Your Sex Questions Answered (Jan, 1959)
I have a feeling that in the 1950s Sexology was one of the few places people could get reasonable, non-judgmental, fact-based help about sexual issues.
Your Sex Questions Answered
The purpose of the QUESTION AND ANSWER DEPARTMENT is strictly educational. All answers are made by a medical authority and are based on recorded experiences of similar cases.
When writing, please observe the following rules. Letters must be signed with your name and address. All names and addresses are Kept strictly confidential. Use TYPEWRITER or ink. Please be brief and write legibly. USE A SEPARATE SHEET FOR EACH QUESTION.
Because of the time required for publication, several months must elapse before an answer can appear here. SEXOLOGY cannot prescribe medical remedies, nor can we forward your mail to other correspondents.
No sexological information can be given to minors, unless married. If not married, state that you are over 21.
NOTE: For a prompt personal answer by mail, a charge of 50 CENTS PER QUESTION is made to cover stenographic and typewriting charges, handling expenses, etc. Please include a stamped and self-addressed envelope. Address all letters for this department to:
David O. Cauldwell, M.D.,Sc. D.
Editor, Question and Answer Dept.
SEXOLOGY, 154 West 14th St., New York City 11
(M) – Male
(F) – Female
• Plastic Organs (5049)
Sir: I am 36 years of age and my husband and I want children desperately. However, he doesn’t want to adopt any. We both know of several cases that didn’t turn out quite as they were expected to, and while I am willing to ignore this and adopt a child I still can’t convince my husband that this is right.
I can’t have any children because I had an operation when I was 29 years old and everything was removed except my womb. The doctors said it was a healthy organ and since I was still comparatively young, he would leave it in.
I have heard that doctors are replacing missing organs with plastic or some synthetic materials, and that they do function as before. If this is true please advise me as to where I can secure the vital information concerning such an operation.
Mrs. D. M., Missouri
Not many organs of the body can function if any form of plastic is inserted in their stead. A plastic tube cannot replace a whole organ.
Plastic ovaries would be completely useless, since they could produce no cells. Without egg cells to meet spermatozoa, there can be no procreation.
If both you and your husband strongly desire children your only recourse is through adoption.
Adoption agencies are very careful in checking on the physical and mental health of the children in their care. It is true that some adopted children do not turn out the way their parents hope, but isn’t this equally true of children that are not adopted?
• Enlarged Vagina (5050)
Sir: I am a woman of 29 and have five children. I love my husband and wish to keep him happy.
Perhaps due to child bearing in six straight years or maybe other sources my vagina is now too large. My husband says he doesn’t get the satisfaction from marital relations that he used to get.
I would like to know if there is any kind of operation or maybe certain douches or medication or exercises that would help. It is really a serious problem with us.
Mrs. E. R., California
The best advice that we can give you is that you consult a surgical gynecologist, a good general surgeon or a plastic surgeon. If an operation which is known as perineoplasty is indicated, either such specialist can perform the operation and give you relief. Douches have very little value even on a temporary basis.
Exercises have sometimes been helpful when the muscles of the vagina are too relaxed. In such cases a device known as the perineometer, developed by Dr. Arnold H. Kegel, has been helpful. You may secure information about this from your own physician, or by writing to Dr. Kegel in care of this magazine.
• Supernumerary Nipples (5051)
Sir: My fiancee has two nipples, one right above the other on each of her breasts. Also there is a slight growth of hair in the region of the nipples.
Can this condition be corrected by surgery, and if so will it lessen the sensitivity of the remaining one? Will an operation have to wait until after she has given birth to a child so as to ascertain through which nipple milk will come?
Mr. H.W., New York
Your description is that of “supernumerary nipples.” These may occur anywhere on the body. The only treatment is surgical. Should your fiancee decide on an operation, it would not be necessary to wait until after the birth of a child.
A surgeon would know, upon examination, which nipple he should remove. The sensitivity of the remaining nipple should not be affected.
