Quandary over condoms, IUD may be masking the real issue
The NuvaRing is a monthly vaginal insert that slowly releases estrogen. (Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images / July 19, 2012)
A: If your boyfriend has been tested and is disease-free, and you trust him not to have sex with anyone else, perhaps he would not be allergic to lambskin condoms. They prevent sperm from escaping, but viruses can pass through. He also could try silicone condoms.
Otherwise, an IUD and the NuvaRing are very effective at protecting you against an unintended pregnancy, but neither protects you against disease. And let me add one more thing: While it's admirable for you to admit that you don't trust yourself to take a daily pill, considering how many millions of women do, you might think about whether you are ready for sex. Having sex carries with it some responsibilities, and if you don't feel mature enough to swallow a daily pill, then maybe you need to wait to have sex.
Q: I've been in a relationship for six and a half years, and we've been living together for the past four and a half years. We are both divorced. I'm 41, and he's 48. I just found out that he has no desire to remarry — bad feelings from the first marriage failing and a not-pretty divorce, although he thought he'd get me a ring as a compromise.
I mentioned moving out and just continuing to date, but he won't date me if I move out, as he wants me all the time, says I'm his life partner, etc. — yet he won't make a full commitment. I'm not sure what to think about that comment. He hasn't popped the question, and I'm on the fence about just leaving altogether, as I feel that, from the comments he has made, I'm good enough to want to be with all the time, just not good enough to marry and call his wife.
A: This is not an uncommon problem, I know, but if I were in your shoes, I would look at the overall relationship and not just this one issue. I doubt that the idea of having children is an issue, so if you both really love each other, does it make sense to split up just because he won't marry you?
If you two have other relationship problems, that would be another matter — though if you do, I hope you don't think that getting married will solve them, because that's very unlikely.
Since I can't really tell what's going on from my vantage point, and you are upset about this, I suggest that you go to see a marriage/relationship counselor, even if he won't go with you. Hopefully someone who is trained in this field will be able to give you guidance after hearing all the details of your relationship.
Q: I'm 21 and believe I have erectile dysfunction. My penis just won't get hard. I've taken ExtenZe to try to help. It works slightly, but not like it used to. Any suggestions as to what I can do?
A: Assuming that you haven't gone through some major psychological trauma, like breaking up with your girlfriend, I would strongly suggest that you go for a complete medical exam. An erection is caused by blood flowing into the penis. At your age, you should be having no problem with this occurring. One possible reason could be that you are having circulatory problems of some sort. ED can be an early warning sign of that. So you need to rule out any physical cause for this issue you are having.
It could be psychological, and then it will go away on its own at some point, but if it is physical, it could be a sign of something much more dangerous to your overall health, so get a checkup as soon as you can.
If you're too embarrassed to tell the doctor why you are there, just say you want a complete physical so that your heart and circulatory system get checked out. If you are healthy, then you can worry about getting rid of the ED.
Q: I have been in a relationship with a man for five years, and this is something he mentioned in the past, but now it has come up again. My orgasm is accompanied by loud noises, and he feels embarrassed because he doesn't want the neighbors to know when we have sex. They don't necessarily hear anything, it's just him imagining that they do. If I try to control the noises I make, I can't have an orgasm; for me, it's all about letting go. When he tries to silence me, I lose focus. He says he can't go on like this. We've discussed this openly but haven't found a solution. What should we do?
A: You two seem to be at an impasse, so let's see if there are some practical solutions. One, try having some other sounds on that would drown out the noises you make — for example, have some music playing. That's what spies do in the movies when they don't want the bad guys to eavesdrop. I don't know which neighbors he's most worried about, but perhaps if you made love in another room, the adjoining wall wouldn't abut a neighbor's. And there certainly are ways of soundproofing a room. Adding carpeting, wall hangings or even going so far as adding the egg-crate material they put on walls of music studios would help to deaden the noise. While I understand each of your positions, to me it would be a shame if you broke up over this without first seeing if there was a practical solution.
"Dr. Ruth's Sex After 50" (Quill Driver Books) is Dr. Ruth Westheimer's latest book. Have a question for Dr. Ruth? Write to her at drruth.com.
Distributed by King Features Syndicate