Ask Debby Herbenick | Is bikini waxing safe?
Debby Herbenick answers your most penetrating sex questions. This week: Could I get any diseases from a bikini wax at a salon?
Q I’m 35. The woman I had hoped to marry left a year ago. It was a respectful separation, but I continue to think about her every day. There’s no chance of her changing her mind. Here’s my quandary: Is it appropriate to date, given these residual feelings? The few times I’ve tried, my heart just hasn’t been in it. On the other hand, I’m wondering if these feelings are going to keep hanging around until I meet someone who makes me forget the one who got away.
A Personally, I think it’s fine to go out on dates even when your heart is mending. But I don’t think it’s cool to go on lots of dates and lead someone to believe you’re really into them if you’re not. There’s a difference. Getting out and meeting people, talking over drinks or going to the movies is one thing. It gets you both out of the house. And if neither of you feels a spark, you don’t go on another date. Plus, you might surprise yourself: You might go on a date with someone you actually like. You might feel a spark one day or at least go an entire hour or two having so much fun that you don’t even think about your ex. And that might awaken some degree of optimism in you, helping you to move on. You also might find it helpful to read How to Survive the Loss of a Love (Prelude, $7.95), a highly popular book to help people move on post-breakup or divorce.
Q I am a fortysomething woman who has been waxing my bikini area for as long as I can remember. Just a neat triangle, mind you, nothing fancy. I usually do it myself with over-the-counter cold-wax strips, but once in a while I go to a salon. Does bikini waxing put me at greater risk for yeast infections, UTIs or bacterial vaginosis (BV)?
A Although extremely rare, it is possible for salon-based waxing to pass infections to patients. As such, try to choose a salon that takes hygiene seriously and feel free to ask if they’ve had any problems with infections in the past and what steps they take to make waxing as safe as can be. I’ve heard of very rare instances in which herpes and other infections have been passed, but I cannot stress enough how unusual these situations are. I haven’t personally come across any cases of bikini waxes triggering problems with yeast infections, UTIs or BV. So, happy waxing!
Q My wife is seven months pregnant. We have been together for seven years and have pretty much always had really good sex. Lots of books say that it may be more difficult for her to climax during her pregnancy. We have had difficulty getting her to that peak. Nothing works: toys, oral, manual, intercourse, different positions. Is her difficulty climaxing a physical thing? And if so, what? Or is it mental? Any recommendations?
A Stop worrying about her climax—both of you. I would give that same advice whether or not she was pregnant, as stress and pressure are the enemies of orgasm while a relaxed pleasure-focused perspective on sex helps orgasms along. The worst thing that can happen is that you and she have highly pleasurable sex but she doesn’t have an orgasm for the remaining two months that she’s pregnant. In the grand scheme of things, that’s not such a terrible fate. Some women experience orgasm throughout pregnancy without issue. Others find it more difficult for a number of reasons, including that formerly orgasmic sex positions may be uncomfortable, or various sensations (including the baby kicking or sitting on one’s bladder) can be distracting during sex. Chances are that when you resume sex post-baby, things will feel a lot different over time (it can take six months or more for sex to return to “normal”). For post-baby sex, check out Love in the Time of Colic (Harper, $15.95).
Q My wife and I have been married for ten years. She has always wanted sex every day, while I’m good with every few weeks. She masturbates a lot when we don’t have sex, and I don’t have a problem with it. We’ve talked about it, and if I’m around and not into it, I’ll hold her. I thought everything was fine. A few months ago after we had sex in the morning, I walked in on her masturbating twice the same day. She’d come three times with me that morning, so she shouldn’t have been sexually frustrated. When I asked her about it, she started crying and said she has been masturbating five times a day for a year. She comes at least 30 times a day and has even been masturbating at work. This does not sound normal to me. She is miserable and it is taking over our lives. I begged her to go to her gynecologist to get her hormones tested. She finally did, but lied to the doctor and said she needed tests due to low sex drive. The tests came back normal. I don’t think this is psychological, because I have been looking at her clit more closely and it is swollen all the time and almost purple. I know the swelling is supposed to go away after a woman comes, so I am worried there is something wrong with her physically. She is really embarrassed and refuses to go back to the gynecologist. Who would treat something like this?
A Over the past decade, more attention has been focused on what’s been called Persistent Sexual Arousal Disorder or Persistent Genital Arousal Disorder—essentially, the experience of feeling aroused practically nonstop. Although it affects a minority of women, it can be very bothersome to women who find that no matter how often they masturbate or have sex with a partner, they cannot seem to relieve themselves of a distracting sense of arousal. If your wife enjoys her frequent arousal, and likes masturbating this often, that’s one thing. Are you certain that it bothers her? Could it be that she’s just not comfortable telling you that, just as she didn’t want to tell her health-care provider that she’s a woman who likes sex and has lots of desire? I ask only because it’s striking to me that she felt more comfortable presenting to her doctor as a woman with low desire—as if that’s how women are “supposed” to be. On the other hand, some women hate feeling aroused constantly; it feels uncomfortable and stressful. If your wife feels this is a problem, encourage her to see someone versed in women’s sexuality issues. She can find someone through the International Society for the Study of Women’s Sexual Health—among these doctors are Dr. Stacy Lindau at the University of Chicago (5841 S Maryland Ave; 773-834-8986) and Dr. Traci Beck (836 W Wellington Ave, suite 4411; 773-296-7045).
Debby Herbenick, Ph.D., M.P.H., is a research scientist at Indiana University, sexual health educator at the Kinsey Institute and author of Because It Feels Good: A Woman’s Guide to Sexual Pleasure and Satisfaction. Send letters to Debby Herbenick, Ph.D., c/o Time Out Chicago, 247 South State Street, 17th floor, Chicago, IL 60604, or send e-mail to email@example.com.