Sir: I am a seaman who spends a good part of the year at sea. A young friend of mine has asked me a question which I could not answer, but which I believe you can. We are quite friendly toward each other, and he tells me a lot about his past life. He will be eighteen in a couple of months.
His question: In the last few years he has engaged in self – gratification very much (I don’t know how often he meant). He is wondering whether this will have any effect upon his sex life in the future. He is wondering also how this would affect his married life.
Mr. L. J., Alaska
Your friend should not be concerned merely because he has indulged in self-gratification, and the practice by itself should not have any effect upon his future sex life or a future marriage. Doctors consider self-relief from sexual tension as a natural and not unhealthy practice both physically and mentally.
Of course there are some individuals to whom the practice becomes an obsession and serves as a substitute for sexual relations. Even in such cases it is not the practice which is harmful but the original emotional problem which is causing the person to substitute self-gratification for marital relations.
There is no indication in your letter that this is true in your friend’s case.
• Sexual Itching (5053)
Sir: I am a woman 47 years old and married. I have a chronic itch above the clitoris. Can you recommend any good ointment for this condition. I have tried everything but the ointments I have tried seem to be too bland.
Mrs. B. J., Penna.
There are many causes of itching, or pruritus. According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, the itching is sometimes psychologically caused, being due to sexual maladjustment. Scratching in such cases often serves as the equivalent of self-gratification.
There is also a menopausal pruritus, which sometimes responds to hormone treatment. Itching may also be a result of dryness of the skin or diabetes, etc.
Treatment in each case depends on the specific cause. Therefore it is important to see a doctor who can examine you personally.
• Impotence Appliance (5054)
Sir: Where may I obtain a successful appliance or device to compensate for complete male impotence?
Mr. T. B., Ohio
Such devices have not been approved by the medical profession even though many of them are on the market. Sometimes these devices have been found to be dangerous. No penile support made in this country can be recommended.
In England, a device known as the Coitus Training Apparatus has been developed which some physicians and psychiatrists used in connection with their treatment of male impotence. The device which is dispensed only by physicians is very difficult to obtain in this country.
The use of a penile support is a very controversial subject among sexologists. Most feel that reliance on such a device will prevent the individual from overcoming his impotence or getting rid of the basic causes. Some feel that a well made and properly-fitted support can be used effectively in the treatment of psychologically caused impotence.
• Spanish Fly (5055) Sir: What is the effect of Spanish Fly on a woman before, during and after intercourse? How long after it has been taken does it take to react? Is its use harmful either for male or female?
Mrs. F. G., Virginia
Cantharis, commonly called Spanish Fly, is not an aphrodisiac. It is a potent poison. It was formerly used in extremely small doses as a diuretic (that which increases the secretion of urine). There is positively no excuse for its use in medicine today.
It inflames the genito-urinary tracts and usually causes violent reactions in the individual taking the drug. The drug is very dangerous and the most competent medical treatment is required when a person is poisoned with cantharides, since it may cause death.
Many deaths have been observed after ingestion of cantharides. If it is applied to the male organ it may cause blistering and swelling of the penis.
• Urethral Stricture (5056)
Sir: I recently had a prostate operation, hoping that afterward I would have no urinary difficulty. However, I find that periodically I experience great pain and difficulty in urination. I am told that this is because of a “stricture” which has developed. Can you explain why this has happened. I am deeply distressed at having some of the same symptoms I had before the operation.
Mr. J. P., Illinois
A stricture of the urethra may occur at any point in the urethral canal. It indicates a narrowing or closure of the urethra at some point or a weakening of its power to distend.
Common causes of stricture are inflammation, resulting often from gonorrhea for example, or from some injury that may occur. In your case, injury may have resulted from the instruments introduced into the urethra during surgery.
When a stricture occurs, it is usually necessary to dilate the urethral passage by use of a dilator, or a sound as it is called. Sometimes periodic stretching is required, perhaps for the patient’s lifetime in difficult cases.
