Q. My menses are driving me crazy, Doc! I bleed almost every day of the month. Will this harm me? And would the Pill help me?
A. You must not let this situation go on. Continuous bleeding such as this will soon make you anaemic. You should see a doctor right away and have an internal examination and some blood tests. It is quite likely that the Pill would help you, but the doctor may well want to use some other treatment. He/she should be able to fix things so that in a very short time, you will only be bleeding on four or five days out of every 28.
Q. Although I am a virgin, I do let my boyfriend fool around with me manually and orally. I am 18. Next week, I have to go with my mother to have a medical examination. Will the doctor be able to tell that my boyfriend and I have gone in for petting?
A. No, the doctor won't. So please don't fret. However, I do urge you to stay a virgin as long as you reasonably can. Once you give up your virginity, you could then be open to various worrying problems such as the risk of unwanted pregnancy.
Q. I am a guy of 20, and I am deeply concerned by the fact that sometimes my sex fluid is thin and milky, while at other times it is thick and lumpy. Is this a sign of cancer, Doc?
A. No, it definitely isn't. Scientists have found that it is normal for the seminal fluid to vary a great deal in appearance and texture. That is nothing to be alarmed about.
Q. I am a first-time mother. My son is almost a year old. Should I have him circumcised? What are the pros and cons of this? Also, should I be pulling back the foreskin, trying to force it over the head of the penis? I've seen two doctors do this, and one of them left him bleeding!
A. That is unfortunate. I wish health professionals would not do this type of thing. In my view, a baby's foreskin should be left alone and not forced back over the head of the organ.
Now, circumcision is a very contentious topic, and many people hold strong views about it. There are a few cases in which it has to be done, for instance, if a child cannot urinate properly because the foreskin is so tight that the urine cannot get out through the tiny hole at the end.
However, routine circumcision is another matter. Worldwide, medical opinion in recent years has tended to swing against routinely circumcising all males.
Indeed, in most of the world, outside of the United States of America, Israel, and the Muslim nations, baby boys are no longer routinely circumcised. This is partly because of the cost of the operation, but also because of the distressing fact that sometimes it goes wrong. And when it does go badly, that can be very serious. To be frank, there are tragic cases in which a child gets a large portion of his penis accidentally cut off.
You asked for the pros and cons of routine circumcision. Here is a summary:
1. Men who have been circumcised do not get cancer of the penis in later life. But that is a very rare condition, especially in guys who wash themselves regularly.
2. There is evidence that circumcised men are less liable to getting HIV and other infections.
3. The circumcised penis is easier to keep clean.
4. Circumcision may give some protection against urinary infections.
1. It hurts the child.
2. There is a risk that the operation may be followed by infection or bleeding.
3. Many adult males are very resentful about the loss of their foreskin because they feel, rightly or wrongly, that the procedure has affected their sexual sensitivity.
You can get more information from the web, notably on sites such as www.parenting-boys.com.
Q. Stupidly, I gave in to a boy last night. This was on the very last day of my menses. Will I get pregnant, Doc?
A The odds are that you will get away with it because ovulation (that is, egg release) does not usually occur till around 10 to 15 days after the start of a period. However, please don't take any more risks! Either avoid sex, or else use contraception.
Q. I have been trying to get my girlfriend pregnant for a year now, but nothing has happened. Does this mean I am sterile?
A No. But it does suggest that either you or she has a fertility problem. If you're both very sure that you want to have a baby, then the two of you should go to a doctor and have a check-up. In your case, it would be useful to have a sperm count done. This involves climaxing into a sterile glass container so that the seminal fluid can be examined under a microscope by lab technicians.
Q. I travelled home to Portland last weekend and went with a girl there. Now I have heard that she has many partners. How would I know if she has given me a sexually transmitted infection (STI)?
A. In a male, the likeliest symptoms of an STI are:
But it is possible for some sex infections, notably chlamydia, to produce no symptoms at all. If in doubt, check with a doctor.
Q. I am a guy of 19, and I just don't seem to have any interest in sleeping with girls. Do you think I could be gay?
A Possibly. But you don't say that you have any sexual feelings towards men either. So maybe you just have a very low sex drive. Some guys are like that. You should seek out an experienced youth counsellor or therapist and have a few hours of discussion with him or her. That would help you clarify your thoughts.
Q. I am female, age 17. Yesterday, I sat on a toilet seat. I later discovered that it had been used by some rather dirty-looking people. Could this have given me an STI?
A Very unlikely. It is fortunate that germs do not live long on toilet seats. And I have never seen a patient who caught an STI in the way you described. Nevertheless, I would not recommend sitting on a public toilet seat. For hygienic reasons, some women make a practice of hovering just above it. This seems not a bad idea.
Q. I am a guy of 19, and I have an aunt who is both beautiful and desirable. She seems to like me. Would it be safe to try and have sex with her?
A This would be very crazy! Don't even think about it!
Email questions to Doc at email@example.com and read more in the Outlook Magazine tomorrow.