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Heart To Heart

Monday, September 10, 2018

Smegma
I often see a white cheesy substance collected between the outer lips (labia majora) and inner lips (labia minora) of my vagina. I do not have any STD. It looks and smells foul. I fear it may come in the way of our sexual pleasure if my partner notices it. Is there any way to prevent getting this white substance?

Normally the vagina secretes a clear or whitish fluid to cleanse itself and maintain a healthy environment in that area. Any changes in normal vaginal secretions (color, smell, consistency etc.) indicate the presence of an infection for which you might have to visit your doctor.

What you have described in your question sounds similar to the cheesy substance noticed by men under the foreskin (smegma) of uncircumcised penises. Smegma is a natural lubricating residue made up of dead skin cells, skin oil secretions (sebum), and moisture, including sweat. Its appearance can vary in color from off-white to a darker shade, depending on an individual's skin color. Smegma gets collected in the nooks and crevices of the body's skin folds, including between the labia majora and minora and around the clitoral hood. Smegma is known for is its distinctive odor. If the build up of smegma is troublesome, it can be washed away easily with plain or warm water. As the mucosal skin of the vulva is sensitive, it is best to avoid applying soap while cleaning it.

Without vulnerability you cannot have love
I am a 25-year old man about to leave the country for higher studies for about a year. A few months back, I met a girl and we became great friends. However I'm slowly realising that I'm developing feelings for her and see her as someone I can spend the rest of my life with. I don't know if it's fair for me to ask her to wait for me to come back and then take it forward and neither do I think I should get engaged to her right now. Of course, I don't even know how she feels for me although I do know she likes me a lot. I wouldn't want to ruin a great friendship by telling her my feelings. I'm confused to say the least!

You say you see her as ‘someone you can spend the rest of your life with’. This means that there is something special in this friendship, and this does not come by so easily. You are fortunate that you have such a friendship, and you should value it enough to share your feelings and be vulnerable, because without vulnerability you cannot have love in your life. It is true that a long distance relationship can be very challenging; however, no one said you do not pay a price for love. It is important that you express your true feelings and ask her to honestly share what she feels too. It is also imperative that you tell her that you are aware of the challenges ahead if you’ll decide to take it further, and that you do not want to pressure her one way or the other, and also that you cherish the friendship too much to allow it to be sabotaged by anything. If you do not communicate your feelings you could be plagued with the question, ‘What if?’ forever. Also know that if she does not reciprocate, it in no way means you are not lovable, but only that her dream is different. Remember, it is better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all.

Frequent tearing of foreskin
I got married three months back. After we have sex, my husband often develops small tears and abrasions around the opening of his foreskin, despite the fact that we use lubrication. Why is this happening and how can we prevent it? In addition, once the tears heal, the scars are more prone to injury once we have sex again. Is there any way to end this cycle?

It is difficult to identify what could be causing this painful situation, because there are various possibilities. To begin with, let the tears and abrasions heal completely before you attempt your next sexual encounter involving penile penetration. Second, consider that there may be a possibility that your husband is allergic to something such as a condom, a lubricant or even your own natural vaginal secretions. Try using condom if you think that the vaginal secretions are causing the irritation. If you suspect that it is the condom that you use is responsible, then try using a different brand of condom or get ‘polyurethane’ condoms instead of latex ones or vice versa. If the lubricant is the cause, try another one.

Your husband my also have accumulated smegma underneath the foreskin of his penis. If smegma builds up, it can form a crust and pull at the foreskin, tear the foreskin, and encourage the growth of infective micro-organisms. This may or may not be happening with your husband, however, proper hygiene by washing the penis underneath the foreskin regularly is very important and can help the cuts and abrasions heal faster.

A sexually transmitted infection could also be the cause of the irritation and the abrasions that your husband is getting. Do get him tested for common sexually transmitted infections. If the problem persists, it will be better to take professional help in person.

Pre-marital sexual expectations
My boyfriend wants to have sexual intercourse with me, but I am a virgin and want to get married before entering into any kind of physical relationship. But, he says that nobody waits anymore and pre-marital sex is very common. I am totally confused. He is great guy and I have a lot of fun with him. However, the fact remains that I am not comfortable with the idea of pre-marital sex, and he wants it to happen. Also, I don’t want my decision to hurt our relationship. What should I do?

You say he is a ‘great guy and that you have fun with him’. Is he also a loving, caring, nurturing, mature, and understanding person? That is the question! You say that your intimacy values permit you to share your body in sexual intimacy only in a committed, meaningful and lasting relationship. You not only have every right to subscribe to these values and act in accordance with them, but also to communicate how important these values are to you, and that if he truly cared he would respect the same. If your decision of waiting till marriage upsets him to the point that he holds your relationship hostage, and threatens to break off if you do not engage in pre-marital sex, then you are better off without him. This could be the litmus test for him, his maturity and understanding, as well as about what he values more in this relationship with you. However, if after some pouting on his part, he respects your decision to wait, then you would know that this relationship with him is worth building on.

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