Since 1970, Australian teenagers have had all their burning questions answered by Dolly Doctor (or at least giggled at other people’s). Here are some of the very, er, best from over the years…
1. Is throat thrush a thing?
Q. I have an irritating itch in my throat after giving my good friend’s boyfriend a blow job in the movies. I am scared to tell my mother as she is friends with my boyfriend’s mother and I am sure he will find out about what I’ve done. Is there such a thing as throat thrush? It flared up about two weeks ago and has since returned. I am 15 years old.
A. Oral sex means stimulating each other’s genitals with your mouth or tongue, such as giving a blow job. Although oral sex is a normal sexual activity practised by many people, there is a risk of spreading some sexually transmitted diseases such as gonorrhoea, hepatitis B, and possibly the AIDS virus. Often there are no symptoms of such infections, but a sore throat may occur. Also, stress through feeling guilty or worrying about the possibility of an infection can result in an irritating feeling in your throat. If the problem persists you should go and see your doctor or go to an STD clinic where the advice you will receive is free and confidential.
2. Should I do porn?
Q. I am a 14-year-old model and I have been offered a pornographic job with a well-known magazine. The money is extremely good and I think it would be good experience for me, but my agent doesn’t want me to do it. Should I do the job and forget about my agent or simply take my agent’s advice?
A. Fortunately, your agent is sensible. While there will always be girls who are willing to do this kind of work, you should realise that what is acceptable to you today can harm your career tomorrow. In other words, if you are serious about a modelling career, doing pornographic work, for any magazine, can have a nasty rebound effect on you long after the money has gone. A typical example of this is the recent nude photos of Madonna. While they weren’t strictly pornographic or offensive, they weren’t exactly the image the star wanted to project years later. So no matter how attractive the money might seem now, think about your future.
3. Are my ovaries OK?
Q. I’ve heard that you could damage your reproductive system if you water-ski without a wetsuit on. Is this true? I have been skiing without one and I’ve had cramps near my ovaries. Should I have a checkup? I don’t want to because my parents don’t know that I’ve been skiing and would be angry if they found out.
A. It is very unlikely that you could damage your reproductive system by water-skiing without a wetsuit. I guess you’re worried about a jet of water entering your vagina. Even when your legs are apart, on skis, your vulva (vaginal entrance) stays fairly well closed. However, a sudden rush of air into your vagina can be harmful, not by damaging your reproductive system but by causing collapse. A sudden rush of cold water, if it were to get in, could possibly have the same effect. So it might be safer, in fact, to wear a wetsuit. I don’t think you need to have a checkup on account of skiing. If your pains persist, they are probably due to some other problem, and would certainly justify a checkup.
4. Is dope healthier than tobacco?
Q. I am 17 and have been smoking for about two years. With all the fuss about cigarettes and lung cancer recently, I decided to stop smoking tobacco and use marijuana instead. All my friends smoke dope and they assure me it is not harmful. What do you think?
A. Any form of smoking, be it tobacco or marijuana is harmful – the long-term adverse effects of marijuana have yet to be assessed. I believe both are very harmful to your health, short and long term, for any kind of smoke is injurious to the delicate breathing mechanism. I am not saying “Do not smoke”. I am suggesting that if you wish to get the most out of life, you will stop smoking totally and forever.
5. What’s with tampons?
Q. I’ve started wearing tampons and was wondering if I can go to the toilet without removing it?
A. You don’t have to remove the tampon to go to the toilet. A tampon is inserted into your vagina, which lies between the urethra (the tube from the bladder to the outside) and the anus (the opening of the rectum). If you’re not sure, it might help to have a look with a mirror so you get a better idea of what’s happening with your body.
6. Am I too young for love?
Q. I’m 10 years old and my mum thinks I’m too young to have a boyfriend. She won’t let me see my boyfriend, who is the same age as me, and I don’t want to lose him or hurt my mum’s feelings. What should I tell him?
