Wed | Jan 23, 2019

DOCTOR'S ADVICE - Did sex give me cancer?

Published:Sunday | February 8, 2015 | 12:00 AM

Q Doc, I am a 34-year-old mother of twins and I need your advice badly. Before I was married, I led a pretty crazy sex life. I slept with quite a few men. But soon after I got married, I did a Pap smear and it was reported as 'normal.' For years, I was totally faithful to my husband. Unfortunately, about two months back, I was stupid enough to have a one-night stand with a man in Portland. It meant nothing, and I will never see him again. However, I thought maybe that after this episode of cheating, I ought to do another Pap smear. So I did. And to my alarm, the result was positive. They said that I had 'borderline changes in the cells'. And that has terrified me! I presume that I got this result because I went with that man in Portland. Is that so, Doc? Has he given me cancer? And will that night of passion mean that I am going to die?

A Relax. Things are nowhere near as bad as you think. First of all, no one could possibly say that you have got this abnormal smear test as a result of having sex with that man in Portland a couple months back. It is unlikely that that's the case.

The slight abnormality which you have - and it is a slight abnormality - is possibly connected to the rather wild sex life which you had when you were younger. Often, these changes in the cervix take many years to occur.

Now you say that you have had a 'positive' smear. People use that word 'positive' a lot, but it doesn't really mean much. The reality is that the doctors think that you have some very slight changes in the cells of your cervix.

What that means is that the little cells might turn malignant one day, so that you could develop cancer. But the odds are that they won't.  My guess is that the doctors have asked you to come back in four or six months for another smear test. And they will want to carry out repeat tests from time to time over the next few years. Also, at some time, they will probably want to do a colposcopy. This is just a close-up inspection of your cervix using an instrument that looks like a pair of binoculars.So they will keep an eye on your cervix. And it may well be that, after a while, they say that your cervix has healed itself. The body has remarkable powers of healing!

But if the tests reveal that the pre-malignant cells are getting worse, then a gynaecologist will take action to cure you. That might well involve removing a little piece of your cervix. So the outlook is bright, and you have no need to fret.

Q I am a guy in my 30s and uncircumcised. I did not think that would ever be a problem, but now my wife is complaining about my foreskin. Doc, she says it is 'too floppy'. And that it 'gets in the way'. I am quite disturbed by this, since it gives her an excuse to refuse to have sex with me.

A Well, it is very unusual for a woman to take the slightest interest in her husband's foreskin! In fact, it has been shown that many wives don't really know whether their husbands are circumcised or not. I do wonder whether your wife's complaints about your foreskin might be related to some deeper problem in your marriage. It could be that she is using it as an excuse not to have sex with you. So I do think that you and your spouse should start talking about this 'floppy foreskin' problem. And if you can't sort it out, then you should definitely seek help from a marriage counsellor. However, if you feel that you really have to do something about your foreskin, then a surgeon could certainly circumcise you. Alternatively, he could perform a milder operation, which just trims a little bit of skin away.

Q I have been married for nearly 20 years and recently I have noticed that, when we have sex, he is producing less fluid than he used to. I suspect that his 'man fluid' is going elsewhere. Doc, does this indicate that he is cheating on me with another woman?

A No, it certainly doesn't. I must inform you that, as men get a little older, they produce slightly less seminal fluid. That is how it is! So there is not the slightest evidence to suggest that your husband is cheating.

Q I am a 35-year-old male, Doc. How would I know if something was wrong with my prostate? What are the symptoms?

A I think it is pretty unlikely that you are getting prostate enlargement at such a young age. Anyway, the main symptoms in the early stages are:

  • Dribbling of urine;
  • A poor stream of urine;
  • Having to rush to the bathroom to urinate;
  • Getting up a lot at night.

I presume you must have some kind of symptoms, because otherwise you would not be asking me. So why not check with your local doctor?

Q Doctor, my first husband was tragically killed by a car when we were both 19. For years after, I didn't have sex with anyone. But now I have remarried.  My problem is that sex is not going very well. I seem to be 'tight', and find it really difficult to relax. My husband is good and kind and uncomplaining. But he does think that I am a little 'dry'. I am 32. Could it be an early menopause?

A That is unlikely at your age. It is much more probable that the problem is that you have not had sex for so long. Many women who have not had sexual intercourse for 10 or 15 years find everything a little difficult, or even painful, when they resume. It is hard for them to relax, and the results are:

  • The muscles around the vagina 'close down' when they should be opening up;
  • The natural juices do not flow properly.

What can you do about this? Well, your first action should be to go to a pharmacy and buy a tube of lubricant. Most of them stock a popular type called K-Y Jelly. Alternatively, there are lots of other sex lubricants available on the Internet. Use a lot just before having sex, putting some on your husband as well. Also, you should explain to him that he must give you at least 10 minutes of foreplay before he attempts to enter you. If it doesn't improve, I recommend that you consult a female doctor. She will examine you and teach you ways to relax your pelvic muscles. Good luck.