorry to hear about your situation. Women with polycystic ovaries have a higher rate of miscarriage due to the irregularities in hormone levels produced by these multiple cysts. These miscarriages are more common during the first three months of pregnancy.

Due to the irregularities in ovulation associated with polycystic ovaries, it may be difficult to become pregnant. The condition is not curable, but can be managed with medication that stabilises the hormones thus reducing the number of cysts. Surgical methods are also available when there is no response to medical treatment. Consult a gynaecologist as soon as possible for a detailed assessment of your situation.


I still have 'milk teeth'


Q Dear Doc, I am a 44-year-old woman, and I visited my dentist last month for my regular cleaning and exam. I did some X-rays which showed that I still have two milk teeth deep in my upper jaw. The dentist said that this is nothing to worry about, but I am not so sure. Do you think this could affect my health? It has not so far.

A The condition you described, is known as retained deciduous (milk) teeth. The causes are said to be genetic, previous injury or infection in the gum or root of the tooth. Sometimes they are fused (ankylosed) to the jaw bone especially when discovered at this late stage. Unless infected, they are left in place as their removal can cause significant damage to the jaw bone. So far, you have not experienced any problems, so your dentist is right - best to leave them alone and do an occasional X-ray to check for any changes.


My girlfriend has chlamydia


Q Dear Doc, my girlfriend was treated for chlamydia, and the doctor told her that it can cause blocked tubes. He told her that I must also come in for treatment. Can it affect my sperm count? I am 28 years old and I do not have any children as yet.

A Thank you for your question. Chlamydia like all other sexually transmitted infection, requires treatment of both partners. Some people have more than one sex partner at a time, so it is important that all partners are treated in order to prevent the infection from recurring. Condoms can reduce the risk of contracting these infections, and all sexually active adults need to be responsible and use condoms where appropriate and do at least an annual check for HIV and syphilis.

Chlamydia causes scarring and blockage of the reproductive tubes in both men and women, leading to infertility, so it is important to have it treated. Chlamydia also damages sperms by making them immobile and malformed. Unlike gonorrhoea, infection with chlamydia does not always produce obvious symptoms, hence the importance of getting treatment if your partner was diagnosed with it.