A. How about compromising? Ask your mum if your boyfriend can visit you at home, where your mum can keep an eye on you both. That way at least you’ll see him, and your mum might even get to like him! You can prove to your mum that you and your boyfriend are not only trustworthy, but also mature enough to accept the limitations of your age. Talk to your boyfriend about this idea. If he’s an OK guy, he’ll understand your position and agree to compromise too.
7. Am I a fashion victim?
Q. I really like chunky black shoes, striped socks up to your knees, and big shorts, but when I wear them to school, people laugh and start teasing me. I really hate this, so I usually end up wearing ordinary clothes that I don’t like very much. How can I stop them teasing me? Upset.
A. Can you help it if you’re a trendsetter? You can’t stop people being narrow-minded and petty, so if they really are getting too much for you, consider these options. Assert yourself – let them know you’re an individual, not a sheep. Or simply admit it’s too much to cope with at school on top of your studies and just dress like the sheep. Maybe it’s best to strike a balance between what you love wearing and “normal” clothes. For example, wear your shoes and socks with a skirt, instead of your shorts. Meanwhile, try hanging around with people at school who aren’t afraid to be themselves.
8. How to get rid of pubic lice?
Q. About a year ago I had pubic lice. I was too scared to tell anyone so I poured a lice control dog wash over the area. Just recently it has come back. I would like to know if the wash harmed me and if I can buy a proper wash or cream from a chemist without a prescription. Concerned.
A. If the wash you used did not burn, and you obviously didn’t absorb enough to make you ill, I think you can stop worrying about it. You can buy lice treatments over the counter from your chemist, without a prescription. For pubic lice, a shampoo such as Lyban foam would be useful. Your chemist can show you what’s in stock, and will explain how to use it.
9. Can I drink and take No Doze?
Q. I am 16 and go out a lot at night. As a result I don’t get much sleep, so have started to take “No Doze” tablets to help me stay awake during the day. Are these tablets dangerous, and is it possible to still drink alcohol whilst taking them?
A. Anybody taking nerve stimulating pills to keep awake during the day due to stupidity in having successive late nights needs their brain examined. Be sensible. Wake up to yourself. Growing teenagers need eight hours sleep every night to assure continued good health and normal development. You can fool yourself but you cannot fool nature. Do not take daytime nerve stimulants, and certainly do not take alcohol with any form of medication, doctor orders or otherwise. The combinations are bad, bad news.
10. Is it OK to love my cousin?
Q. Is it wrong to be in love with your first cousin? I’m 18 and I’m attracted to my cousin, who is six years older than me, and I don’t know what to do about it. Would it be considered incest if I married him and had his children? Could you tell me if people ever marry their cousins?
A. Yes, marriage between cousins does happen and it’s quite legal. The other good news is that you wouldn’t be committing incest if you married your cousin. Incest is generally defined as sex occurring between an adult member and an under-age member of the same family, where the adult is taking advantage of the child. You and your cousin certainly don’t fit into that category! If you have any legal questions, they can be answered by the chamber magistrate at your local courthouse.
11. Will my boobs sag?
Q. I am 14 years old and have heard that wearing a bra while my breasts are developing will cause them to sag. I feel more comfortable wearing a bra, but this has discouraged me. Is this true?
A. Your fears are totally unfounded, and if you feel better wearing a bra, use one by all means. Breasts are essentially developing milk glands and fat. If you suddenly decide to lose weight when your breasts are developed, sagging is common, for being of soft texture, breast fat readily vanishes. Ideally, keep off high kJ foods (those containing sugars and refined flours), which will help prevent general excess weight, so that your body in general and breasts in particular will remain trim and taut. Exercising daily is also a good idea.
12. Do pools have AIDS?
Q. Is it possible to catch AIDS from a public swimming pool? My mum won’t let me go to the local pool because she says she is certain I will catch AIDS but I don’t think she is right. Is she?
A. It is impossible to catch AIDS from normal use of a public swimming pool. It is now quite well established how AIDS is transmitted, and swimming pools and normal social living are not amongst the methods. Very close personal contact… and infection via contaminated blood, such as from using another person’s needles which have been unsterilised, are amongst the known methods. Really, the experts now say that apart from the known methods, the germ is not highly infectious, much less so than the virus causing the common old cold. You can swim in peace, and have no fears.