Symptoms of a stricture include marked diminution of the urinary stream, a forked or a spray urinary stream.
If strictures are neglected they may result in serious infections and damage, including kidney damage or even death.
Physicians now hope that they are close to achieving methods of treatment that can eliminate a condition that has been dangerous and baffling up till now.
• Pregnancy Problem (5057)
Sir: My age is 22 and I have been married for two years. In that time I have had trichomoniasis. I would like to know if that is the reason I cannot become pregnant. We would like to have children very much.
The doctor said that my fallopian tubes were stopped up and I have been taking treatment for that. If my fallopian tubes are blocked, how is it possible that I have a period each month?
Mrs. K. A., Illinois
Trichomonas vaginalis is not likely to be a factor in preventing motherhood.
If your fallopian tubes are blocked, surgery probably offers the best chance of correction, and surgery is not always effective.
A Rubin test may help because the injected gas may open the tubes. Talk to your doctor.
The fallopian tubes are not involved in menstruation. The menstrual flow comes entirely from the womb and is caused by the release of ovarian hormones into the bloodstream. Hence a woman menstruates even if her fallopian tubes have been removed.
• Broken Hymen (5058)
Sir: Is it possible for a girl to cause her hymen to be broken by inserting a tampon too far into her vagina, and are there any other causes for a broken hymen other than sexual intercourse?
Mr. H. R., Arkansas
Use of tampons most often will not tear the hymen, but cause a gradual dilation of it. However, it is possible for a girl to break her hymen by using tampons if she used considerable force and pressure.
It must be remembered that there are considerable variations in the size and type of female hymens. Whether or not tampons can be used by virgins depends on whether their hymeneal opening is large enough to permit the entry of the tampon.
According to available figures, the average hymeneal opening of the virgin is 3/4″ to 7/8″ in diameter. This is large enough to allow the standard, or at least the smaller, junior tampon. In case of any difficulty or pain in insertion, of course, the virgin should not use a tampon or should consult a doctor.
Neither the presence nor the absence of the hymen is a conclusive indication of virginity or the lack of it. There are numberless ways in which the hymen may be broken.
• Fetish? (5059) Sir: Several months ago our little daughter, age nine, took to wearing my very high-heeled shoes, the only kind of footwear I use.
No attention was paid to this in the beginning, since girls do It sometimes for fun, imitating their mothers. But when she persisted in her practice, we took special pains to stop it. But all the efforts to stop the habit were futile, the prohibition resulting in continuous grief and tears.
We are at a loss what to do. The doctors we consulted had nothing to suggest but strong measures or reasoning, all this giving negative results.
Can this be a fetish at this early age? She is perfectly satisfied wearing flat-heeled shoes in school, or outside, but it is only high heels at home.
What can we do? If she is to continue in high heels are they really harmful? Since this has happened, we have found that there are other families who have the same problem.
Mrs. F. J., California
What you have described indicates only that your nine-year-old daughter is still very much a child. Most young children delight in wearing adults’ clothing.
Such actions rarely indicate a development of fetishism. An attraction to an object, you must remember, is a fetish only when it is a symbol for a sexual object, and becomes necessary for sexual gratification.
It may be that your daughter will outgrow this phase in a short period. The problem is primarily that of discipline, which will have to depend on the kind of relationship you have with your daughter.
Constantly worn, high heels are a detriment to health. They put the body in an awkward position and are detrimental to spinal balance.
• Prolonged Coitus (5060)
Sir: I have observed that most writers on sex stress the importance of foreplay before intromission. Being without this experience I cannot agree or disagree, but many times the following question has come to my mind. Is there such a thing as the period of foreplay being too long? Also, is prolonged sexual union good or bad?
Mr. A. R., Penna.
To answer your second question first, prolongation is largely a matter of personal choice and capability on the part of the male to sustain an erection during prolonged play. Most men ejaculate several minutes after intromission.
