DOCTOR'S ADVICE - My lesbian past
- My lesbian past
Q: Doctor, I am a 34-year-old female and I just got engaged to a wonderful guy. I love him and he loves me. But what he does not know is that, between the ages of 20 and 25, when I was working in America, I lived as a lesbian. I can hardly believe it now, but at that time my social life involved meeting a lot of 'gay' women, and after a while I began to have sex with two or three of them. I will not pretend that it wasn't exciting, because it was. There were some heartaches and some break-ups, but a lot of the time it was fun.
Nevertheless, when I returned to Jamaica, I began to change my point of view. I started to find men more interesting, and eventually I slept with one and enjoyed it. There have been a few more affairs with men and they went pretty well. And now I have found this man who I really, really love.
However, I have two concerns, Doc:
❐ Could I have put my health in danger or damaged my sex organs, through these lesbian activities when I was younger?
❐ Should I tell my fiancé that I used to be into girls?
A: Well, I should inform you that research has shown that when young women are away from home and are feeling lonely, quite a few of them drift into 'girl-on-girl' activity. Often, when they get older they forget all about that kind of stuff and settle for being 'straight'. So you are not all that unusual.
Now you ask about your health. I am pleased to say that it is unlikely that your health has suffered any negative effect as a result of your past sexual partners. Lesbianism does not cause any structural damage to the female genitals. And no one who examined your private parts would be able to tell that you were.
What about sexually transmitted infections (STIs)? It cannot be denied that lesbians sometimes do catch these, but in general they are less likely to get them than heterosexuals. Nevertheless, if you were leading a very promiscuous life in America, then it is certainly possible that you might have picked up an infection such as chlamydia. So there may be a case for seeing a doctor and having a few tests. Be sure to take a specimen of urine with you.
As it relates to HIV, gay men are more likely to catch it, but lesbians are not so likely to get it. Now, should you tell your fiancé that you were once involved with other women? It does seem to me that this would be the fair thing to do. However, you must bear in mind that there is a danger that he could not cope with that revelation - and might then call off the marriage.
- Is cancer of the penis hereditary?
Q: I'm a 30-year-old male and my father passed away 10 years ago from a heart attack. But recently, I was very ashamed and surprised to discover that he died from cancer of the penis. This has really scared me. Is this hereditary? Could I get it too? What can I do to avoid it?
A: Relax. Cancer of the penis is not hereditary. And it is very uncommon in Jamaica. The best way to avoid it is to wash under your foreskin once each day. In fact, all men should do this.
- Female lacking 'bedroom experience'
Q: Doctor, I would like to find a good, loving husband to settle down with. I am nearly 29 now, and I feel time is running out! But I have had very little sexual experience. In fact, I have only ever been with one guy. That was a 'one-night stand', around five years ago, and it was not very good. So I am wondering, Doc. Would it be a good idea to go out and get myself some 'bedroom experience' with a few men before I finally settle down?
A: I am sorry to hear that your first sexual liaison was a bit of a disappointment. Alas, a lot of women find that that is the case! I do not think your time is 'running out'. These days, many women do not get married until well into their 30s. So, should you go out and get yourself what you call 'bedroom experience'? There is no scientific evidence to prove that sleeping with a number of men will provide good 'training' for matrimony.
In fact, a recent research paper produced by the University of Virginia has suggested that women who have numerous sexual partners before they 'tie the knot' are less likely to be happy in their marriages. Admittedly, the evidence is not conclusive. It could just be that women who are of an unhappy disposition will often try to cheer themselves up by sleeping with a lot of men. In your case, I don't think you should go out looking for sex with a lot of men. After all, the plain fact is that promiscuity can be very dangerous for your health.
- Trying to get my partner pregnant
Q: From the beginning of the year, I have been trying desperately to get my partner pregnant. We have been unsuccessful and she has suggested that our chances of having a child would be improved if I reduce my alcohol. Is that possible? I only drink about three cans per day.
A: Yes, there is some sense in what your partner says. Research done in Denmark has shown that, the more alcohol a man drinks, the lower his sperm count is likely to be. They say that, if a man drinks only two pints of beer per week, that could affect his sperm count and sperm quality. So your three cans a day are very probably harming your chances of becoming a father. My advice - cut down as much as you are able to. Also, it would be a good idea to get your sperm count checked by a doctor.
- Bad effects of 'vaginal ring'
Q: My doctor has suggested that I try that 'vaginal ring' contraceptive. Seems like a good idea to me. But has it got any bad effects, Doc?
A: The vaginal ring (also known as NuvaRing) works extremely well. But you have to remember that it contains hormones. And these hormones, which are like those contained in the contraceptive pill, carry a small risk of thrombosis - clotting. In the United States, there have been a number of lawsuits launched by women who claim that the device gave them heart attacks or strokes. Many doctors will not prescribe NuvaRing for any woman who is over 35 or who smokes. Other possible side effects include vaginal irritation, headache, and weight gain.