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Hey, Faggot:

I am a 19-year-old male. Three months ago I began going out with my best friend of three years. Just before we started dating, she told me she has genital herpes. I love her, so I am staying with her. My chances of catching herpes from her seem slim, and we use as much protection as we can. She takes Valtrex twice a day and has not had an outbreak since her first. She had two boyfriends between me and the guy who gave her herpes, and she didn't tell them about her condition. They had unprotected sex numerous times, and neither contracted herpes from her (so far as we know). We never have sex without a condom and a spermicide, and I always wash my genitals after sex (www.herpes.com says soap and water kills herpes germs).

Nevertheless, I live in fear. Every time I feel a slight ache in my groin I rush to a bathroom to check myself. I have been to the clinic twice thinking I had it. I won't drop the love of my life, especially when so many relationships like ours have worked out fine (with the uninfected partner never catching herpes). I know you can't tell me I won't ever catch herpes (which is really what I want to hear), but what are my chances of catching it under these circumstances? And how best to deal with this, psychologically speaking?

--Confused

Hey, C:

Your chances of catching herpes from your girlfriend, under your circumstances, are pretty slight. But low as they are, there is still a chance. Psychologically speaking, you can obsess about the tiny risk you're taking, letting it ruin your life and your relationship, or you can accept the risk, continue to take precautions, and make up your mind to stop being such a paranoid dope. After all, what are you so afraid of? Herpes is, hysteria aside, a relatively minor problem in the lives of the vast majority of the people who "suffer" from it.

If you do get infected, you'll have a treatable, though not curable, sexually transmitted disease that tens of millions of other Americans have. Most infected people show no symptoms, and most don't know they have it. For herpes "sufferers" who do experience symptoms, the inconvenience of the disease--the occasional outbreak--is often less stressful than time spent coddling paranoid lovers who fear herpes out of all proportion to the actual impact it has on your life.

Think about it: your girlfriend, a herpes "sufferer," had one outbreak and takes two pills a day. That's it, that's the total physical impact herpes has on her. Psychologically speaking, however, she's had to come to grips with having an STD for the rest of her life and deal with the guilt of not informing her boyfriends prior to you, and now she has to live with a boyfriend who jumps out of bed and boils his dick immediately after sex. Her psychological suffering is greater than the physical suffering, don'tcha think?

While I'm not recommending you or anyone else intentionally contract herpes--and you should continue to take reasonable precautions--I don't know what you're so afraid of.

Hey, Faggot:

I am a 28-year-old female graduate student. I met my current boyfriend nine months ago while I was living in his tropical country. We started living together after the second week of dating, and our sex life was incredible: every day, every room, every position, every other hour. I moved back home after four months, and he was supposed to join me three weeks later. However, extenuating circumstances prevented him from coming for three months. He has been here for two months now, and we've had sex a grand total of five times! He also will not let me see or touch his penis because he says it is dry and peeling from the hot air in my house!

I have tried everything to turn him on, including sex toys and secret herbs, but nothing works. What could be the problem here and what can I do? --AWE

Hey, AWE:

It's only a hunch, but maybe your tropical boyfriend has a sexually transmitted disease. If he wasn't celibate during the months cruel circumstance kept you fuck-monkeys apart, perhaps a woman he messed around with--how many grad students visit his part of the tropics every year?--gave him an STD. If he arrived in America with a sore on his cock or a pussy discharge issue (pussy as in green goo, not slang for "vagina"), it could be that he's simply too embarrassed or ashamed to say anything.

It's the only explanation that makes sense of him not wanting you to see or touch his cock. The dry-air excuse is a little lame, and I'm shocked that a smart girl like you--a grad student!--would fall for it. I mean, if he were suffering from dry dick, why wouldn't he want to stick it in your soakin' wet pussy every other hour? And you could easily deprive him of the dry-dick excuse by buying him a bottle of Vaseline Intensive Care.

Many people with STDs are too embarrassed to seek treatment and too ashamed to inform their partners (for fear of their partners overreacting; see letter above). If he does have an STD, he may be hoping his symptoms will go away--and if he waits long enough, they might. If his sores heal or the pussy discharge dries up, he may go back to fucking you every other hour with his symptom-free, though not bug-free, cock. He'll still have an STD, and he'll still be able to pass it to you--if he hasn't already.

When he's least expecting it, ask him, "Do you have a sexually transmitted disease?" If you catch him off guard, he may be too stunned to lie or to lie convincingly. Then make him show you his cock, and even if there aren't any visible sores or discharge, make him see a doctor.

Hey, Faggot:

I'm a 46-year-old male who has a thing for younger women. Recently I started a physical relationship with a 22-year-old at work. I was worried I wouldn't be able to keep up, but when we first had sex, she dried out very quickly--in like, say, ten minutes. I had to finish the job, but since she wasn't lubricated I really tore myself up: the dreaded brush burn.

This happens every time I bed this girl. She is good orally, but her "dry well" is killing me. She tells me I'm doing everything right, and doesn't know what the problem is. What say ye? --Pittsburgh

Hey, P:

Use lube, say me.

Hey, Faggot:

I am responding to Satisfied but Sore, the 30-year-old breeder chick with the 50-year-old boyfriend/lover who has a delayed-ejaculation problem. I've dated a number of 50ish guys who suffered from the very same problem. Most of these men had something in common: they were taking high-blood-pressure medication! Blood-pressure meds are the leading cause of delayed and impaired ejaculation or failure to ejaculate. Regardless of the intensity of the stimulation, and no matter if the man was masturbating himself, the men I dated who were taking these meds all had ejaculation problems! If this woman's boyfriend is taking blood-pressure medication, he should go to his doctor and discuss the problem. --Babette

Send questions to Savage Love, Chicago Reader, 11 E. Illinois, Chicago 60611.

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