The Sexuality Advisor, Issue #1

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Column #1 - May 1, 2000

Welcome to The Sexuality Advisor, a new feature at! Every other week, we'll answer a few questions about sex, love, and relationships submitted by our readers.

Response to our call for questions has been terrific so far! Regretfully, we cannot answer every letter individually. Whether or not your question is answered in this forum, you can be sure that your email address and question will be kept strictly confidential. We reserve the right to edit the letters we publish for readability and length.

Dyeing Pubic Hair

Do you know if it is possible to safely dye one's pubic hair? I want to go blond for the summer, but I don't want to harm myself. I can't seem to find the answer to this question anywhere. When I discreetly commented on the subject to someone who was dying my eyebrows, she commented that that sort of thing was for "professional" girls only.

Seems pretty harmless to me actually. I'd love an answer soon because my 10th anniversary is coming up in seven days and I thought I'd surprise my husband...

Thanks so much,

Dear CS,

Happy Anniversary! I'm certain it's possible to safely dye pubic hair. My only real concern would be to keep the dye chemicals away from the sensitive tissues of your vulva. Since that may be a little tricky to maneuver yourself, it might be a good idea to find an adventurous hairdresser to actually do the tinting. And since pubic hair is oftentimes of a different color and texture from head hair, you may or may not get the results you want from using a do-it-yourself kit. Do you think your regular colorist would warm up to the idea if you told her you meant it as a surprise for your husband? Maybe you should call around to other salons (in another town, perhaps, if you're very paranoid) and see if they're more receptive to the idea.

It's too bad your regular colorist gave you what I gather was a judgemental reply to your query. Just because someone's adventuresome about body decoration--or, heavens! wants to bring a little off-the-wall spice to her sex life--doesn't mean she's a prostitute. Sex is fun, and also funny, and a sense of humor and an adventurous streak are two of the most important qualities in a good lover.

I'm sure CS will have a great time on her anniversary, no matter what color you have lurking behind your panties. Only her hairdresser will know for sure...

Erection Awkwardness

Hello there. I'm a 22 year old man. A couple of months back I fell in love with this beautiful girl who is also crazy about me. We are so close (mentally) to each other, we don't treat each other as different! We have not talked about doing nor have we done anything physically.

The problem is that whenever we are close to each other, even sitting and holding each other's hand, I get this hard-on I'm very ashamed of. Even thought I love her mentally more than physically, my penis doesn't seem to understand my real mind. And because of this I'm so embarrassed and same time frightened to hug her and get even close to her. I cannot stand it if she finds out my cock is playing wicked games on me! Please give me advice on this as I love this girl more than anything in this world.

PS: By the way her sweet name is S.

Dear V.,

What a sweet letter! Your love and tenderness for your girlfriend shine right through. I'm sure your admiration and care are just as evident to her. She's obviously a very lucky woman!

It's perfectly natural to be aroused by the presence, or even the very thought, of a loved one--especially in those heady first few months of a romance. And even if you're enchanted with every aspect of her being and not just interested in sex.

Do you think she'll be offended or otherwise disapproving if she is aware of your erection, the irrepressible physical manifestation of your desire? Maybe the thing to do is, on an occasion when it seems you're about to get close enough that she might notice, is to tell her, gently, before you embrace. Tell her that you find her presence very arousing, and that while you're embarrassed to say so, you're having quite a physical response. Tell her that the last thing you want to do is to make her uncomfortable, and let her know that while you'd like to get closer, it's OK if she doesn't want to. That seems like a respectful way to convey the fact of your arousal and to give her the opportunity to encounter it or not.

Most women, by the time they're in their twenties, know that men don't have conscious control over their erections. Don't be ashamed. Chances are your girlfriend will be flattered that she's provoked such a strong response.

Best of luck together!

Could I be pregnant?

A couple of weeks ago I had sex with my boyfriend and I am really scared about getting pregnant. Would I already know if I was pregnant? It has been like 3 weeks. Also, is it possible to get pregnant by making out with someone with his penis near your vagina? Please answer quickly. Thanks so much.

Few things in life are more nerve-wracking than wondering whether or not you (or your lover) is pregnant. I definitely feel for you!

My first thoughts are: were the two of you using a contraceptive method? And were you using it correctly? Most contraceptive methods, if used correctly and consistently, have very high rates of effectiveness. (Sometimes effectiveness of contraceptives is presented in terms of two rates: effectiveness if used correctly and consistently, and effectivess is used by a "typical user". The latter number is always lower, and reflects what happens when people use the method wrong, or "forget" to use it, or decide not to use it "just this once". The moral of this story is that if you don't want a pregnancy, make sure you know how to use your contraceptive correctly, and use it each time you have sex.)

If you didn't use a contraceptive, and you don't want to get pregnant, I cannot urge you strongly enough to find out about what contraceptive options are available to you and to use them. This applies to both you and your boyfriend. You're both having sex, so you're both responsible for contraception. Sex with a lover can be just about the best fun around, but it is an adult pleasure, meaning that it can result in some weighty consequences. This very site is rich in information about how to prevent sexually transmitted diseases, and Planned Parenthood has an excellent site with lots of great information about contraceptive options. Please, please be responsible.

So, if you didn't use birth control, will you get pregnant? It's mostly a matter of timing. Generally speaking, you're most likely to get pregnant from intercourse that takes place within the few days before ovulation, so your likeliness of getting pregnant from having sex a few weeks ago depends on where you were in your menstrual cycle. Unfortunately, for humans it's not terrifically obvious when ovulation is imminent (compared to, say, dogs or cats, where every such beast in the neighborhood knows when the females are fertile). In a "textbook" menstrual cycle, ovulation occurs fourteen days before the onset of menstruation. So if you have the "textbook" 28-day cycle, counting the first day of your last menstrual period as day #1, you should ovulate on day #15, and if you don't get pregnant you should menstruate on day #29 (which is day #1 of the next cycle). If your period is typically longer or shorter than 28 days, adjust accordingly. So if your periods are generally regular, you can do some back-calculation to get an estimation of whether that act of intercourse occurred before you likely ovulated.

But that's just an estimation. Here in the real world, though, many womens' menstrual cycles don't conform to that "textbook" ideal. Some ovulate earlier or later than day #15. Sometimes there are fewer than fourteen days between ovulation and menstruation. And, to complicate matters further, a woman's fertility is also dependent on hormonally-induced changes in the vaginal environment that make it more or less hospitable to sperm. Women who are less fertile produce small amounts of the slick, almost egg-white-like cervical fluid that are so kind to sperm, but women who are very fertile can fairly drip with the stuff. Which leads to your next question: it's not very likely that you'll get pregnant if you make out with his penis near but not in your vagina, but it's not out of the realm of possibility, either. Men typically ooze a few drops of pre-cum during sex, and (in fertile men) it carries live sperm. If his juicy bits rub against your juicy bits when you're at a particularly fertile point in your cycle, then those sperm may be able to swim up your reproductive tract and get you pregnant. Even if you never have penis-in-vagina intercourse.

So, to sum up: if you absolutely, positively DO NOT want to cause a pregnancy or to become pregnant, use a contraceptive each and every time you have intercourse, and be mindful about contact between penis and vagina even if you're not going to have intercourse. For more in-depth information about womens' fertility, I wholeheartedly recommend Taking Charge of Your Fertility by Toni Weschler. This book should be on every woman's bookshelf.

Finally, to the author of the question: I sincerely hope the situation turns out as you wish.

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