Actually no answer to your question can be given that would apply to all men. The most accurate answer probably is that prolonged sexual union is good for some, not good for others and is possible for some and impossible for others.
The answer to your first question also depends upon the individual. An extended foreplay will cause some males to lose their erection through exhaustion or ejaculation, thus making intromission impossible. Too extended foreplay where friction is employed may irritate the tender membranes of both the male and the female, in some cases. Usually, husband and wife will be able to recognize the point at which they are ready for coitus.
• Insatiable Sex Desire (5061)
Sir: I am interested in knowing whether nymphomania (insatiable sex desire in a female) can be cured. If not, are there any ways by which the sex cravings can be lessened? Also, is this condition common among women?
Mrs. W.J., Illinois
Nymphomania by itself is not a disease which can be cured. Physicians today believe that it is usually a symptom of some kind of emotional disorder or psychological disturbance. What is necessary then is to treat the original emotional condition which is causing the excessive sexual craving which cannot be satisfied.
If the cause can be removed, the symptom of excessive sexual desire will also disappear.
It is very often a difficult condition to discover and treat and in many cases treatment is unsuccessful. Sex cravings can in some cases be lessened by drug or hormone therapy, taken on advice of a physician. Nymphomania cannot be said to be very common.
• Effect of Frequent Erection (5062)
Sir: I should like to know whether erection of the penis several times daily caused by excitement such as might be caused by dancing or touching or other forms of sex stimulation, but without ejaculation, is harmful to any part of the body.
Mr. L. J., Ohio
Erection several times a day or night without orgasm would usually not be likely to cause harm to any part of the body.
Constant sexual excitement over a lengthy period of time might bring about an emotional upset or a nervous condition, or possibly have an adverse effect on the prostate and related sex glands.
•Sex Ethics (5063)
Sir: Is it considered wrong in making love for embraces and acts other than intercourse to take place between a husband and wife?
Also would a husband’s oral-genital act have any effect on preventing pregnancy?
Mrs. T. B., California
Your questions involve problems both of ethics and of physiology. Oral-genital acts have no bearing at all on pregnancy, if they are followed “by coitus. Conception of course takes place only when the male sperm meets and fertilizes the female egg, usually in the fallopian tubes.
As to your question concerning whether these practices are wrong, we can only say this: All sexologists and many religious and ethical leaders agree that practices which are mutually agreeable to both the husband and the wife are in no way wrong and that acts which give gratification to both individuals involved are good and healthful acts.
The practices described in your letter are certainly as old as mankind and are very common today. They are in no manner unhealthy if both husband and wife are healthy and clean.
• Male Fertility (5064)
Sir: Is it possible for a man to be infertile at one period of his life and several years later to become fertile? Specifically, if a man should be told by a doctor that he is infertile and his wife should conceive, can he assume the child to have been that of another man? If several years later, however, the doctor said that he was now fertile and the wife conceived again, the child might be assumed to be his. Is this correct?
What tests are used to establish male fertility and is there any known medical treatment that will help an infertile male?
Mr. S. G., Louisiana
All men appear to undergo both fertile and infertile periods from time to time.
Establishing definite fatherhood is very complex and often impossible.
Your assumption that if a male is told that he isn’t fertile and his wife conceives the child is therefore the child of another man cannot be made either legally or medically, unless it could be proven that at the time of conception the husband was definitely sterile. Many men who are relatively infertile have been able to father children.
Methods of helping an infertile male include surgery in select cases, advice on diet, rest, relaxation, drinking and correction of glandular disorders.
Medical tests for male fertility include examination of the semen and prostate fluid, basal metabolism, blood count, Wassermann, urinalysis and testicular biopsy. Although the methods have been constantly improved, they have been in widespread use for many years. (See also “Disputed Paternity Cases,” page 369 of this issue.) – Editor on the foreskin of the male, are common to both sexes. It is best to consider them as being similar to wartlike growths on any other part of the body.
