Doing your duty

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Q: I am a 25-year-old female and I have been with the same guy for about 10 years now. He has a very healthy sexual appetite; I do not. Whether this is due to childbirth (I've heard that women sometimes lose their libido after children) or just plain old boredom, the problem remains. We have tried several times to come to some sort of compromise but no matter how hard I think I'm trying, he is still unsatisfied. We recently got into an argument because I fell asleep without performing my duties. I am also a full-time employee and a part-time student. How can I explain to him without hurting his feelings that I am just too tired to even think about sex sometimes? At the end of the day when I find myself with quiet time of my own, the last thing I think about is having sex. Someone told him that the reason I don't crave him as much as he claims to crave me is all in my mind. Some of my reluctance is due to the emotions I feel for him. I want to be a more thoroughly sexual person but I sometimes feel violated afterwards. Do I need professional counseling? I was told that people who believe they need help usually don't.

A: You certainly have a great many "they says" aimed at you, don't you? Either ignore them or verify them yourself. If you feel you can use some help from a therapist, then you are the judge of that. You are also the judge of whether you need time alone more than time together or if you are too tired or angry at your mate for sex. Many new mothers have their touch needs met through handling their infant; that (and very little sleep) may make them less interested in sex. If there are some unexpressed feelings toward your mate, particularly ones of anger, that can really dampen desire. Don't be afraid of hurting your man's feelings by telling him how you feel. You're already doing so by refusing sex, so at least allow him some understanding of why you are. Very importantly, if you don't feel free to say "no" when you don't want sex (i.e. "doing your duties," "feeling violated"), then it's almost impossible to say "yes" with a full heart.

Q: I read in a recent column of a guy who was inquiring whether a liquid or pill supplement would help make his penis larger. You told him that it wouldn't. I was wondering about those Web sites that claim to have exercises for making a penis larger. Is there any truth that "exercising" a penis will help it grow?

A: My definitive, well-researched opinion is that it might help a dedicated few. Jelqing, a series of natural stretching and massaging exercises supposedly passed on from certain Arab fathers to sons, seems to work for those men who stick with the lengthy, time-consuming program. An overview of this can be found at There are also videos demonstrating certain suggested techniques. Some pump users also insist that by very careful and long-term pumping, they have effected permanent changes in length and girth. I can't verify any successes firsthand and have read nothing of studies done in the professional literature. I have heard far more horror tales than success stories, but I have also heard some reports of satisfied "growers."

Q: I'd like to know how cocaine and other drugs such as alcohol stimulate attraction — and also whether or not you can trust the feelings they seem to suggest.

A: You’ve never heard that expression "The girls all get prettier at closing time"? There’s lots of folk wisdom about what alcohol and drugs do to inhibitions (they loosen them) and judgement (they weaken and distort them). A person who might in more abstinent moments be attractive but not right to pursue (or who’s not attractive at all) remarkably becomes just right with one more snort, puff or gulp. Can you trust the feelings that altered reality engenders? Of course not. Most of us can't even trust the feelings hormones engender when we're stone-cold sober. Isadora Alman, author of Doing It: Real People Having Really Good Sex, is a board-certified sexologist and a California-licensed marriage-and-family therapist. Contact her at [email protected] Her Sexuality Forum is at

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