13. Are tanning pills OK?
Q. My friend has been taking tanning pills as if they were lollies. Can you give me some information on them and tell me if they have any side effects?
A. Most of the “suntanning” pills have been taken off the market. I guess that has to make you a bit wary. There are still some available, without prescription. They are not really tanning pills, as they don’t alter the sun’s effects on browning. They pigment your skin yellow-orange, with no difference between areas exposed or not exposed to the sun. They often contain elements which are not necessary, e.g. zinc, copper, manganese, but not in sufficient amounts to cause harm. The yellow colour comes from a carotene compound, which contains vitamin A. Excess vitamin A can cause general skin yellowing, including the palms of the hands and soles of the feet. Vitamin A overdose is possible, but does no irreversible damage. If she suffered an overdose, your friend would probably have nausea, vomiting and drowsiness. I don’t think this is a problem, but you could make your friend aware of the possibility. And maybe you could persuade her not to introduce unnecessary chemicals into her body – we often don’t know long-term side effects until it’s too late.
14. How can I stop crabs?
Q. I have a really embarrassing problem – I have crabs. When I am in the company of my girlfriends and I start to scratch it gets embarrassing. But I can’t help it as I get very itchy. What can I do to get rid of the crabs?
A. Crabs, also known as pubic lice, are the size of a pin-head and cling to pubic hair and sometimes chest and underarm hair. These grey lice can be passed from one person to another through close physical contact such as sex or by sharing bed linen or clothing. Although they aren’t dangerous they can cause itching which may result in a red rash. Treatment is simple. Lotions can be bought from your local chemist. The bottle will contain instructions on use. Your partner and other people in the house should also be treated. Clothing and bed linen should be washed in hot water at the time of treatment and again one week later. If the itching persists after the treatment there may be another problem, so you should visit a doctor. If the crabs were caught sexually you should be checked for other possible sexually transmitted diseases, especially if a condom wasn’t used.
15. Why did my hair change colour?
Q. Recently I had to spend six months in hospital. Before I went in I had curly dark blond hair. Now it’s straight and dull brown. What has happened to my hair and how can I make it healthy again?
A. If you had to spend a long time in hospital, I assume you were seriously ill. Maybe you had an operation and a general anaesthetic. All of these are major stresses on your body. Your hair will respond to a major physical stress often by changing its body, lustre or colour. This is usually temporary. The hair that started growing after you left hospital should be much healthier and you should notice an improvement after about three months. It may, however, stay a darker shade.
16. How can I stop wetting myself?
Q. I’m 14 and I have a rather embarrassing problem. Every time I laugh I wet my pants. I put my jumper around my waist to hide it, but it smells.
A. This is called stress incontinence. You should also notice it when you cough, sneeze or exercise. It’s unusual in a girl your age, and suggests a problem with the shape of your bladder. The most effective way of fixing it is an operation, but it would have to be very severe to justify that. There are several things you can do to help yourself. Try to keep your bladder empty. Go to the toilet whenever you can. When you do, sit a few minutes longer and try to go again (this is called double voiding). Wear a mini-pad or panty-liner to avoid the embarrassment of wet clothes. You should also do pelvic muscle exercises, to tighten the muscles that close off your bladder. At least 200 times a day (!!), slowly squeeze, as if trying to stop the flow of urine, and then let the muscles go. You can do these exercises anywhere – on the bus, watching TV – and no one will know.
17. To spit or swallow?
Q. I have sex regularly and often get embarrassed about oral sex. Can you tell me what I should do when the guy ejaculates? Should I swallow the semen or spit it out? If I swallow it, what happens to it? Confused.
A. There are no rules about what to do. You can spit the semen out if you don’t like to swallow it – that’s your choice. You can swallow it if you want to. Semen contains sugar and secretions designed to nourish the sperm (up to 5 per cent of semen
ejaculated is sperm), and it definitely can’t harm you. If you choose to swallow it, it
simply goes into your stomach and is digested along with other food. Some guys are turned on by having the semen swallowed – maybe you could ask your boyfriend, if you don’t care either way.