Many persons who have not had any sexual contact, including children, often get these warts.
Generally, the warts should not affect a person’s sexual habits unless they are present in great mass. Treatment of the condition by a physician is relatively simple. Some doctors apply a drug to shrink the growths; some resort to circumcision; others use electrical cautery.
•Homosexuality Problems (5069)
Sir: I am 22 years old and I just got out of the Air Force with an undesirable discharge for homosexuality.
Since I’ve got out of the Air Force I have had trouble getting a job. What I want to know is this: is there any way that I can get to be a normal person so that I can go out and get a good job and make a living?
I do not get any real satisfaction from any acts with other men. The doctor in the Air Force put me through four days of tests and he said that I had a fairly high intelligence and that I was mentally sound, but that my emotions were mixed up. He didn’t say how to get my emotions straightened out.
Mr. H.P., Maryland
Homosexuality has nothing to do with intelligence—many persons of very high degrees of intellect and ability in various fields have been homosexuals. It is also, in the opinion of most experts, not a disease that can be “cured.”
It is a deviation in sexual behavior, whose causes are not completely understood. A major factor which operates to cause this sex deviation is psychological conditioning. Other possible causes are failure to develop from an immature stage of sexuality, glandular disturbances, cultural pressure, a possible inherited predisposition and a lack of heterosexual outlet.
There are many degrees of homosexuality. The most scientific method of rating this was developed by the late Dr. Kinsey and his associates. This was a seven-point scale, which indicated a range from exclusively heterosexual to exclusively homosexual. It has been found that in the case of a person with a 100% homosexual orientation, treatment has had little effect in changing the nature of the individual’s sex drive. Treatment can, however, help such individuals in resolving many of the emotional disturbances accompanying homosexuality and help them to adjust better.
Where a person is bisexual, change has been effected in some cases, particularly where there is great desire to change, as in your case.
Treatment requires individual attention from trained medical and psychiatric personnel. Diagnosis and recommendations cannot be made in general and from afar. If you wish to change, it is important that you seek psychiatric help.
• Rh Factor (5070)
Sir: My wife and I have different Rh factors and blood types. My wife is Rh negative. I am Rh positive. We have three children. When the last child was bom the doctor expected complications because of the Rh factor and advised us not to have any more children. Since then my wife has had two incomplete abortions and I am much concerned about her health, and the health of the children. We have been told that an Rh baby either has a short life or is born with or acquires mental or physical diseases. Mv question therefore is: What effect does the Rh factor have on either the mother or child?
Because of the Rh factors involved between my wife and myself our doctor thinks it best that either my wife or myself become sterile. However, I have been told that sterilization tends to make a man ill-tempered and disagreeable. At present my disposition is not the best, nor is my wife’s. I would like to know whether sterilization has any ill effects, physical or emotional, upon a man or woman.
Mr. L. F., Penna.
Where the husband has Rh positive blood and the mother has Rh negative, scarcely five per cent of the mothers experience any trouble with their first child. However, having any more children may always present a serious problem, although you seem to have been very fortunate.
Any child born after the first may be stillborn, suffer from anemia, jaundice or possible mental retardation. Today in cases of blood incompatibility, doctors perform a blood – exchange when the child is born. All the defective blood of the child is drained out and simultaneously replaced by healthy new blood. If this proves successful, the babies can mature into healthy, normal adults, and there need be no ill effects in the mother.
Where such children are born without defects, there is no reason for any special concern for them or for the mother in future life.
As far as sterilization is concerned, it has no harmful physical effect. Its effect is merely to prevent conception. Sterilization of itself Would not make a man ill-tempered and disagreeable. The only change that has occurred is that the sperm cells produced in the testes no longer can travel through the sperm duct and be ejaculated.
What emotional effect there is depends entirely on the attitude of the man or woman toward the operation. Wrong attitudes can have undesirable effects, as they do in all other aspects of life.
• Useless Virility Products (5071)
Sir: I am 49 years of age and suffer from impotence in that I am hardly ever able to obtain an erection, and if so, cannot sustain it for more than a few moments. Apparently, there is nothing wrong organically as I frequently awaken at night with full erection. However, this goes away immediately after awakening.
Recently advertisements have come to me through the mails claiming that “Royal Jelly” will restore sexual vigor. Please let me have your opinion as to whether or not this may be of some help to me. I took testosterone orally and by injection for more than a year, but was unable to note any improvement.
Mr. L. C. W., Georgia
Many unscrupulous sellers trade on the fact that the man whose sexual power is waning will clutch desperately at almost anything which offers a hope of reviving his diminishing sexual vigor. They not only make fantastic claims but charge astronomical sums for a useless product. Unfortunately, there are no “miracle” foods that can restore potency, in spite of all the exaggerated claims that have been made for “Royal Jelly” and many other products. The effect of this bee food on virility has never been in any way tested scientifically on human beings, and even its claimed effects on the queen bee are not definitely established by medical experts.
Those individuals with virility problems should not waste large sums on unproven products but should seek out and be guided by competent medical advice.
• Wife’s Modesty (5072)
Sir: Although married more than nine years, my wife is still somewhat hesitant about disrobing in my presence. However, she is generally ready for marital relations when I am. Isn’t it unusual that after all these years she should still be modest?
Mr. L. T., Arizona
Many women have a great disinclination to disrobe in the presence of their husbands. Others will do so only in darkness. Usually the condition has nothing to do with modesty. This reluctance of a wife goes back to conditioning usually by an overanxious mother in teaching—often by bodily punishment—her young daughter what she considers proper.
Large numbers of individuals do not disrobe completely even during the intimacy of the sex act itself.
Many men on the other hand will not disrobe in the presence of their wives. Others—probably in the majority—prefer their wives to disrobe before the marital act. Another small percentage of men cannot perform the sex act or are temporarily impotent with robed partners. The nude body generally is more stimulating to the male than to the female.
The fact that your wife is hesitant about disrobing in your presence indicates her personal manner and preference. This is very good for some men —extremely bad for others. As you and your wife appear to be finding satisfaction in sex life in your marriage, no changes or departures from your present mode of living are indicated. Mutual concessions are always necessary. You are far better off than many married couples.
• Effects of Sex Activity (5073)
Sir: What effect does use or non-use of the sex organ have on sex vigor?
If a man lives a continent life, for one reason or another, and there is little sexual activity does vigor deteriorate? And conversely, does sexual activity strengthen sexual vigor?
It is well known that any part of the body which is not used deteriorates. And, I think that includes the brain. But particularly it does affect the muscles, legs, arms, etc.
So, I have wondered why some men are strong sexually and others weak.
Mr. A. R., California
You are quite right in saying that parts of the body like muscles, legs, arms, etc., which are not used will deteriorate and that exercise is necessary for them. But this applies only indirectly to sexual ability and vigor.
Sexual desire and ability, when the body is healthy, is based primarily on the attitudes of the male and his emotional feelings. Where an individual purposely does not engage in sexual activity and turns his attention deliberately elsewhere he will reach a stage where he is no longer interested in such activity and perhaps incapable.
Often soldiers or prisoners away from all sexual stimulation for long periods of time lose sexual ability and are temporarily impotent. But in these cases it is not so much the lack of exercise which causes deterioration but rather the emotional state which is brought about by a complete lack of sexual stimulation and interest over a long period of time.
Conversely, sexual activity may strengthen sexual vigor if the activity is successful and completely gratifying. Such activity would give the person an emotional outlook which would make it possible to react with greater sexual vigor.
If the sexual activity were unsuccessful and not gratifying, as for example in the case of many persons who ejaculate prematurely or who fail for some other reason, the result may be a weakening of sexual vigor rather than strengthening.